Discover how to create an effective self-service demo knowledge base to enhance customer engagement and satisfaction. Explore the benefits, learn how to leverage self-service demos, and follow best practices for organization. Boost your product's usability and support customer success with this comprehensive guide.
I'm a firm believer in systems: not just tools, but systems.
I like looking at something we're failing at (or maybe not doing so well at), workshopping solutions, and then finding ways of making the solutions not be people dependent. I like building frameworks. I like making things easy. Accessible. Searchable.
The first time I worked on a knowledge base, the complexity of it Blew. My. Mind. Everyone in the company used it. It needed to work for all kinds of different contexts and user types. Within those, it needed to work out who needed what depth of information, and it needed to make this accessible across technical skill levels. Basically, the marketing guy and the technical lead needed completely different search results even when they searched for the same product feature.
A good knowledge base can be absolutely game changing: it enables employees to work from anywhere while still being aligned on shared goals, it brings about improved productivity and increased engagement, it prevents knowledge loss when key people leave, and of course, it creates much more consistency in customer experience as marketing, sales, support and CX teams don't end up talking at cross purposes with customers.
That's what happens when we use a knowledge base internally. However, there are some enormous advantages to creating a customer facing knowledge base.
Unlocking the Value: The Advantages of a Customer-Facing Knowledge Base
Having a searchable repository of informational resources can help users understand, navigate, and get the most out of our products, while minimizing low value interactions with our teams. Here are the key benefits SmartCue's clients have seen.
Empowered Users. This is especially true when clients sprinkle in links to these knowledge articles/videos/demos within the product itself. The user stumbles on something, and the link is right there - all they have to do is click through, and voila! Other clients have successfully trained their website chatbot to help users navigate to the right knowledge artifact.
It makes our products look easy to use. Think about when something feels complex to you. It's usually when you've spent a few minutes struggling with it (at least!) and haven't been able to get help (or thought to seek it out). Some of our tools are going to be complex because the underlying processes are complex. The next best thing we can do is make it really, really easy for users to find help.
User adoption improves. The easier something is to adopt, the greater the adoption. In addition to making our products look easy to use, a knowledge base lets us send out targeted emails with links to the relevant knowledge artifacts to users who aren't using our products, or aren't using them to their fullest capacity.
Customer Support effectiveness improves. For one, we get fewer inquiries. No one wants to spend time on the phone with someone, when they can watch a video instead. Second, we get to handover a significant portion of our FAQs to chatbots. Third, the queries that do come through, get our fullest attention.
Building an Effective Knowledge Base Using Self-Service Demos: Strategies and Best Practices
It sounds like a massive undertaking, but it doesn't need to be. You've already created most of this material - your sales collateral (video tutorials and self-service demos), technical materials (step-by-step guides, walkthroughs) and marketing materials (case studies, use case specific documents, etc) already exist. For the most part, this is about organization.
However, there are some interesting ways in which we can leverage these content types to do more than they normally do. One of the ways SmartCue is changing the game is by making self-service demos possible at scale. Many of our customers are using SmartCue to create demo libraries specific to user stories, industries, ICPs, business size, and every other way they slice their pies.
The biggest advantage of self-service demos is that they maximize user experience - users learn at their own pace and at their own convenience. Moreover, it's impossible to multi-task through a self-service demo when you're the one in the driver's seat - so attention isn't a problem, and the learning goes bone deep because the user is learning by doing. As Confucius said, "I hear and I forget. I see and I remember. I do and I understand."
Here's how some of our clients have used self-service demos to supercharge engagement across content types
When we already know what users are asking about, it becomes really easy to create content around it. Showing customers how to use this or that through self-service demos is what is known as First Contact Resolution in the customer service world. The idea being that you've not only answered their question, but resolved it. In this case, the FAQ section turns into a great place to teach your customers to fish.
Pro tip: If you're using a website chatbot or a customer service chatbot, train it to ask questions that help filter industries, ICPs, business size, etc, so it can connect the user to a custom self-service demo in your demo library.
Guides and How Tos
These content types are perfect for self-service demos - the user gets to play around with the self-service demo, and also download a PDF if they'd like a ready reckoner. This way, you make the most of the materials you've created. Once the user has interacted with the demo, they know how. If the process is very detailed, a PDF does a great job of capturing all the little details they need to keep abreast of. This approach is particularly useful for functionality that isn't used often.
Combining video with self-service demos is a great way to deliver impactful and complete training - the video section takes care of context and background, while the self-service demo allows the user hands-on experience. We've seen clients combine instructor led videos with self-service demos to deliver much stronger training outcomes.
Streamlining Information: Effective Organization of Your Knowledge Base Content
Like I said before, the key task here is organization. The purpose of this knowledge base is to create ease… it has to be as easy to use and navigate as it can be. Here are some best practices I swear by:
Implement a search function - no matter how well categorized it is, it's going to frustrate someone. Also, when people are in a rush, search works best.
Use tags - it's a great way to label and connect content. We've all had that experience when we found what we were looking for in the 'Related content' section of an article we were slogging through.
Allow users to drill down - if I'm a small SaaS business looking for demo automation, let me sort by industry, size and use case. I really don't want to see what you're doing for Walmart.
Integrate a chatbot (if you can) - if you're at that stage where you have enough traffic, then do it. It pays for itself several times over.
Elicit feedback - get your communities involved. Ask for feedback from client training teams. Ask power users. Ask users who are struggling. Monitor user analytics.
Regular review and update - if it isn't someone's responsibility, it'll be no one's job. Make it a part of your product roll out process so that each change is reflected in the knowledge base artifacts.
Onboarding users is hard work. Keeping users engaged is even harder. But not impossible. As a startup founder, I know firsthand that we can't hold off on launching our products in our quest for perfection. We will never be perfect. Not for every single user anyway. So we do our best, and ensure that users have the support structure they need to make the most of our products.
To that end, an easy to navigate, up-to-date knowledge base filled with self-service demos goes a long, long way.