After recently completing one of many Salesforce Knowledge implementations, I thought it would be a good idea to compile a short guide for people interested in implementing this product for their clients or organisation.
Salesforce Knowledges gives you the ability to build out a comprehensive Knowledge Base (KB) inside of Salesforce to service your internal agents, partners and customers. If you have no idea what a KB is, it is simply a collection of articles with relevant information about your products and services (Here is Uber’s KB for example). KB’s are a common way to provide a self-service model for your customers to solve their own queries, which in turn helps with case deflection. This means hiring less service agents, and customers get the benefit of solving queries a lot faster than phoning up and waiting to ask a relatively simple question.
Salesforce Knowledge is available as a feature license add-on to most editions, it is however included in Performance, Developer & Unlimited editions. You will only need to buy licenses for the users that will be administering the application and creating articles, but not the users that need to view them, this is included in most Salesforce licenses.
Having Knowledge built and deployed out of Salesforce means that you can share relevant articles through 4 main channels, depending on where your customers are. It is important to note that for each article you publish, you can define which channels the article should be shared through. For example articles relevant to internal training, may not need to be shared on the external channels.
Internal – This channel allows your internal Salesforce users to access Knowledge from inside any App through the Knowledge Tab. This grants users the ability to search for relevant articles specific to any issue or query that they may be having. As you can see from the below screenshot you can see and filter various bits of information such as the category, sub category and status of the articles.
Partner – The Partner channel allows you to share articles via the Salesforce partner community. When exposing the Knowledge tab within a Partner community, you receive a very similar interface to the above. This allows you to expose partner related content such as Sales processes, Service advice and product content tailored for Partners.
Customer – The Customer channel allows you to expose articles via the Salesforce customer community. It is quite possibly one of the most popular reasons to start implementing the KB as this is where true case deflection techniques come into play. If you run a customer community which is mainly based around Service (E.g. submitting cases), then the Knowledge tab provides an extra element for customers to answer their own questions. You can even setup workflows so that before you even submit a case, relevant articles to your query will be displayed based on the title of the case. If you have ever submitted a case through Salesforce Support or other online services, you can probably relate to this.
Public Knowledge Base – The last channel you can expose the Knowledge Base through is publicly. For some B2C organisations this may be more applicable than using a Customer portal as it does not require a license or login. If you would like to see an example of what a public Salesforce KB looks like, check out a great example by Gumtree.
One of the most common ways to deploy a public KB is through the Salesforce AppExchange App, PKB3. This package allows you to deploy and fully customise your KB to match the styling, look and feel of your own website. Salesforce also fully supports masking the domain name so your customers can have a seamless experience such as the Gumtree example
As you can probably see, Salesforce Knowledge can easily become a very powerful tool to use for case deflection and helping your partners, customers and employees get the most out of the services or products you sell. As well as the channels mentioned above, Knowledge has a lot of other features to help your service reps solve cases faster and generally get the most out of the system. In this section, I briefly wanted to touch on a few additional features that Knowledge provides.
Knowledge One Widget – Recently brought out, the Knowledge One widget allows your Service reps to see suggested Knowledge articles while working on a case. It will automatically search for the most relevant articles based on keywords and rating. From the widget you can view the articles, attach them to cases, and best of all, send them out in PDF format to the customer! Some serious time saving can be had here..
Voting – Knowledge has the ability to allow voting on articles for your internal and community users. This can be configured to either accept a 5 star format, or thumbs up/down. This greatly improves the user experience for a couple of reasons. Salesforce uses voting, views, and a number of other factors to produce a “relevance” rating, helping order articles in search results. It also allows you to see what articles aren’t performing so well, if users and customers are voting a particular group of articles down, it might be time to revise them.
Approval Process – More on the article creation side of things (which I will go into my detail below), you can easily setup approval processes for your article creation. This uses the native Salesforce feature and allows you to create a set of rules and approvals an article must go through before being published. For example an article might have to go manager and then marketing approval before it can be made live to users.
Article Types – Article Types are a foundation of Salesforce Knowledge and are very relatable to Objects/Page Layouts. To build a knowledge article you need to select which fields you wish to have on the page, text, number, rich text etc. Article Types allow you to create different layouts to create different types of articles, for example a Question & Answer layout, How to Guide or a visual guide using rich text fields.
Data Categories – Data Categories are another feature that is a foundation of Salesforce Knowledge. Data Categories allow you to classify articles into different categories that best match how your business is split up. They have a hierarchical structure similar to that of Roles. This allows you to allocate articles to one of more categories that helps with searching, as well as profile visibility of certain groups of articles. For example if you have 3 regions, USA, Europe & Asia, you can ensure that USA users do not see the European articles.
Creating articles from cases – Another handy feature that benefits your Service reps and Knowledge agents, is the ability to create articles from cases. This feature allows Service reps to create an article in draft format that then passes over to your Knowledge agents to possibly create a new article out of. This is a great way to alert your Knowledge agents to a possible gap in the articles for a commonly asked query.
The Knowledge application as comprehensive and powerful as it is, has very little “bulk” that comes with it. There is simply a Knowledge tab that the end users can use to search for and view articles and an Article Management tab that gives the Knowledge admins the ability to create, edit and publish articles. I wanted to round off this post by talking about some of the features that are included for the administrators and users of this application.
The screenshot below gives you a flavour of what the article management tab looks like, and overall, it’s pretty simple. You have the ability to filter and sort posts by data category, validation status and whether they are draft, published or archived. You an create new articles, archive and edit existing ones.
Once you have actually created a draft article, you can assign it to a specific user, write instructions and choose a due date for the article to be completed by. From the screenshot below you can get a good idea of the kind of detail that an article can give you. One important aspect to note about the article creation layout is that all fields below the blue “Information” ribbon, are fields that you include during the article type creation, you can look at these as all custom fields. The fields above this line are standard fields included with the application.
Overall the Knowledge product is a great addition to the Salesforce suite of products. It’s fast to implement, has some pretty powerful native features and can be integrated into your own applications. All Knowledge implementations that I’ve completed have provided almost instant noticeable ROI by providing users with that self-service model.
Thanks for reading and please let me know if you have any comments or thoughts in the section below!