Greg DeVore

By: Greg DeVore on May 22nd, 2022

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How a Knowledge Base Helps Your Business (12 Problems It Solves)

Confusing documents, ineffective training, and a to-write list that is difficult to complete — these are all challenges that keep someone in charge of knowledge management up at night.

It’s confounding and frustrating trying to figure out the best way to create, organize, and share your company’s resources. Luckily, there are software solution options available.

As a ScreenSteps co-founder, these problems listed in this article are what inspired us to create our knowledge base software. Companies face a lot of challenges when it comes to managing their company knowledge.

Here are 12 pain points your business may be experiencing that a knowledge base can help solve.

1. Your team is constantly confused

During training, your employees passed your quizzes and said they understood the how to do their jobs. Now that they are on their own, they are constantly confused.

They remember that they learned how to perform different procedures, but they can’t remember how or they confuse one procedure wth another. Where do they find the button to click? What is the next step in a procedure?

How a knowledge base can help

With a knowledge base, you have a single source of truth. It’s a one-stop shop for all of your company’s knowledge. Your employees know where to turn when they have questions to find answers.

You can write knowledge base articles to help employees when they are stuck or confused.

2. Your team is constantly searching through Slack, Teams, or email threads for answers to questions

When your employees have questions, where can they find answers? If your team has to scroll endlessly through chat messaging on Slack or Microsoft Teams, it takes a lot of time. And there is no guarantee that they’ll every find the answer they need.

They might remember chatting with someone a few weeks ago about something or remember receiving an email, but the search on those applications isn’t pulling up that conversation. As a result, your employees are left frustrated and confused.

How a knowledge base can help

A knowledge base can speed up and simplify the search process.

Depending on the knowledge base software you use, they have varying levels of search capabilities. Most knowledge base software companies put an emphasis on organizing your knowledge base so articles are easy to find.

Additionally, knowledge base software companies often have contexual help, bookmarks, and other tools to make it easier and faster for employees to find the guide they need.

Call Center Pitfalls eBook

3. Your organization is relying on tribal knowledge

Tribal knowledge is the information passed from employee to employee. It isn’t the standardized way to perform a procedure, nor has it been approved by company leadership. It’s just how one employee does a task and they’ve shared their tips with others.

If your employees are relying on tribal knowledge, its because they don’t have enough instructions or training from the company. Employees don’t have access to the information they need to do their jobs.

The added danger is if one of your subject matter experts leaves the company. If an employee leaves and they are the only one that knows information or how to perform a  procedure, that knowledge is lost when the employee leaves.

This results in confusion and leaves the remaining employees scrambling as they try to figure out the answer. Often it results in employees “reinventing the wheel” for something that someone else already figured out.

How a knowledge base can help

A knowledge base helps you centralize your company knowledge. In order to do that, you need to standardize your procedures and document the optimal way for executing those procedures. With a centralized and searchable database, your employees no longer have to learn from word of mouth.

4. Everyone does the same thing but in a different way

When there are no standardized procedures in your company, your employees are left on their own to figure things out and remember their training.

The casualty is the customer’s experience. Each time a customer calls your company, do they have a different experience depending on which agent handles the call?

This causes confusion for repeat callers. Without standardized procedures, you probably frequently hear, “The last time I called they did this.” It’s frustrating for customers and employees when a business can’t seem to keep their story straight.

Customers expect a certain experience when interacting with your company. If everyone has their own way of doing tasks, those customer expectations are missed.

How a knowledge base can help

A knowledge base helps you formalize your policies and procedures. A knowledge base gives your company a place to write them out in the ideal way they should be done. Your procedures are standardized.

5. Supervisors have to help employees out when they get stuck

How much time do your supervisors spend answering employee questions?

As a supervisor, you need to create reports, conduct interviews, and complete many other assignments. But, it is impossible to get those tasks done when every five minutes a member of your team is popping their head in your office or chat messaging you to ask a question.

If your supervisors are always needing to jump in to answer employee questions, they will never have time to take care of their more pressing responsibilities. That leads to long hours and burnt out supervisors.

How a knowledge base can help

If your supervisors are always having to answer questions and/or your employees can't work independently, then a knowledge base can help free up your supervisors’ time.

Fill your knowledge base with your clearly written policies and procedures. Then have employees learn to rely on your knowledge base. They can learn to be self-reliant learners. Instead of turning to their supervisors with every little question, they can first turn to the knowledge base. 

6. Updating knowledge articles or procedure guides is time-consuming

Are your help guides always up to date? Or do they contain inaccurate information? When was the last time your knowledge articles were reviewed and certified for accuracy?

As a supervisor — especially if your company is dealing with compliance — those three questions may cause you anxiety.

It’s easy for your help guides and reference materials to become outdated. Maybe you have a price change on a product. Maybe you added a step to a procedure, like many service companies added with the onset of Covid.

If you have outdated documented policies and procedures, then your employees will make mistakes by default. The guides they follow are setting them up for failure. They only have inaccurate information to reference for help.

How a knowledge base can help

With a knowledge base, you are more agile. It is faster and easier to create procedures.

Additionally, some knowledge base software allows you to set reminders to have your content authors review and certify that your articles are up to date and accurate.

7. It’s difficult to write and format documents

When you write knowledge base articles, it takes more than putting words in a document. You need to be able to format your help guides so that it is easy for end-users to read and follow the guides in their workflow.

