How to launch an effective customer knowledge base in the next 30 days
by Tim Jordan

How to launch an effective customer knowledge base in the next 30 days (even on a limited budget)

Time is often at a premium when you work in customer support.

For many support teams, resources are often stretched thin. The very idea of launching a robust customer knowledge base might feel overwhelming — even if you know it has the potential to transform your support operations, reduce ticket volumes, and empower your customers to self-serve.

But the fact remains that, by and large, customers want to help themselves. In fact, it’s become an expectation. Statista found that 88% of customers expect a brand or organization to have an online self-service support portal. 

When your calendar is already packed and your team is already super busy, how can you move forward with giving customers what they want? 

Here are the exact steps you can take to launch an effective customer knowledge base within the next 30 days — broken out into five different phases. 

Phase 1: Organize and prep for your new knowledge base (Days 1-4)

The first few days are all about organizing the data you need to crank out content and prepping you and your team for the actual creation of the knowledge base. 

Step 1: Gather all current documentation

The first step in building an effective knowledge base is gathering all the documented knowledge your organization already has. This info may be housed in a training tool, Google Docs, Slack threads, an internal knowledge base, or even the macros and templates you use to communicate with customers.

Don’t be picky here. Take note of literally everything you find, even if it’s outdated or imperfect. You’re not looking for perfection here, you’re simply trying to gather everything that exists into one place. Even if something needs improving, it’s a starting point for your new knowledge base. 

Step 2: Determine the top reasons why customers contact your support department

Analyze your incoming support tickets. What are the top reasons customers are reaching out to you?

Chances are there are a handful of issues or questions that drive a large chunk of your inbound ticket volume.

Most support ticketing tools — like Zendesk, Help Scout, or Intercom — make it easy to understand these ticket drivers. It’s a good idea to pull data from the last year, as that will help you understand any seasonality. 

But if you don’t have clean data or an organized system, you can just start by asking your support team for their impressions. They’re working with customers all day, every day. They’ll have a good gut feeling about the main reasons customers need help.

Once you have the data, you’ll want to eliminate all the support tickets that have to be done by your support team. Some processes may need your involvement. Whether it’s due to a technical issue or a product shortcoming, you should eliminate any tickets from your analysis that require your team’s involvement. Your knowledge base may still help customers learn in those moments, but it won’t be able to empower them to fully self-serve (for now!).

Step 3: Decide where to store your new customer knowledge base

Your knowledge base should be housed in something secure but accessible. 

Google Docs in a public Google Drive might be able to handle this, but it’ll get unwieldy quickly. Navigation will be hard for customers and creating processes to maintain your knowledge base will be difficult.

That’s why it’s worth investing in software specifically designed for knowledge bases. 

There are some great knowledge base software solutions out there. Obviously, we think KnowledgeOwl is a great tool, and you can start a free trial of KnowledgeOwl here if you want to check it out.

But don’t get too caught up in picking the perfect one. Do some high-level research, choose the one that best matches your needs, and start using it.

Step 4: Recruit help and set expectations

If you’re leading this project, you’ll need some help — especially if you’re going to get it done in 30 days. 

Recruit your best team members to help with this. Give your project team the following information to set expectations clearly:

  • What the project is going to look like
  • The goal to launch within 30 days
  • Why you’re launching a customer-facing knowledge base and why the goal is 30 days. 
  • Expectations for the quality and length of the content
  • Any tips to prioritize the work

After your team is selected and expectations are set, it’s time to move on to the next phase. 

Phase 2: Build out your knowledge base’s structure and design (Days 5 and 6)

You have a team, a tool, a list of prioritized topics to cover, and any existing documentation as a starting point.

This next phase focuses on building out the structure and design of your knowledge base to make it user-friendly and searchable. 

Step 5: Decide on your main categories

Determine your help center’s structure by deciding how you will categorize your knowledge base help articles. 

This will depend a lot on your organization. You may want to categorize articles by product, by features, by use case, or by article type. What feels like it will be the most intuitive to your customers? 

While the structure of your knowledge base is important, great search functionality can make up for a less-than-perfect structure. You can also easily change the organization of your knowledge base later, so don’t get too caught up on this.

Step 6: Create content style guide(s)

 Style guides help to bring continuity to your documentation. They create a consistent experience and enable your customers to focus on what they’re reading or watching.

That’s why you should create a style guide for each type of help article you’re writing. 

For example, every product user guide should have the same key sections in the same order.

Every how-to article should follow the same basic outline of what the customer is trying to accomplish and step-by-step instructions on how to accomplish it. 

FAQ articles should follow the same pattern of stating the question and then stating the answer below it. 

Step 7: Design your knowledge base for a great customer experience

Searchability is key to a great knowledge base. This means you need to write content that uses the same terms your customers use. It also applies to the design of your knowledge base itself. 

Make sure you have a search bar that’s front and center. Something that’s so obvious it can’t be missed.

Here’s an example from KnowledgeOwl’s Support Knowledge Base:

A screenshot of KnowledgeOwl's Support Knowledge Base.

If you’re using a tool like KnowledgeOwl for your new knowledge base, it’s also a good idea to design a feedback loop for your knowledge base. Ratings help you understand where you can improve your knowledge base over time, typically through a binary thumbs up / thumbs down or a five star rating system. 

The bottom line is that you should remember to keep the customer experience in mind as you design your knowledge base to meet their needs. 

Phase 3: Content creation, organization, and structure (Days 7 through 26)

Phase three shifts your focus to your content. It’s by far the largest phase of the project, and for good reason. 

Your documentation is the heart of your knowledge base. Without clear documentation that answers the questions and resolves the issues your customers have, your knowledge base is pretty useless. In fact, a knowledge base that isn’t actually helpful can increase customer frustration — the exact opposite of what you’re after. 

