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FAQs vs. knowledge bases: which is better for your business?

In today's fast-paced world, where instant gratification and immediacy reign supreme, the phrase "time is of the essence" has taken on even greater urgency – especially as it relates to customer service.

Customers expect their needs to be met quickly and efficiently, and often have little patience for delays or excessively long waiting times. This shift in customer expectations has driven the rise of self-service, with the most prominent examples of this trend being Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) and knowledge bases. In fact, our Customer Service Trends Report 2024 indicates that 40% of C-level support execs are planning to empower customer to self-serve answers to their own questions.1

These resources provide customers with the ability to find answers and resolve issues independently, without having to invest the time and mental bandwidth to reach out to customer support agents.

While both FAQs and knowledge bases provide valuable information to customers, they serve distinct purposes and each offer their own unique benefits. Understanding these differences is crucial for organizations seeking to empower customers and optimize their support strategy.

Join us as we compare FAQs vs knowledge bases. In this article, we'll explore their distinct functionalities and respective strengths and weaknesses, helping you choose the best option for your customer support needs.

Understanding FAQs (frequently asked questions)

FAQs, the popular acronym for frequently asked questions, are a staple of customer support. Their design and function are incredibly simple: a list of questions customers commonly ask about a product, service, or process, along with their corresponding answers.

This streamlined experience benefits both the customer and the organization. On the one hand, customers get instant answers to their questions, saving them valuable time. And on the other, businesses can reduce support tickets and workload for customer service agents, allowing them to focus on more complex issues.

The critical characteristics of FAQs are:

  • Focus on common questions: They address the most commonly asked queries from your customers.

  • Structured and concise: FAQs are usually bulleted lists featuring short paragraphs and clear headings, providing easy reading and navigation for any and all users.

  • Regularly updated: FAQ pages are updated frequently with new information to maintain accuracy and relevance.

Put simply, an FAQ page acts as a filter for customer service departments, pulling out the simplest, most straightforward queries and directing those customers to readily available information. They offer clear and concise directions, guiding individuals to the information they need and preventing them from getting lost in the vast landscape of your website or app. Over time, this independence fosters a sense of self-reliance and satisfaction.

Benefits of FAQs

FAQ pages are more than just a simple list of questions and answers. They’re a powerful tool for both businesses and customers. Here's how they contribute to a thriving customer support process:

  • Faster resolution and improved customer satisfaction: An FAQ page empowers customers to find answers to their queries quickly and at their own convenience, eliminating the need to wait for support. Instead, it helps them navigate through information at their own pace. This self-service approach leads to faster issue resolution and a sense of control for customers, ultimately enhancing their overall satisfaction with the brand.

  • Operational efficiency and reduced support tickets: Businesses can significantly reduce the number of support tickets generated by addressing common questions through FAQs. This strategy frees up valuable time and resources for customer service representatives, allowing them to focus their expertise on more unique, complex issues. It also streamlines support processes, resulting in cost savings, improved resource allocation, and a more effective use of personnel within the organization.

  • 24/7 availability and greater accessibility: FAQs provide users with continuous access to information, addressing queries any time, day or night, without requiring them to reach out during specific business hours. This availability aligns with the expectations of a global and diverse user base. The round-the-clock accessibility, coupled with the written format, caters to various learning preferences and accessibility needs, facilitating a more inclusive customer experience that will ultimately win over all different types of people.

  • Increased website traffic: FAQ pages play a role in improving a website's search engine ranking by providing relevant and regularly updated content. As users search for answers to their questions, they are more likely to land on the company's website, increasing overall traffic. This not only benefits the visibility of the website but also presents additional opportunities for user engagement.

  • Consistent information delivery: FAQ pages help maintain consistency in responses across various customer communication channels to deliver a unified and coherent brand voice. Users receive the same accurate information regardless of the channel they use, reducing confusion and enhancing their overall experience with the brand.

The bottom line is that the benefits of FAQs go well beyond simply providing answers to common questions. Businesses can utilize them to build stronger customer relationships, enhance brand reputation, and achieve sustainable success.

Understanding knowledge bases

Unlike an FAQ page that focuses on concise, clearly explained answers to common inquiries, knowledge bases cover a broader spectrum of topics. They provide comprehensive information and in-depth resources, allowing individuals to find whatever specific piece of information they’re looking for without contacting a customer support rep.

