What’s in a word? When it comes to connecting with customers and keeping them informed, it could mean the difference between clarity vs. confusion. As Mark Twain said, “the difference between the almost right word and the right word is really a large matter; ’tis the difference between the lightning bug and the lightning” — or in this case, the difference between a knowledge base and a learning hub.
Here’s why: customers who head into a knowledge base aren’t, as the term suggests, seeking to obtain information. Yes, that’s part of the equation, But their end game is to answer questions and solve problems. In other words: customers don’t merely want knowledge from knowledge bases. They want – and expect – learning.
Now, this doesn’t mean that companies should race to re-brand their knowledge base and start calling it a learning hub. Even though this would be more precise (and Twain fans would certainly approve), customers can get confused and irritated when familiar terms change. And as we all know, few things bring the buyer’s journey to a screeching halt than confusing and irritating customers.
Rather, the advice here is for companies to appreciate that their knowledge base can’t just passively offer knowledge. It must actively enable learning — because that’s how customers get the answers and solutions they need. To that end, here are five best practices to transform a static knowledge base into a dynamic learning hub:
- Let Customers Choose their Own Path
Many customers want to choose their own path, and build a private and customized knowledge base that wraps around their specific learning needs and goals. As such, a knowledge base should allow customers to easily and quickly create personalized publications, which they can view online or convert into a PDF and access, store or share offline as desired.
- Support Deep, Flexible & Intelligent Content Searching
Many customers need help articulating their inquiry. A knowledge base should anticipate this learning gap and lean forward by giving customers the ability to perform full-text, faceted or fuzzy search (supported by auto-fallback rules to handle duplicate results) that scan across all publications.
- Get Customers on the Content Team
A knowledge base is the ideal platform for customers to share, comment and rate content. This feedback can then be leveraged to improve content quality, accuracy, consistency and value – all of which combine to help customers achieve their learning goals faster and easier. At the same time, customers who feel like they’re part of the content team are engaged and inspired, which translates into long-term loyalty.
- Set Entitlements to Streamline the Experience
Instead of making all content available – which can be overwhelming and confusing – a knowledge base should use pre-set entitlements to direct specific content to certain groups. In addition to giving customers a simpler and streamlined experience that drives clarity and learning, this approach let companies enhance security through a flexible role-based authorization and authentication model.
- Extend the Brand to Sustain the Omnichannel
In the retail world (offline and online), the omnichannel approach aims to provide customers with a smooth and seamless end-to-end shopping experience. In the same light, a knowledge base should be an extension of a company and feature signature brand elements (e.g. colors, images, logos, layouts). This helps customers feel safe and confident that, as they enter the knowledge base, they’re still within the company’s ecosystem vs. shuffled off to some disparate third-party site. And if you ask any educator or instructional designer, and they’ll tell you that people who feel safe and confident learn much better and faster than those who don’t.
The Bottom Line
Just as a corporate website can’t be a virtual brochure, a knowledge base can’t be an online repository for FAQs, use cases, how-to videos, technical specifications, and so on. That may have been suitable (or at least, tolerable) in the distant past, but on today’s customer-centric landscape, the expectation is much higher – and so are the stakes. Companies that transform their static knowledge based into a dynamic learning hub put themselves in the winner’s circle, because they actively cultivate smarter customers 24/7/365.
Zoomin Docs has been designed from the ground-up to embrace and activate all five of the knowledge base best practices described. To learn more about moving your content from a static world of information to a dynamic world of learning, schedule your guided demo today.