Knowledge base analytics: Why They Are Important (+ How To Use Them)
When companies have a knowledge base, sometimes they think that their knowledge management journey is done. They can wash their hands of it. The knowledge base exists, there are knowledge base articles in it, and that is all that matters.
Unfortunately, having that attitude towards your knowledge base probably means you have learning gaps, inaccurate guides, or other short sightings.
It’s like preparing a meal without the seasonings. Yes, you have food (and some of it might still taste okay). You can still get full on it. But, it could be even more filling and satisfying if you had salt, pepper, garlic, or other seasonings to spice things up.
As the Director of Transformational Services at ScreenSteps — a knowledge base software company that helps end-users become knowledgeable, consistent, and efficient — I’ve learned a few things about managing a knowledge base.
It’s GOOD to have a knowledge base.
It’s BETTER to keep that knowledge base optimized.
It’s BEST to use analytics and reports to improve your knowledge base.
Below, I explain why it is important to track knowledge base analytics. Then I’ll share some common knowledge base reports that will help you get the most out of your knowledge base.
6 reasons it is important to track analytics in your knowledge base
Your knowledge base is the centralized hub for your company’s policies and procedures. It is a one-stop shop for your company’s information and resources. But many companies simply document this information and then never look at it again.
Knowledge base analytics help you track how your end-users are using your knowledge base. The purpose of knowledge base analytics is to help you improve your knowledge base and your employees’ performance.
Knowledge base analytics help you:
1. Identify areas where users need help, optimize search, and identify gaps
How do your end-users find your knowledge base articles? All knowledge base software has a search function (although, not all knowledge bases have the ability to see which search terms end-users are typing).
What search terms are not pulling up the correct results?
These are searches when people need help and can’t find it. What search terms are people using and not getting any results or getting the wrong results? You might have the correct articles, but people are using different terms (or misspelled words) to find them.
2. View trends in support needs
Which guides were used most? Which guides were not used at all? Where could you provide more guidance?
Your knowledge base analytics show you usage trends. They help you know who is using your guides and how they are using your articles.
This provides you context as you decide which articles you need to add as well as any edits you need to make to specific knowledge base articles.
3. Correlate performance and usage
The purpose of your knowledge base is to help employees know what to do without making mistakes. A good practice is to have your employees use the articles every time they perform a procedure. Your knowledge base analytics help track the usage.
When you have usage reports, you can correlate who is using the knowledge base and compare it to individual employees’ performance.
Are top performers using the guides a lot? Are poor performers NOT using the guides? Do people need additional training or do they just need to use the guides?
4. Identify who is NOT using help guides
Are struggling employees using your help guides? If you aren’t using your knowledge base reports, you won’t know the answer to this.
If you have a struggling employee or someone who is making mistakes, it helps to see if they are pulling up the guides and following them while performing tasks. If they aren’t and they are making mistakes, you know why. You can train them to follow guides.
If they are following your guides and making mistakes, then it lets you know you need to review your article for accuracy and make edits to clarify the article.
5. Create a more robust knowledge base
Knowing who is using your knowledge base, how they are using it, and what they are searching for helps you optimize your knowledge base.
If people are searching for help and not finding it, you have an opportunity to create guides that answer their questions. You can fill in the learning gaps for missing guides.
6. Plan announcements
Analytics can show when your end-users are logging into your knowledge base.
As you update your knowledge base articles or add new help guides, you can send a notification with some knowledge base software services.
Knowing when people are logging on can help you know a good time to send the announcements about changes to the knowledge base
4 types of knowledge base reports and how to use them
It’s one thing to have knowledge base analytics and reports. But, if you aren’t using the tool, it isn’t benefiting your company.
Here are four different types of knowledge base reports and tips on how to use these reports to improve your knowledge base as well as your employees’ performance.
Note: The exact details for what you can see with your knowledge base analytics and user reports vary according to the knowledge base software you use.
1. User reports
What it does
Your user analytics show you how individual employees are using your knowledge base articles. You can see which knowledge base articles your end-users are looking at and completing.
User reports require your end-users to have a login.
How you use it
User reports help you examine your employees’ knowledge base habits. You can use these insights to better train your employees and fill in learning gaps.
If you notice one employee is making a lot of mistakes, you can look at their knowledge base usage. Are they using the knowledge base article/procedure to complete the task they keep making mistakes on? If not, have them use the article every time they do the procedure.
If they are, then you know you need to make updates to your article to clarify things or do more background information training with the employee.
2. Article reports
What it does
Article reports have a variety of capabilities. The exact information you can get on how end-users are viewing and using your articles varies depending on your knowledge base.
Some common insights from article reports are they:
- Show you which articles are being viewed
- Show you when those articles were viewed
- Show you overall how many articles are being viewed
- Show you who is viewing them and when they viewed them
How you use it
Article reports help you analyze and track viewing trends. Your employees should be using your knowledge base articles every day, even if they know procedures. It helps them avoid making mistakes.
Are fewer people viewing articles? If they aren’t, go out and ask why. Get feedback from your end-users. There are many reasons your end-users aren’t referencing your knowledge base articles:
- It could be that you don’t have the information they need
- It could be that your content is outdated and unreliable
- It could be that people don’t know how to use it
- It could be that people can’t find what they need (needs search optimization)
- It could be that people don’t like using the content (instructions are not clear)
Talking to your end-users will help you know why they aren’t using it and pinpoint the problem. Then you can either make clarifying changes to an article, provide additional training, etc.
3. Search reports
What it does
The search reports allow you to know what terms end-users are typing in to search for articles.
Depending on your knowledge base software, your search reports could show you what results popped up for them when they searched specific keywords.
Alternatively, the generated report could also show you empty results. Empty results show you when a term is typed in the search and it didn’t yield results.
How you use it
For reports that show empty results, those help you know one of two things. Either there are no results because (1) it is a non-existent article, or (2) the article exists but end-users can’t find it.
In the first scenario, you just need to write a new knowledge base article for the procedure to fill that learning gap. In the second scenario, you need to optimize the article title and add keywords to the article so your end-users can find it.
If your knowledge base provides insights on how specific employees use search, then you can better understand how to help your employees become more proficient.
Look at an employee report. Based on their search terms do they:
- Need more education?
- Or need some other type of support?
- Or do they have a lot of typos?
4. Knowledge base health report (or certification)
What it does
A knowledge base health report is information that shows when your knowledge base articles were last updated. It helps you to certify that your knowledge base articles are up to date with the most accurate information.
How you use it
If your knowledge base software has a certification tool, you can set reminders to review articles on specific dates. This could be a monthly, quarterly, or annual review.
Once you have those dates set, your knowledge base health reports will let you know if an article is past due for certification.
Find knowledge base software that provides powerful insights into employee usage
Knowledge base analytics and reports are underused tools when it comes to getting the most out of your knowledge base software. Once you know how to read the analytics and how that translates into actions, you can create the optimal knowledge base for your business.
Need a knowledge base that has simple yet powerful analytic tools?
With a ScreenSteps knowledge base, you have insights into how your employees are using your knowledge base. These usage reports give you helpful information that allows you to optimize your knowledge base. Plus, it is easy to make changes with simple content creation tools.
If you are looking for a knowledge base that is an impactful tool in helping your company manage its knowledge, check out this list of some of the top knowledge base software companies.