Knowledge bases are vast digital libraries of articles, tutorials, videos, and other resources related to a product or service. This enormous repository of information goes far beyond what FAQ pages can provide, offering a more empowering and self-sufficient experience for users seeking solutions.

The main qualities of a knowledge base are:

  • Comprehensive: Knowledge bases covers a wide array of topics and issues — from basic inquiries to more complex troubleshooting scenarios.

  • Detailed: They provide detailed information and step-by-step instructions, often accompanied by helpful screenshots, videos, and other practical visual aids.

  • Structured: The bases are typically organized by categories, subcategories, and relevant keywords, enabling users to navigate effortlessly and locate the information they need quickly.

  • Searchable: They utilize effective keywords and tags, helping individuals pinpoint specific information within seconds.

  • Up-to-date: Finally, they’re regularly updated with the latest information, ensuring customers have access to resources that are accurate, relevant, and topical. 

Companies typically have two types of knowledge bases. Learn more about them.

Benefits of knowledge bases

Businesses can empower customers, enhance self-service, and deliver an exceptional experience by implementing a well-organized and regularly updated knowledge base. Some of the most notable benefits of this popular self-service resource include:

  • Enhanced customer support: A centralized repository of information allows customers to access essential information unassisted and whenever necessary. This reduces the dependency on direct support channels and accelerates issue resolution, contributing to an overall improvement in customer satisfaction (CSAT).

  • Better resource utilization: Implementing a knowledge base allows businesses to optimize resource allocation across their customer support process. With users finding answers to basic concerns on their own, frontline teams can focus on more complex issues, improving efficiency and cost-effectiveness in their operations.

  • Empowered customers: By offering them a self-service platform to find information, troubleshoot problems, and learn about products or services on their own terms, customers are empowered in a vital, long-lasting way. This fosters a sense of self-sufficiency among users, enhancing their overall experience with your company.

  • Multilingual: According to our research, 35% of end users would switch to a product that offers support in their native tongue. Knowledge bases can reduce this potential churn for your business by allowing it to easily translate existing content into multiple languages to ensure accessibility and inclusivity for a global audience. This removes language barriers and creates a more positive and inclusive experience for all your current and future customers.

  • Automation and AI: Integrated with automation and artificial intelligence (AI) technology, knowledge bases can streamline support experiences by recommending relevant articles and content based on individual user needs and preferences. AI chatbots like Fin, for instance, can answer simple questions, guide users to relevant articles, and resolve issues before they escalate.

  • Centralized information hub: They serve as a central repository of information, ensuring consistent messaging across all communication channels. Plus, these repositories organize resources systematically while maintaining a high level of accessibility. Users can always find accurate and standardized information across different topics.

  • Analytics and reporting: Top-level knowledge bases are more than just databases or libraries. They’re equipped with tools that provide valuable insights into user behavior, popular search queries, and content engagement. The troves of data these bases can gather allow businesses to identify trends, refine content, and continuously improve service delivery.

  • Better knowledge sharing: Internally, a knowledge base facilitates information sharing among team members. It serves as a platform for sharing best practices, insights, and critical information, promoting collaboration and enhancing the collective knowledge within a given organization.

  • Organic search visibility and ranking: Comprehensive and informative content repositories attract organic search traffic, increasing brand visibility and attracting new customers. This higher search engine ranking leads to increased website traffic and drives potential customers to the brand and its products or services. Ultimately, organic search visibility contributes to a broader brand reach and increased brand awareness.

Read this detailed guide on building a knowledge base to get best results.

What’s the difference between FAQs and knowledge bases?

While both FAQs and knowledge bases serve as valuable resources for customer support, they differ significantly in their content, structure, and intended purpose.

But before we dive deeper, here’s a table summarizing the key differences between the two self-service resources:


  • Format: Simple list of questions and answers.

  • Scope: Limited to common and straightforward questions.

  • Complexity: Suitable for quick reference, less so for more complex issues or highly specific scenarios. 

  • Creation and maintenance: Easy to create and maintain.

  • Searchability: Limited search capabilities.

  • Adaptability: Limited adaptability to changing information.

  • User Experience: Simple and direct – ideal for quick answers.

