A knowledge base is only as good as the information it contains. I think incorrect, out-of-date, and confusing articles are more common than most people would like to admit. Stay flush with your knowledge base currency by regularly reviewing existing articles. If you notice anything wrong with an article while you’re busy doing or looking for something else, flag it when you see it, so you can review it when you have time.
If you’re following KCS methodology, articles will be in draft—ready for review—before being published.
Just like any good writer has an editor, it’s good quality control to have a peer review your article for inconsistencies, anyway, before pushing the
self-destruct publish button.
If you’re having trouble keeping up a regular reviewing schedule, block out a time each day or week for dealing with flagged and draft items. Be consistent and it will become habit. Encourage staff by building into each person’s KPIs.
Here are some tips for what to look for, if you’re asked to review a team member’s knowledge base article.
1. Typos – In normal, written conversation, I’m not too precious about typos. If I can understand what they meant, then I’m cool. But typos and txt spk won’t fly in a knowledge base. Even if you understood what they meant, someone else might not. Check for spelling and errant punctuation that muddies the message.
2. Tone – Be nice when you’re on the record. Even more so when external customers will be accessing the article in the self-help. Check for snippy or condescending tone.
3. Clarity – A KB article needs to be understood in one reading. Ensure that you can understand the information. Are there enough steps? Has any jargon slipped in that some readers might not understand straight away? Expand on any acronyms. Are there any long, waffly sentences that you had to read more than once?
4. Searchability – The content might be great, but it’ll be useless if your readers can’t find it. How is the article categorised? If you think it’s in the wrong place, gather some opinions and arrive at a consensus, so everyone knows where to look when they need to. Make sure the tags are relevant and that all variants of the key words or phrases, (including acronyms), are supplied.
5. Rate it – Was this article helpful to you? Did it help you solve the problem? Give it a rating that reflects your feelings on that.
6. Feedback – Be kind and constructive with your feedback by leaving a comment explaining the bits that are unclear or need work. In the case of a few minor typos, I would just fix them and move on. With anything else it’s better for the author if they get the chance to work out the kinks for themselves so they know for next time around.
7. Praise – Give praise when it’s deserved. Regular pats on the head are crucial for keeping knowledge creation happening. If people lose faith in their ability to provide it, they’ll lose interest in participating.
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