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Building a knowledge base: a step-by-step guide

If you're considering building a knowledge base, you already have a head start over your competitors. That’s because you recognize the importance of offering 24/7 assistance to your customers, providing them with valuable resources and insights even when your support reps aren't on the clock.

Need some perspective? Here's a number to consider: our report Customer Service Trends 2023 revealed that 77% of support leaders plan to spend more on self-service tools, including knowledge base articles and FAQs, to increase efficiency.*

In this post, you'll learn about what building a knowledge base entails, including why it can be so important and what its key components are. You'll also get a comprehensive tutorial to help you implement your chosen solution, with examples of effective knowledge bases to inspire best practices.

What is a knowledge base?

A knowledge base is an online library packed with info about a company’s products, services, and processes. It’s there to help customers find what they need without having to contact a human support rep. In short, it serves as your customers’ go-to place for quick and precise answers.!

Knowledge bases are particularly useful when customers have questions outside of normal business hours and don't have the time or inclination to wait for a response from employees.

Building a knowledge base goes beyond providing customers with enhanced convenience, though. It also demonstrates to them that you respect their time and autonomy, and are proactively seeking solutions that enable them to solve problems at their own pace, without sacrificing too much of their bandwidth or disrupting their schedules. 

Knowledge base benefits

A good knowledge base brings many benefits for your customers and your support team – it enhances the quality of your customer service in a number of ways. Here, we identify the primary benefits you can expect to see from building a knowledge base.

1. It can enhance customer satisfaction

Our previously mentioned Customer Service Trends report shows that 83% of customer support teams have seen an increase in the expectations customers have of support. Of this percentage, only 40% are confident that they’ll be able to rise to the occasion and provide this additional support. 

But what exactly are these teams doing to meet these expectations? Data from the same study indicates that in addition to investing in better training (53%), optimizing workflow efficiency (50%), and hiring/retaining talented reps (43%), companies are focused on offering quick and on-demand support (43%).

This is where the importance of learning how to build a knowledge base comes into play. A well-structured platform allows you to offer a broad foundation of critical information to your customers at any time, empowering them to explore your products and services independently. 

In addition to making them feel more in control of their choices, a knowledge base also reduces potential areas of frustration, as customers don’t have to navigate multiple channels or wait in long queues to get the assistance they’re looking for.

Customer satisfaction is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to gauging your performance. Delve deeper into essential KPIs in this enlightening article: How to keep customer support KPIs meaningful for your support team.

2. It can save your support reps time

Another valuable insight from our Customer Service Trends report is that a staggering 75% of support leaders plan to increase their technology spending over the next 12 months in order to help them manage conversation volume. That includes combining automation and AI efforts, for example.

Look at Verena Kuhn, Director of Customer Experience at Pitch. She's already reaping the rewards of using a knowledge base to boost her company's help center.

3. It can improve your support team’s morale

Building a knowledge base can make a bigger difference than you think. Our 2023 Customer Service Trends report reveals that 81% of support leaders believe technology, like automated support tools, can boost employee engagement and attrition rates in their support teams.

By relieving support reps of the burden of answering a high volume of repetitive questions daily, you can free them up to focus on the areas where they can have the greatest business impact.

Furthermore, a knowledge base plays a pivotal role for support reps, as it serves as a reliable source of verifiable information about their company, enhancing communication consistency and providing comprehensive product documentation. This not only fosters self-sufficiency among customers but also aids in the seamless training of new support staff, creating a more efficient support environment.

What are the key components of a solid knowledge base?

If you’re wondering what the most important factors are to making an effective knowledge base, look no further. Categories, articles, and search functionality are the backbone of a platform that truly empowers customers and enhances overall business effectiveness. Let’s see how each component contributes to a successful support interaction!

1. Categories

A knowledge base should be organized into different categories to make it easier for users to find information on a specific topic.

For instance, a software company's knowledge base could be divided into sections like:

  • Implementation

  • Troubleshooting

  • User guides

  • Updates

This categorization allows users to quickly find the information they need without having to sift through pages of content that’s not relevant to their specific question. 

Another example of effective categorization can be seen in an e-commerce company's knowledge base. In this case, support sections can be structured around products or services, with subcategories for common questions, such as:

  • Shopping: How to buy or search for an item, how to create a wishlist, and how to set up an account.

  • Payment: What payment methods are available, how to use gift cards and coupons, and what the taxes and fees are.

  • Delivery: How to update your shipping address, how to check the status of your order, and how to cancel it before it arrives.

  • Post-purchase: How to write a review, recommend a product to a friend, or ask for a refund.

By organizing the knowledge base in this way, users can easily find the information they need, leading to increased satisfaction with your company – and all the benefits that comes with.

2. Articles

Articles are the individual pieces of content that make up the knowledge base. A good article should be comprehensive and cover all aspects of a topic in detail. It should also be structured in a way that makes it easy for users to navigate and find the specific information they’re looking for. 