Step 8: Write your content

This may seem self-explanatory, but writing content that is useful and meets your customers’ needs is more difficult than it sounds. Take just a little bit of time to learn how to write a helpful knowledge base article.

If you collected all of your existing documentation in step 1, then you may already have a good head start on this step. Use those resources to speed up your writing process — just remember that resources meant for internal users may need heavy editing before they’re helpful for customers.

As you write your help articles here are some things to keep in mind that will speed up the process and provide value to your customers:

  • Categorize them in a way that makes sense. Your customers should be able to easily browse your knowledge base and find what they need. You’ve already decided on the high-level structure for your knowledge base, so keep that in mind as you write.
  • Don’t make one article do all the heavy lifting. It can be tempting to start writing about one thing and have the scope of the article expand as you write — your how-to guide might turn into a Frankenstein of FAQs, how-tos, troubleshooting tips, and more. A better approach is to keep each article focused on one specific task.
  • Keep information concise and clear. This makes it easier for your customers to read your documentation and easier for you to write them.
  • Keep your titles plain. Your titles should accurately describe what the help article is about. This helps a lot with searchability and navigation.
  • Avoid jargon. Unless there are specific terms you know your customers use, avoid using industry jargon. Write how your customers speak. Use plain language in your title and throughout your article.
  • Use formatting well. Break up your content by using headings, bullet points, images, tables, and videos to supplement the text. This improves the readability of your help content and gives your customers options.

Step 9: Edit your content

If you have a team working with you —and I highly recommend you don’t do this alone if you can help it — then make editing a collaborative process. 

As soon as you’re finished writing an article, have someone else on your team look it over. They can suggest edits, check the quality, and provide a fresh pair of eyes to make sure it will do the job for your customers. 

Remember, you can always edit an article after it’s published. So while I don’t recommend throwing something into your help center without any editing, after a quick review or two and a round of revisions, you shouldn’t feel uncomfortable with hitting the publish button. 

Phase 5: Testing and launching your knowledge base (Days 27 through 30)

You’re in the home stretch! By now you’ve designed your knowledge base, created or updated content, and given it a good edit. Now it’s time to get it in front of your customers.

Step 10: Test everything

Once you get content uploaded to your knowledge base, it’s a great time to get a few other people who weren’t involved in the project involved.

A great way to do this is to give them a list of common questions or issues that your customers face. With nothing but that list and a link to your help center, are they able to find the answers or help they need?

Keep in mind that internal users typically have more product knowledge than customers so this isn’t a perfect litmus test — but it’s far better than nothing.

As these users navigate through your new knowledge base, take note of anywhere they get confused or stuck. These moments of friction don’t necessarily all have to be fixed before you share your knowledge base with your customers, but they’re areas you’ll want to improve over time. 

Step 11: Launch your knowledge base

You’re finally here! 

After you test everything out and make sure your content is where it needs to be, it’s time to get your knowledge base out into the wild!

Launching your knowledge base is exciting. And nerve-wracking. Hitting the “Activate” button or sending out an email to your customer base with the link is the hardest part of this process. You can also post it on any social channels your organization uses and include links in-app or in your support team’s email signatures.

Bottom line: a knowledge base is only helpful if your customers know it’s there and use it, so get the word out through every channel you can think of.

You’ve done a ton of work to get here, so hopefully everything goes smoothly. But if it doesn’t,  don’t worry! From here, you’ll switch your focus from launching to improving your knowledge base — a fun, rewarding, and never-ending project.

How to get through the challenges and pain points you’ll face

Throughout this process, you’re guaranteed to encounter some challenges and pain points. Some will be unique to launching your knowledge base so quickly, while others are common for any knowledge base creation or revamp.

Here are some of the most common challenges you’ll face in that 30-day window and how to overcome them.

1. Budget

Budget is always a concern for organizations, but that shouldn’t stop you from launching a great knowledge base for your customers. To get around budgetary concerns, you have a couple of options. 

First, you can share about the ROI of a knowledge base with your executive team. A good knowledge base reduces ticket volume, increases scalability, improves customer experience, and more. It’s a huge return on a relatively small investment.

Secondly, you can find a budget-friendly, standalone knowledge base software to house your articles. A product like KnowledgeOwl has pricing plans to fit any size company — you can get started for under $100/month. 

2. Perfectionism

Winston Churchill said, “Perfection is the enemy of progress.” 

You’re going to want to make things as good as possible, but trying to create the perfect knowledge base will slow down your timeline and cause you unneeded stress.

To get around this, set deadlines and milestones for yourself and your team that say “We’re only going to work on this until this specific date, and then that’ll be good enough.” 

You can (and will) keep improving after launch. 

3. Complicated content

Long, confusing articles filled with unclear steps are more common than you think. Remember, long articles take a lot of time to write and edit, and they also create a bad customer experience. 

Nobody wants to spend time reading a 15-minute article to get the help they need. The point of self-service is to get what you need faster.

This means you may need to be ruthless in your editing process. If more content in an article doesn’t help the customer move forward, cut it. If you’re unsure whether something is clear, get another set of eyes on it.

Use KnowledgeOwl to speed up your knowledge base launch

Having a budget-friendly, easy-to-use knowledge base software like KnowledgeOwl saves a ton of time when you’re aiming to launch a great knowledge base within a short time period.

With its powerful features and intuitive interface, KnowledgeOwl makes knowledge management a breeze. Give KnowledgeOwl a try for free today!

Tim Jordan

Tim is a support manager at and a writer for Supported Content. When he’s not busy leading his team, you’ll find him spending time with his wife and two daughters, usually on some Disney-related activity. He also blogs about personal finance at Atypical Finance.

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