It’s no fun receiving negative feedback, but we’ve found that it’s incredibly valuable sometimes. For example if you want to improve your Knowledge Base. What do you do when a knowledge item is deemed ‘not helpful’ by your customers? Here’s our approach:

At TOPdesk, we don’t only supply software for support departments – we also have our own internal one. Our support department allows all department employees to create and publish knowledge items. Why? Because all employees have valuable knowledge to share and the sooner that knowledge gets to the customer, the better.

Another thing we do is to allow users provide feedback on whether the knowledge items they consulted were useful to them or not. This provided some interesting insight.

(If you don’t have a Knowledge Base yet, by the way, read how to set one up here.)

Are you considering getting started with knowledge management? Calculate how much time it would save your service desk.

Ensuring the quality of knowledge items

To ensure the quality of our knowledge items, a number of knowledge base enthusiasts come together every month to look for opportunities to improve and optimize. And we regularly review items customers have marked ‘not helpful.’

We start by selecting all items that are regularly marked ‘not helpful’ – plus, ones that have never been marked helpful. Most crucially, we also analyse which items have been marked ‘not helpful’ most often in the past three months.

Why Knowledge Items aren't always helpful

So far, in our data adventures, we’ve found there are three main reasons why our customers judge knowledge items to be ‘not helpful:’

1. Knowledge items are incomplete. When your customer gets to see a knowledge item, they expect to get the full answer to their question. Sometimes knowledge items are incomplete or could use some contextual information.
2. Knowledge items may contain incorrect or outdated information. Or maybe the title doesn’t match the content, or you’ve provided links that no longer work.
3. When a customer finds a knowledge item, they expect it to solve their problem. But sometimes the knowledge item says that there is no solution available at the moment. Even if this information is perfectly correct, these knowledge item may still be considered unhelpful, because your customer isn’t satisfied. Maybe the answer you’ve provided simply isn’t what the customer wants to hear

Edit and complete your knowledge items

Points 1 and 2 in the list above are relatively easy to fix. You can add information to incomplete items and you can correct mistakes. Most support employees can make small adjustments when they encounter problematic knowledge items.

Find a source of feedback

Solving point 3 is more complicated. We found success in providing a workaround for problems that the user can’t solve – and making messages as positive and encouraging as possible. The language you choose is a huge part of the Knowledge Base user experience.

If you want to find out what knowledge items just aren’t working, you can use unsatisfactory knowledge items as a source of feedback on your services. Either your developers may want to improve their software, or you could improve your services or resolution process.

More Knowledge Management tips & tricks

Want more inspiration on building better knowledge bases? Download our Knowledge Management e-book for tips and tricks and a way to calculate your time and cost savings.