Knowledge bases

  • Format: Structured repository with articles, guides, and FAQs.

  • Scope: Comprehensive coverage of a wide range of topics.

  • Complexity: Built for and able to accommodate both common and intricate problems.

  • Creation and maintenance: Resource-intensive, requiring ongoing effort and regular updating. 

  • Searchability: Advanced search features and keyword tagging.

  • Adaptability: Adaptable to evolving business needs with regular updates.

  • User Experience: More comprehensive and immersive learning model.

Here’s a more detailed take on FAQs vs knowledge bases that examines various key aspects of the self-service tools:

Structure and format

FAQs are typically presented as a simple list of questions with their corresponding answers, often organized by category.

Knowledge bases are larger, more structured repositories. They organize information systematically, often using categories, tags, and a hierarchical format, allowing users to engage in a more in-depth exploration.

Content depth

FAQs concisely answer frequently asked questions, often addressing common and straightforward queries. The content tends to be brief and may need more detailed explanations.

Knowledge bases offer comprehensive content, covering various topics with in-depth explanations. They go beyond simple Q&A, providing detailed articles, guides, and troubleshooting steps.


Searchability in FAQs relies on the effectiveness of keyword matching. Users can search for specific questions, but the results those searches yield may be limited to exact wording.

Knowledge bases often have advanced search functionality, allowing users to find information using keywords, phrases, or even natural language processing (NLP). This enhances the search experience and increases the chances of obtaining relevant results.


FAQs are appropriate for addressing common questions with answers and context that don’t change dramatically over time. 

Knowledge bases are adaptable and can be updated regularly to reflect changes to products, services, or industry standards. This adaptability ensures the information remains current and relevant.

User experience

FAQs offer a simple and direct user experience, quickly answering basic questions. However, they may not cater to users with more complex or specific needs.

Knowledge bases provide a more comprehensive and immersive learning model for users seeking detailed information. The user experience is more robust and capable of accommodating a broader range of queries.


Because of their clean, simple design, FAQs are easy to scale. Businesses can conveniently add to the list of existing questions and answers if they notice specific queries that keep coming up on tickets and that can be easily addressed with an FAQ.

Knowledge bases, too, are scalable and can accommodate a growing volume of information and users. As the scope of information expands, they can adapt to meet increased demands. 

Their significant advantage in leveraging automation and AI, however, sets knowledge bases apart from FAQ pages. Businesses can use these technologies to automate the creation and updating of content, ensuring that the central repository stays dynamic and continues to address evolving user needs with responsiveness and efficiency. 

Here’s how you keep customer support KPIs (key performance indicators) meaningful for your support team.

FAQs vs knowledge bases: strengths and weaknesses

The respective strengths and weaknesses of FAQs vs knowledge bases differ considerably. Understanding exactly how they differ, and the nuances between one resource’s positive and negative attributes compared with the other’s, is crucial for choosing the best approach for your needs.

FAQs are simple, offering a quick and direct solution for common issues. Their straightforward nature is ideal for resolving basic queries promptly, providing users with immediate answers. The simplicity of FAQ pages makes them easily accessible and user-friendly, contributing to a positive customer experience.

However, FAQs face limitations in addressing complexities. Their predefined format may result in ambiguous answers, and they may not provide in-depth explanations or solutions for intricate problems. 

Additionally, FAQ pages are susceptible to incomplete or outdated information, and they may not be adequately prepared for unforeseen scenarios, leaving users with more specific or evolving issues without sufficient support.

Knowledge bases, in contrast, serve as a comprehensive self-service solution for customer support. Their adaptable nature allows them to cover a wide range of topics, effectively addressing both common and more singular and unusual  issues. 

Their main strengths include adaptability, in-depth content, and advanced search functionality that enhances the user experience. Automation and modern technologies, such as AI, further contribute to their effectiveness and the sense of maximum convenience and accessibility for customers. 

The main weakness of knowledge bases lies in the time, effort, and resources required to keep them accurate, relevant, and well-positioned to help customers’ current needs. 

AI is transforming customer service. Stay in the know with our State of AI in Customer Service 2023 report.

Use cases and implementation strategies

As the above side-by-side comparison has hopefully demonstrated, FAQs and knowledge bases are each ideal for different situations, depending on your specific goals and target audience. However, in most cases, a combination of FAQs and knowledge bases will create a more comprehensive, all-encompassing service experience.