If your content authors struggle with writing and formatting your articles in your current documentation system, a knowledge base would help simplify the documentation process. Not only is it frustrating for the content author when formatting elements don’t function well, but it is also time-consuming.

How a knowledge base can help

Knowledge base software has specific authoring tools for creating different types of policies, procedures, and other help guides. Plus, many provide basic templates to make writing and formatting articles faster and easier.

8. Your help guides all look different and are difficult for employees to follow

When your team writes a help guide, does it look different depending on who wrote it?

When there is no standardization to format or design, it is confusing for your employees to use the guides. One content author might use italics to indicate words an employee needs to say while another uses italics for background information they need to know but not say.

The inconsistency means your employees have to re-learn how to read and follow your guides each time they pull up an article.

The purpose of your policies and procedures is to help your employees when they are stuck. If your employees are getting stuck on the job while using your guides, you have a problem.

How a knowledge base can help

Depending on the knowledge base software you use, a knowledge base provides different tools for structuring clear step-by-step instructions.

Many knowledge base software services offer an interactive element — such as interactive workflow articles — that walk employees through each step of a process.

Plus, you can set a clear knowledge base style guide so that your articles can be consistent no matter who writes your documented procedures.

9. End-users are constantly asking: “How do I do this?”

When your employees and customers go to do a task, they are constantly asking “How do I do this?” Or they get stuck doing a task and need to ask, “ What is our policy on this?

These are often repeat questions that multiple employees ask over and over again.

While these questions are necessary, they eat away at supervisors time. And it is frustrating for employees to stop in a middle of a procedure to figure out what to do.

In short, your employees don’t know how to do their jobs after onboarding.

How a knowledge base can help

If your new hires get through training and then take weeks or months until they are proficient on the job, then a knowledge base can improve your training efforts.

Document all of your policies and procedures in your knowledge base. Then teach your employees to rely on your knowledge base during training. Use scenario-based training to teach them how to self-serve questions they may have on the job.

These real-life scenarios will help them practice what to do when they get stuck. And with a comprehensive knowledge base, your employees will have all the answers they need at their fingertips.

🔎 Related: Scenario-Based Training: Role-playing Examples for Call Center Training

10. Training programs won't scale

While you have a training program that is working for your company, your not sure if it will sustain the large new hire groups for your growing company.

Currently, your onboarding program requires a lot of one-on-one instruction with trainers. It includes PowerPoint presentations and requires a lot of memorization. You use lectures and quizzes to train employees.

With a larger new hire group, you won’t be able to spend personalized attentoin on each new employee. Your worried that your new employees won’t be able to learn as well when the training classes are larger.

How a knowledge base can help

A knowledge base allows you to develop a training program that is scalable. Because training is interactive — using scenario-based training to role-play different situations by using your knowledge base — you can have any size training group.

New hires are broken into groups and partners to practice these skills. The knowledge base is there as a secondary trainer.

11. It takes too long to train employees and requires a lot of memorization

How long does it take to train your employees? If it takes multiple months or even three or more weeks to train your employees, then your training is costing you a lot of extra money. During training, your employees are an investment you are hoping to get a return on.

Employees have to spend weeks memorizing your policies and procedures so that they can become experts. During this time, your company has to pay them for learning but they aren’t helping with projects or supporting customers at this point.

Memorizing dozens or hundreds of procedures is challenging and intimidating. Many employees — especially in call centers — quit before training is even over. You can’t afford to have a long training period when employees frequently don’t even complete the training.

How a knowledge base can help

When you use a knowledge base, you don’t need to require your employees to memorize extensive books of information. Training involves learning to use the knowledge base. Then the knowledge base contributes to continuous learning.

The employees learn to perform new procedures by following the how-to guides. They are able to perform procedures even if it is their first time seeing a specific guide.

12. You don’t know how anyone is using your help guides or what they are searching for

Maybe you already have your policies and procedures documented. You send your employees these PDF guides to use via email or you share them on a cloud server.

You hope that your employees are using the guides to do their jobs, but employees are still making a lot of mistakes. You don’t know why because you’ve created the guides.

It could be because your employees aren’t using your guides. It could be because your employees can’t find the correct guide when they need it. It could be because your guides are incomplete or outdated or missing a step. This leaves you and your employees confused.

You don’t know because you have no insights into how your employees are using your guides. You have no idea if anyone is using your knowledge articles. You have no idea what content your customers or employees are searching for.

How a knowledge base can help

Most knowledge base software companies offer some analytics. These user reporters can provide you insight into how your employees are using your knowledge base. That could include:

  • Who uses which articles
  • Total number of article views
  • What keywords employees are using to search
  • And more

Simplify knowledge management with a knowledge base

Does your company have any of these problems? Maybe a knowledge base software is the right solution for your business.

A knowledge base is a knowledge management solution that helps you create, organize, and share your company’s resources.

With a ScreenSteps knowledge base, it is fast and easy to document your company’s policies and procedures. Our powerful content creation tools — like our unique integrated screen capture tool — help your create content in a fraction of the time it would normally take.

Then employees can access the guides in as few as two clicks with the robust search engine and contextual help.

Think a knowledge base could help solve some of your business’ knowledge management problems? Compare some of the best knowledge base software options on the market with this list of top performers.

See Best Knowledge Base Companies

About Greg DeVore

CEO of ScreenSteps