Businesses that regularly receive calls from customers realize how difficult it can be to provide 24/7 support. Keeping friendly, skilled representatives on hand around-the-clock can quickly drain a business's payroll. Yet, cutting corners by hiring unhelpful employees will send customers directly to competitors.

Knowledge bases are a great way to give customers the help they need without having to pick up the phone or wait for regular business hours. When done correctly, you'll create a positive user experience and save your help desk team a phone call. Here are five ways you can create an effective knowledge base.

1. Make it easy to find.

User-friendliness should be at the top of your priority list as you develop your knowledge base. If customers get frustrated, the resource will be useless. Offer access to your knowledge base through a "Help" button available on every page of your site.

When customers click on that button, make sure the knowledge base is featured as an option. Some businesses merely set up a search box for customers to enter their issue, leading them to relevant knowledge base articles. If they can't find the appropriate answer, they can then see the option to contact your help desk directly.

Another option is to offer a subscription to your knowledge base, which provides opt-in options like an email alert. You can also consider adding a blog post macros to your knowledge base home page that then lists the latest information posted and offers visitors the opportunity to subscribe to new alerts through RSS.

Within your knowledge base, also make sure that visitors can find exactly what they are looking for by adding a labels list macro that then allows them to search by a label or topic. This makes it easy to quickly locate an area of interest, keeping visitors within your knowledge base for a longer period of time.

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2. Fully stock it.

Your knowledge base is only good if it contains the information that customers need. In the early stages, focus on populating the database with content, refining it later. Ask your help desk technicians to enter each resolved ticket into the database, including both the issue and the solution.

Appropriate employees can review the content and correct any grammatical errors or inconsistencies. You can also copy from past help desk tickets, using the information employees have entered in the resolution field. Also consider creating templates that can be used to more efficiently and consistently enter the information in a way that follows a standard and approved format for your company.

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3. Match common requests.

If you've been taking calls for a while, you already have an extensive databank of common issues with your products or services. In addition to extracting this information and including it in your knowledge base, you can also ask your help desk representatives which issues they face most often.

Create a list of top-mentioned issues and work with your team to brainstorm other items that might need to be included. This information can truly enhance your knowledge base because you are focusing on some of the most relevant information related to your company's products or services.

4. Use visuals.

When a customer clicks over to read an article in your knowledge base, long blocks of text can be daunting. Visuals help break up that text, making your information more pleasing to the eye. You can add videos to your knowledge base although it's best to create a transcript or explanatory content to go with it. Without that information, your video won't be as searchable as other articles within your knowledge base.

You don't have to spend a fortune on professional photography or videography. Simply use screen-capture software or shoot a smartphone video of a knowledgeable team member explaining a concept. You can also pull great pictures from your company's Instagram account if you have one or encourage employees to take their own pictures or create other types of visuals that can be added that will enhance the written content.

5. Monitor searches.

Once your knowledge base is in use, consistently monitor activity to determine its effectiveness. If you notice customers are contacting your help desk on specific issues because they can't find the information they want, spend extra time beefing up that section.

Note common searches and make sure customers get the answers they want from the articles you've uploaded. You can use analytical tools that include monitoring video interaction with your knowledge base, determining what search terms failed so you can address these issues, and cataloging the top articles and categories most searched to know where more content is necessary.

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Keep your knowledge base active.

A knowledge base can help you provide a better experience to your customers who need help. It may take time to build it, but once you've stocked it with initial content, your own employees will be able to add to it as new issues emerge. Just remember to avoid neglecting your knowledge base once you have it in place since outdated information can cause customers to discredit the content. As long as your team keeps it active, your knowledge base can serve as a valuable resource for your business, creating loyal customers, and reducing the number of calls your own employees must take.