FAQ pages are a great option if your business intends to:

  1. Address common and straightforward queries: They are ideal for answering frequently asked, simple questions with readily available, concise answers. This includes basic product features, troubleshooting steps, and general information.

  2. Provide quick reference information: They offer a quick and easy way for users to find specific information without needing to search through an extensive knowledge base. This can be helpful for remembering specific instructions, accessing definitions, or finding links to relevant resources.

A knowledge base is your best bet if you want to:

  1. Offer resources for complex or technical topics: For issues requiring in-depth explanations and detailed information, knowledge bases are the preferred choice. They allow for structured content organization, and frequently include step-by-step instructions, diagrams, and videos, all of which can guide your users through any number of complex processes.

  2. Create a comprehensive self-service support hub: They can serve as a central hub for all support resources, incorporating various content formats and providing users with a complete and easily searchable repository of information.

The hybrid approach — combining FAQs and knowledge bases

By combining the strengths of both FAQs and knowledge bases, businesses can create a robust and comprehensive self-service support ecosystem that caters to the diverse needs of their users.

For instance, FAQ pages can serve as a helpful starting point for users navigating a product or service. They can strategically guide users towards additional resources or direct them to the most relevant sections of the knowledge base.

This hybrid approach provides a seamless user experience by offering quick access to simple answers and more detailed, multifaceted resources for more complicated issues that can’t be resolved with a three-sentence answer. 

How to use both FAQs and knowledge base for optimal results

Businesses should aim at strategically utilizing both FAQs and knowledge bases to empower users, reduce support tickets, and augment overall customer satisfaction figures.  

Here are some valuable tips and tools to maximize their effectiveness:

  • Leverage analytics and feedback: Utilize analytics and customer feedback to identify some of the most common and critical questions related to your product or service. Regularly update the content based on customer interactions and emerging trends. This ensures that the information remains relevant and meets the evolving needs of users.

  • Interactive customer service: Implement chatbots and live chat to provide instant, interactive responses. Integrate these tools with your FAQs and knowledge base, allowing users to transition seamlessly between automated assistance and more detailed self-service resources.

  • Utilize outreach campaigns: Leverage email and social media to engage with customers. Share informative content from your FAQs and knowledge base through these channels, directing users to valuable resources and fostering a proactive approach to self-service.

  • Multimedia content: Enhance the user experience with videos and podcasts. Create engaging and informative multimedia content that complements your FAQs and knowledge base. Embed these assets to give users a more dynamic and visually appealing way to consume information.

  • Personalized pathways: When FAQs or knowledge bases don’t cover a customer's question, direct them to your support team for more personalized assistance. Conversely, when a customer’s question can easily be answered with existing resources, guide them to the relevant articles or other resources to promote independence and self-service.

  • Harness automation and AI: Use AI-powered tools and automated workflows to optimize, personalize, and update FAQs and knowledge base content efficiently. Natural language processing helps match customer queries with relevant articles, enhancing search accuracy.

  • Cross-referencing content: Strategically cross-reference content in both FAQ pages and knowledge bases. For example, within an FAQ answer, provide links to related knowledge base articles for users seeking deeper insights. Creating this type of embedded correspondence and dialogue between your self-service tools helps users familiarize themselves with all your available resources and allows for seamless transitions between them. 

By incorporating these tips and tools, businesses can not only enhance the self-service experience for users but also adapt and respond to customer needs in real time.

Take self-service to the next level with Intercom Knowledge Base

In 2023, customers are demanding consistently prompt responses to their queries. If you want to maintain your customer base and the market share that comes with it, your business must be prepared to cater to them. With Intercom's knowledge base, you can deliver exceptional customer experiences that address these growing expectations. Our customer self-service solution allows you to:

  • Create unique help content and serve it to different audiences.

  • Deliver support across all mediums – including websites, mobile apps, and in-product messages.

  • Produce multilingual content at scale.

  • Leverage our simple editor to add images, videos, CTAs, and interactive guides.

  • Customize your knowledge base to reflect your brand values.

  • Utilize built-in feedback loops to optimize content continuously.

  • Gather customer feedback.

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


1. Intercom, Customer Service Trends Report 2024.