For instance, an article on “How to change your subscription plan” should be broken down into sub-sections such as available options, advantages of upgrading, and a tutorial with a clear explanation of the process to do so.

Furthermore, a valuable article satisfies users' needs. This means that the content should be tailored to the target audience and their specific interests or concerns. For example, a knowledge base for a wine store might have articles on "How to choose the best wine for desserts," "How to store your bottles appropriately," and "How important is the harvest?”

3. Search functionality

A search bar is an important component of a knowledge base, as it allows users to input specific keywords or phrases to quickly find the information they need. 

Imagine a user wants to learn how to pick the right plants for their apartment. When you build a knowledge base with search functionality, you allow them to simply type "choose a plant" into the search bar and the platform will return all relevant guides. 

Without the search bar’s functionality, users may have to spend time scrolling through irrelevant content to find what they’re looking for, leading to frustration and even dissatisfaction with your product. 

What does building a knowledge base entail?

Now that we’ve covered the definition, the importance, and the key components of a solid knowledge base, it's time to delve deeper into the intricacies of constructing such a platform.

1. Mapping out support needs

Identifying the most common pain points and questions that your customers have is a crucial step when starting the process of building a knowledge base. This brainstorming allows your support team to spend their time creating content that is relevant and applicable to your customers’ primary concerns. 

One effective way to accomplish this is by determining the frequently asked questions (FAQs) that come up in your communication channels, including your chat, email, and social media platforms. 

Let's say you run an e-commerce store that sells clothes. You notice that many customers have inquiries about your return policy.

By pinpointing this support need, you can create a comprehensive article that outlines the return policy in detail, including the steps customers need to follow to initiate the process and any associated costs.

This will not only reduce the number of inquiries related to returns, but also increase customer satisfaction by providing them with valuable information that’s easily accessible 24/7.

2. Speaking the language of your customers

For online businesses whose customers come from all over the world and speak many different languages, it’s essential to have a multilingual support system in place. This ensures that they can communicate effectively with your team, regardless of the language they speak.

Currently, businesses are not providing adequate multilingual support. According to our survey, while many support teams claim to offer help in multiple languages (88%), only 28% of users actually obtain assistance in their own language.

This means that businesses have an excellent opportunity to stand out and separate themselves from the competition simply by providing multilingual support. Companies that offer this kind of support may even have the chance to expand their customer base: 35% of users are even willing to switch to a product that supports their native language.

To meet this need, you should consider translating your knowledge base into multiple languages, thereby enabling every customer to effortlessly discover solutions independently. 

Our knowledge base solution allows you to automatically deliver relevant help content to customers in their preferred language within their chosen channel.

Moreover, as it seamlessly integrates with the Inbox, your team can utilize this content to offer quicker and more consistent responses to a diversity of customers.

3. Monitoring KPIs

Building a knowledge base requires careful planning and execution to ensure that the final product meets the needs of its intended audience. In this context, monitoring key performance indicators (KPIs) can contribute to tracking your knowledge base’s effectiveness and subsequently making data-driven decisions that enhance its utility for your customers. 

Following up on user engagement, for example, can help you identify which articles are most popular and which ones need improvement.

Likewise, monitoring search queries can shine a light on the most common customer questions and concerns, allowing you to prioritize the creation of new content or update existing articles. 

Finally, keeping an eye on conversion rates can enable you to measure the success of your knowledge base in reducing support requests, cutting down wait times, and improving customer satisfaction.

4. Leveraging AI

Imagine a knowledge base as the strong foundation supporting your AI chatbot. Even if customers don't directly check the knowledge base, the valuable information stored within it empowers the AI chatbot to offer accurate and prompt assistance whenever they need it.

As AI bots depend on a vast pool of information to function effectively, an optimized and well-organized knowledge base is crucial to their success.

To ensure your knowledge base can help your chatbot to deliver top-notch service to your customers, you need to:

  • Simplify your article's language, avoiding “yes” or “no” answers.

  • Create a scannable structure, with heading tags, numbered lists, and bullet points to make it easier for bots to extract a specific piece of information.

  • Restate questions, so the bot can answer correctly and in context.

Need extra tips? Get ready for AI bots by optimizing your knowledge base.

Building a knowledge base step-by-step

1. Identify the target audience

Before creating any article, determine who the knowledge base is for. By doing so, you can tailor your content to your customers’ needs and preferences.

A good starting point is to create buyer personas – fictional representations of your ideal customers. They can help you understand your audience's chief characteristics, including their goals, challenges, pain points, and preferred communication channels.

For example, when tailoring your knowledge base for game developers, focus on crafting technical content that tackles their unique challenges. Conversely, when catering to players, prioritize creating easily digestible articles that offer clear, step-by-step instructions.

2. Determine the purpose of the knowledge base

The purpose of a knowledge base can vary depending on the needs of the business. Some common goals, however, include educating customers, providing support, and troubleshooting issues.

