Without knowing anything about your organization, I’ll venture to say that most of the issues probably stem from one thing. Think about it:
- The customer who comes to your site looking for the solution to a problem with your product,
- The team member who makes you all look bad by sending an old version of a report to your investors,
- The overtime you spend on doing something you’re sure your colleague did two months ago but can’t find,
- The money you have to spend on training recruits to replace a key employee…
It all comes down to one thing: information.
Now, how do we store that information for future use, keep it updated, and share it with those who need it? That’s where knowledge management comes into the picture. Without it, you’ll lose money re-creating the same knowledge again and again.
So, let’s look at one of the easiest ways to improve your organization’s knowledge management capabilities: knowledge base software.
What Is a Knowledge Base?
A knowledge base is a centralized hub where your business can store, maintain, and share information. That information can be any form of content, such as articles, images, videos, or other media. So, how does it help with your knowledge management?
- Storing knowledge — in one easy-to-access location, always available.
- Maintaining knowledge — easy to edit and update documents regularly.
- Sharing knowledge — share with the right people or groups, or choose between private and public.
Knowledge bases can be divided into two slightly different versions: internal and external. Internal knowledge bases are the place to store your company’s knowledge safely. You can add anything from policies and reports to documents that require extensive collaboration and communication. The external knowledge bases are often public self-service portals where customers can solve their own issues 24/7 with articles, tutorials, and FAQs.
As you probably can tell, many businesses could benefit from having both internal and external knowledge bases. But, regardless of how you’ll use it, there are a few features that are good to consider when choosing a knowledge base solution:
Useful Knowledge Base Features to Consider
- User-friendliness. How user-friendly is the interface and content hierarchy? Does a user need to be tech-savvy to navigate it, or is it intuitive to grasp?
- Communication. What kind of communication do you need? For example, do you need commenting features or integration with apps such as Slack?
- Collaboration. How much document editing will you need to do? Features that support versioning, several collaborators, and real-time changes are essential if you want to keep the content updated.
- Security. What kind of security features do you need? Many knowledge bases support two-factor login, but additional security features may include location-based login or advanced access management.
- Access management. What user groups will you have — is it enough to separate internal and public, or do you need to share content with select individuals or groups?
- Analytics. Advanced analytics will show you how users consume content, the keywords they use, and what articles successfully solve support needs before they contact your customer service team.
- Interactive features. If you’re looking to get direct feedback from customers or colleagues, you’ll want features that enable interactivity, such as commenting and the ability to like or rate comments.
- Search capabilities. While having a good site structure is crucial, you’ll also want strong search-capabilities to make it easy to find the right content.
- Integrations. With what other apps do you need integration?
The Benefits of Using Knowledge Base Software for Your Business
- Always available. A whopping 71% of customers want to get help immediately or at least within five minutes — a hard feat for any support team. With your knowledge base available 24/7, customers always get instant help.
- Avoid content silos. A 2016 survey showed that 55% of respondents stored important information either on a local hard drive or USB memory stick. That’s not ideal when your colleague is home sick and has the latest version of that important draft, right? With a knowledge base, your entire team will have access to the correct files, no matter where in the world they are located.
- Improve productivity. A Nintex study showed that 49% of respondents had issues locating the proper document. Knowledge bases come with search tools that make your content easy to find.
- Improve your customer support experience. 51% of customers prefer to use a FAQ or similar to solve their own issues, freeing up time for your support team to focus on the trickier cases.
- Solve issues faster. Your support team can solve problems more quickly by sending customers the whole article or relevant snippets of information.
- Increase organic traffic. Where do customers go when they want a problem solved? Yes — Google. With a publicly available knowledge base, you get additional SEO-benefits.
- Track content consumption. The analytics function shows you how the information is used, whether you want to check who in the team has read the latest sales report, or see what help articles your customers find the most useful.
- Reduce knowledge loss. How high is the knowledge-related cost of losing a key employee? 53% of C-suite respondents in Critical Knowledge Transfer estimated it to $50,000-$299,000 per employee. 11% even considered the sum higher than $1M. When you document and store knowledge, you reduce this sum considerably.
