Why Knowledge Bases Fail Non-Technical Users

ProductCXUX
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Abe Storey

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Published on 2022-03-25

Knowledge bases are in-depth treasure-troves of SEO-rich, product-specific content, and an excellent fallback option for overwhelmed support teams. At the end of the day though, this is where your monthly active users go to drop out of product experiences and vanish from the analytics.

A product experience that leans too heavily on knowledge bases to support product adoption will inevitably see poor retention, but what’s the alternative?

In this article, we’ll cover:

  • How a knowledge base can have a negative impact on your in-product analytics

  • How your customer personas can impact the efficacy of a knowledge base

  • Using knowledge base analytics to shape your product roadmap

  • And empowering your support team AND users with stronger product experiences

A knowledge base puts the onus on the user to figure things out

Support teams copy and paste a lot of troubleshooting protocols, so it only makes sense that those pieces of content should live somewhere where users can access them to find their own way around a product interface.

The problem with that, of course, is that it creates a high-friction user experience, and pulls the user directly out of the product in order to actually use the product.

A run to the support chat is rough enough on user retention, but what happens when a user falls into the winding web of backlinks in your KB?

Ultimately, even the strongest KBs wind up making the user do the work of figuring out a product, when ideally, the product is so intuitive to use that it no longer necessitates support channels in the first place.

For diverse user pools, a KB may not be the best option

Entri works with a lot of platforms, and one thing we’ve heard from talking to our customers is that the users for these products are no longer homogenous. Gone are the days when a tech product’s users were solely made up of webmasters and engineers. Instead, these customer bases are increasingly being replaced by business end users, and that presents a potential problem for effective KB content creation.

Where non-technical users are concerned, KBs can be well-intentioned pits of despair that put users in the middle of technological terminology that they barely understand – the learning curve is too sharp. This can make the customer associate feelings of frustration and insecurity with the use of your product, and in turn, shop for a more user-friendly competitor.

Frictionless UXs > robust KBs

At the end of the day, a knowledge base is helpful for tech-competent users who have some confidence surrounding the use of your products already. In other words, the people who stand to gain the most from KB content, are less likely to even need it. 

If you have a customer base that is made up of a diverse array of end users, then it’s even more important to put more of your resources into reducing friction in your product experience to better support these non-technical end users.

Using your KB analytics to drive smart UX design practices

One upside of relying heavily on a KB is that you have a ton of data to work with after a while. Based on the number of support tickets routed to these pages and the organic or referral traffic, you can estimate where your customers are encountering the most friction in their product experiences.

Strong KBs can create rich data sets that provide marketing insights useful to product teams. From there, you can reinforce your efforts on a strategy that services a measurable gap in the user experience, and in turn make your customer base less dependent on a KB to stay in the product funnel.

Get your users out of the stress of DNS configuration with Entri

Few knowledge base articles see more traction and backlinks than the exhaustive guides on DNS setup. But for non-technical end users, these articles and tutorials simply aren’t enough.

These customers just don’t get it. DNS is complex, and is also critical to get right. Inevitably, support needs to get involved anyway.

Entri streamlines the DNS setup process from start to finish, in a seamless wizard that takes only a few seconds, and inputs the new records for your user, never having them leave the onboarding flow.

Activate your users right away, cut down on DNS-related support tickets, and give your users a frictionless product experience that will keep them out of the KB and in the products you designed for them.

Try an instant demo

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