If you’re aiming to educate customers, your knowledge base should focus on instructional content that helps them better understand your product or service. You should also consider creating a series of tutorials or videos to make the learning process more engaging.

Alternatively, if you're using the knowledge base to provide support, you'll want to create articles that address common questions and issues that your customers may encounter. This could include how-to guides, FAQs, and step-by-step instructions.

Finally, if your objective is to troubleshoot issues, you'll need to create content that is highly detailed and technical in nature. You'll also want to make sure that your knowledge base is searchable so that users can locate the information they require quickly and without extensively parsing through unrelated content.

3. Create a content plan

A strong content plan should outline what topics will be covered, and in what format. For example, will the content consist of articles, videos, infographics, or a combination of different formats?

It's also important to consider the organization of the content. Make sure your piece is structured in a logical way, which may involve grouping similar topics together or creating a search function that allows users to quickly find the information they’re looking for. 

A content plan will not only help guide the creation of the knowledge base, but will also ensure that the content is comprehensive and meets the needs of the intended audience. By taking the time to develop a course of action, you can create a knowledge base that is effective, user-friendly, and helps achieve your business goals.

4. Organize the knowledge base

Categories allow you to group related content together, making it easier for users to find what they're looking for. Alternatively, tags provide a way to label content with specific keywords, making it easier for customers to find related content across different categories.

5. Write and create content

When it comes to writing and creating content for your knowledge base, clarity is key. You want to make sure that your articles are easily understood by your users. To get this done, avoid using complex jargon, acronyms, or technical terms that might confuse your audience.

Here are some actionable tips to enhance your content’s clarity:

  • Use headings and subheadings to make articles easy to navigate.

  • Take advantage of bullet points and numbered lists to make the content more scannable and easier to digest.

  • Consider adding images, videos, or diagrams to help illustrate complex ideas.

6. Test and refine

The final step in your journey to building an effective knowledge base is to regularly review and update your content to ensure that it remains up-to-date, accurate, and relevant to your customers. You also want to create opportunities to get feedback from them and make changes as their demands evolve.

Examples of effective knowledge bases

Looking for case studies of companies that have effectively implemented knowledge bases? We’ve got you covered.


Inter, the Brazilian digital banking super app, has crafted a brilliant strategy that revolves around innovation and customer-centric solutions. With over 20 million customers, their mission is clear: simplify lives. They've achieved this not just through financial services but by integrating a whole array of features from money management to online shopping.

As Inter’s customer base grew, their daily interactions increased from 11,000 to 60,000. It was clear that the bank needed a solution that could help their support team manage the flood of queries more efficiently. So Intercom’s customer service platform came to the rescue.

Intercom empowered Inter to track conversations in real time, identify trends, and proactively address issues, ensuring they responded to questions within two minutes.

Also, by recognizing that their customers wanted to help themselves, Inter leveraged Intercom’s self-serve support features like Articles and Bots. They also utilize several integrations in order to meet the expectations of customers who prefer to receive digital support. This approach met the digital expectations of their customer base, allowing their audience to resolve issues independently.

“We know that they like to try and resolve issues themselves, which is why we leverage bots and automation,” says Lais Belico, Solutions & Client Experience Analyst at Inter.


Keen is an API that lets developers build complex, custom, large-scale analytics and data science features directly into their web, mobile, or Internet of Things applications.

To communicate with more than 50,000 developers that use their platform, Keen needed a powerful solution with cutting-edge features to provide efficiency at scale. And the company needed to find something that didn’t sacrifice the personal touch that creates a great experience from onboarding to support.

Using Intercom, Keen has integrated their customer support systems, ensuring their help desk and knowledge base collaborate seamlessly to address customer queries.

The help center serves as the initial point of contact for users seeking assistance, offering a wide range of resources such as technical articles and product guides, empowering users to find solutions independently

If users encounter problems beyond their capability, they can easily contact Keen's help desk through the Intercom Messenger.


Building a knowledge base can be a key factor in scaling your business. It helps you create a better experience for your customers by providing them with quick, comprehensive answers to their questions without requiring them to wait in time-consuming queues. In addition, it can also save you time and money by reducing the number of incoming support requests.

To ensure the success of your knowledge base, it's important to follow best practices and learn from companies that have implemented it effectively.

With Intercom, you can easily create and manage a knowledge base that meets the needs of your customers:

  • Create unique help content and serve it to different audiences, like paid users, visitors, and customers who speak different languages.

  • Use our editor to effortlessly add images, videos, call-to-action buttons, and interactive guides to your articles.

  • Leverage our built-in feedback loops to clearly see what’s working and how to make articles better for your customers.

  • Know exactly what articles to write next based on what your customers searched for but couldn’t find.

Try it out today and join over 25,000 companies that are already delivering conversational experiences with Intercom.


* Intercom, Customer Service Trends Report 2023. We asked 1,700+ customer support teams across the world how they’re meeting the challenges and opportunities of 2023.