10 Best Knowledge Base Software Solutions
There are many knowledge base solutions on the market. Here, we’ll discuss the pros and cons of the top selection.
HelpJuice is used by teams on companies such as Amazon, Hertz, and Virgin. However, it is also flexible and intuitive enough to fit small businesses. A selection of templates makes it easy to set up your knowledge base quickly.
Helpjuice’s access management lets you create both internal and external knowledge bases without additional effort. Choose to give access to specific individuals or groups, or let the content become public so that customers can use it.
- Accessible authoring features for letting multiple authors edit and see changes in real-time.
- Unlimited customization — the support team will even do customizations for you.
- Powerful analytics tool for tracking popular articles and search phrases.
- Instant, Google-like search helps users find content quickly.
- Limited direct integrations, although full integration with Zapier.
- For small organizations (two users) with limited needs, there are more options with less functionality that are more affordable.
ProProfs offers not just a knowledge base tool but different apps such as quiz makers, chat programs, and a helpdesk. Sony, Dell, and Cisco are among the customers using ProProfs for the knowledge base.
The basic features are simple to manage without any coding knowledge. A wealth of templates and fonts and the ability to add a custom domain name make it easy to create a seamless experience for users.
- Integration with other ProProfs products makes the knowledge base attractive to those who want to stay with one provider.
- A free plan with up to 20 pages makes it appealing to companies with minimal usage needs.
- The export feature allows users to save a page or the entire site as a pdf.
- The pricing is per page and offers a limited number of users, which makes this an expensive option for organizations with extensive knowledge bases or many users.
Document360’s customers include Microsoft, Stackify, and Customer.io. Customers appreciate the ability to create rich content and professional-looking documents. The interface features drag-and-drop functionality.
Document360’s versioning features do not just make it possible to revert to an older version, but also to compare two document versions to see the differences.
- Markdown support, adding code snippets, and embedding video or images make it easy to create rich documents.
- Lists, tables, and callouts help highlight important information and guide the content consumer.
- Category features such as rearranging articles within a category, adding sub-categories, and managing category level access contribute to a smoother content management experience.
- Document360 has a limited number of integrations and extensions.
- It can become costly if you want a separate product for each product or team, as every price point offers a limited number of projects.
Confluence is part of Atlassian’s product suite, which includes tools such as Jira and Trello. Customers include LinkedIn, GoPro, and The New York Times. While Confluence functions as a knowledge base, it also offers project management features such as road maps and timelines.
While Confluence is flexible enough to be used by companies of all sizes, its self-hosted alternative can be a better alternative for larger organizations.
- A large selection of team-specific templates allows you to quickly set up a new marketing campaign or product requirement documentation.
- Personalized feeds, blog features, and permission settings make it useful as a social intranet.
- Free for up to ten users with premium plans starting at $5 per user per month, Confluence is affordable for smaller organizations.
- Confluence is more focused on functioning as an internal knowledge base — if you’re looking for a customer-facing service portal, there are better options.
- The knowledge base lacks some advanced features and customizations that other options have
HubSpot offers an impressive set of tools, ranging from sales to content marketing. Organizations such as Newcastle University, Ocean Spray, and Frontify use its customer service tool Service Hub.
Apart from a knowledge base, Service Hub also includes features such as live chat and support tickets. For organizations that already use HubSpot, Service Hub can be a great way to start offering customers a self-service portal. However, there are far more suitable options for companies that also need a way to store, edit, and share documents internally.
- Integrates seamlessly with HubSpot’s other tools and has over 500 custom integrations with other apps.
- Feedback collection tools make it easy to improve the knowledge base articles.
- Additional customer service features, such as live chat, help provide a great user experience.
- The knowledge base features are for customer support only, rather than allowing a more flexible option with both internal and external knowledge bases.
- As it isn’t a dedicated knowledge base solution, it isn’t as feature-rich as many other options. The Professional Plan, which includes a knowledge base, starts at $320 per month. However, if you’re looking for a robust knowledge base, there are more affordable options.
