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How to build an effective IT service desk knowledge base

Posted August 16, 2022
Illustration of laptop computer with book pages coming out of it, and various labeled icons in the background, meant to symbolize a knowledge base

Rising IT service desk contact volumes and increasing expectations for fast, efficient help seem like they’re in direct competition. Many companies feel like they have to pick one challenge to solve: either speed up response times or improve the quality of service.

How is it possible to provide both without hiring more agents?

Thankfully, these conundrums share a common solution: an IT service desk knowledge base to improve first call resolution and positively influence the customer and employee experience, while boosting operational efficiency.

How help is delivered matters a great deal. To increase productivity and improve the employee experience, team members need to be able to access guidance in a way that is organized and efficient. And with 60% of tech leaders surveyed by TELUS International estimating that IT downtime cost their business between $500,000 and $3 million in 2021, it’s critical that issues are resolved with urgency.

The onus is therefore on IT leaders to provide their employees with a robust knowledge base that empowers team members to remedy their own IT issues, where possible.

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What is a knowledge base?

A knowledge base is a collection of information designed to help individuals find the answers to commonly held questions, to help troubleshoot issues and find a speedy resolution. This is usually made up of a range of different formats including FAQs, how-to articles, guides and videos.

Best practices for building your IT service desk knowledge base

The usefulness of your knowledge base comes down to two important elements: the clarity of the content and the overall structure.

Creating content for your knowledge base

FAQs or wikis are a good place to start when building your IT service desk knowledge base. You can mine your IT support data to uncover the most common queries, then develop an FAQ answering them in a simple, straightforward manner. Topics may include setting up your workstation, how and where to find important platforms, email settings and account information.

How-to articles are also a great resource to explain the technical ins and outs of using particular applications by instructing employees how to work through both the basic and advanced aspects of troubleshooting. And, by incorporating photos, videos and screenshots into these documents, you’ll help make the instructions easy to understand and follow.

When creating content for your knowledge base, it’s worth soliciting feedback from team members about the kind of information they need or wish they’d had. This will help ensure the content you create is relevant.

Structuring your knowledge base

It’s vital that your knowledge base is easy to search and navigate, meaning both new and seasoned employees can find the information they need. The first step is creating categories and sub-categories that will make it easy for them to navigate to the area they need. For example, you might have a category labeled “Troubleshooting” with sub-categories for each of the different elements of IT support.

Applying the principles of usability, regardless of the target audience, is a wise decision. Using intuitive search terms and a well-organized suite of information written in clear, concise language — alongside supporting imagery — helps everyone, from new recruits to managers and executives, throughout the company.

A consistent knowledge base structure will go a long way in ensuring its usefulness, as will a well-indexed search. This should include an advanced search function with filters. The added benefit of developing such a tool is that it allows you to see what search terms your staff are using regularly to find information. If there’s a question or issue that keeps coming up, it may be worthwhile to include a prominent FAQ on that topic or even a how-to article on the front page of your knowledge base.

IT service desk knowledge base management

Managing a knowledge base is just as important as creating one in the first place. Your FAQs and how-to articles must be kept up to date, all while adding new information based on new products, searches and submitted tickets.

This is why it’s vital you have a dedicated team with excellent insight into the business to manage the knowledge base. The team should be responsible for sourcing and writing updates, ensuring pages and questions are easy to understand and adding new information as business processes evolve and problems are resolved. This ensures the knowledge base remains a useful resource.

The impact on the employee experience

In the current competitive market, companies can really differentiate themselves when it comes to the employee experience. Pulling out all the stops to deliver best-in-class, dedicated IT support to employees, regardless of their location, is essential to maintaining a thriving business.

A high-quality knowledge base will help employees and IT support staff provide team members with the right answers to their questions as quickly as possible, keeping employee satisfaction high while reducing the need to route to a more senior member of staff. This will have a positive and lasting impact on a company’s productivity and operational efficiency.

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