Rovio, Comcast, and Yokohama are a few customers who favor M-Files for their document management. Depending on your needs, you can choose between cloud, on-premises, or a hybrid approach for hosting your documents.
M-Files focuses on the internal document management process, so if you’re looking for a customer support portal, other options are more suitable.
- An impressive list of integrations includes the Microsoft Suite, Salesforce, and DocuSign.
- Several different templates for quick document setup.
- Useful search that finds documents through metadata.
- Limited collaborative features compared to other knowledge base options.
- The interface could be more intuitive for users to make it easier to navigate and find documents.
Just like M-Files, eFileCabinet is stronger as a document management system for internal use than as a customer service tool.
The mobile-friendliness, combined with DocuSign integration, makes this tool useful for those who need to manage documents and document access on-the-go. However, it is better for storing and sharing documents than it is at collaboration and editing.
- Security-features include two-factor authentication as well as IP or location-based authentication.
- Convenient features for scanning documents to go paperless.
- Portfolios make it easy to find your most-used documents.
- With billing starting at $55 per user per month, this option quickly adds up to become one of the most expensive in this list — there are more affordable options.
- Lack of collaborative and interactive features.
With customers such as Forbes, Airbus, and Nascar, LiveAgent focuses on offering a full range of customer support tools. Apart from a knowledge base, you also get access to solutions for live chat, help desk, and ticketing systems.
While LiveAgent offers a knowledge base adapted to customer service needs, it lacks some advanced features. If you want to use a knowledge base for internal documents as well, this is not your best choice.
- WYSIWYG-editor for easy article editing.
- Integrates well with other LiveAgent tools, giving customers the ability to submit tickets straight from an article if they didn’t get the help they needed.
- The process for customizing the theme with colors, fonts, and logotypes is user-friendly and intuitive.
- Lacks some advanced features and customization, and only has three pre-defined themes.
- If you want more than one knowledge base, it costs $19 extra per month. As you’re already paying up to $39 per account user per month, this quickly adds up.
Bitrix24’s arsenal boasts over 35 tools, including tools for website creation, project management, and customer support.
Bitrix24’s knowledge base comes with many social sharing options, including company-wide announcements, searchable public and private chats, and customizable employee profiles. This makes it excellent to use as a social intranet.
- Useful to have an extensive line of integrated tools depending on your business’s needs.
- Use ready-made knowledge base templates to get up-and-running quickly, including mind map templates.
- For increased customization, you can choose to host the open-source code on your own server.
- The number of tools and features can make it difficult to get an overview and find the right functionalities.
- The user experience could be updated to become more intuitive, for example, when it comes to navigation.
HelpSite is a basic, affordable option that mainly focuses on customer-facing knowledge bases. However, the more expensive plans make it possible to set up internal knowledge bases as well.
HelpSite’s features include custom roles and permissions, fast search options, and an easy-to-use admin interface. You can choose if you want separate internal and external knowledge bases, or if you prefer a mix where the level of content depends on your access.
- The clean, mobile-friendly interface makes it easy to work in documents and set up FAQs and wiki-like pages.
- Affordable plans make it practical for smaller organizations.
- A custom domain option is included even on the free plan.
- HelpSite lacks many of the advanced features and customization options that other tools offer.
- Customization requires some technical knowledge as it is done with HTML or CSS.
There are many options to choose from when you choose a knowledge base solution. While the features vary tremendously, an excellent place to start is by considering how you’ll share the knowledge base. Will it function as a help desk, manage internal files — or both?
As it can take a little while to fill your knowledge base with content and set it up, it is useful to choose something that can grow with you. This makes the options that offer both internal and external knowledge bases more attractive.
Some options, like HubSpot and Bitrix24, are like Swiss Army-knives: they have multiple tools with different usages, but that doesn’t necessarily make the best solution. If you want a robust knowledge base, you’re better off with a solution focused on knowledge bases, with good integration with other tools such as Salesforce, Slack, or Zapier.