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Plan Your Knowledge Base

Learning Objectives

After completing this unit, you’ll be able to:
  • Identify the type of information in your knowledge base.
  • Identify a basic organization for your articles.
  • Identify which users need which permissions in your knowledge base.

Why Is Knowledge Base Planning Important?

Famous quotes on planning

On average, successful knowledge bases require four times as much planning time as implementing time.

For example, say you’re already using Service Cloud to knock the socks off your customers with rock star support. You’ve got agents with varying levels and areas of expertise. Your cases are structured so your agents know where they need to go next to close cases fast. Just the physical steps to integrate Knowledge into such an environment may take a week. So, plan to spend at least a month (four weeks) planning a smooth integration.

This unit describes what you should consider when implementing Knowledge but not how to implement knowledge. How you implement these features is covered in the help at Build Your Knowledge Base in Salesforce Classic.

What Kind of Information Does Your Knowledge Base Contain?

Look around your current support organization. Are your agents closing cases with answers to frequently asked questions or steps to common procedures? These types of information are called article types in Salesforce Knowledge. Lots of important features, like workflow and visibility, are set on the article type.

Here are some questions to ask when designing your article types.

Question Example Best Practice
What kind of information do you publish? Each different kind is an article type.
  • Frequently asked questions
  • Procedures
The fewer article types you have the better for knowledge base maintenance.
Do you have an existing knowledge base or documentation to import? You have files of information that you want to put in Salesforce Knowledge. Consolidate your existing information into as few article types as possible.
What are the important fields on your cases?
  • Subject
  • Product information
Make sure that you have corresponding fields on your article types. This ensures that the best articles are suggested as agents solve cases.
Do you need workflow or approval processes to manage article creation and publication? You can create a process that requires legal and management teams to approve articles containing sensitive information. Add an approval process to an article type to ensure that the required reviewers approve the article before it's published.
Where are you sharing your information? These places are called channels.
  • Internally
  • On a Salesforce Community or Site
  • Public website
  • Determine what information should be available on each channel. You can restrict individual fields, so the wrong eyes don’t see sensitive information.
How do you track article feedback and effectiveness?
  • 1–5 stars
  • Thumbs up/down
  • Number of attached cases
Create custom reports and review them periodically to keep your knowledge base accurate and up-to-date.

How Do You Organize Your Information?

Does your company separate your support center by products or geography or both? For example product groups could include phones, TVs, or computers and geographic groups could include Americas, Europe, or Asia. We call these data groups and data categories.

Categorizing your articles allows your agents and users to quickly find what they need and tap into the power that is your knowledge base. On top of data categories, Salesforce Knowledge provides many other tools to enhance your search experience including: synonyms, highlights and snippets, and promoted search terms.

Here are some questions to ask when categorizing your articles.

Question Example Best Practice
How do you categorize your information?
  • Products
  • Geography
Data groups contain data categories. The fewer groups you have the better.
Do you need to restrict information from some viewers? Your company's new taco vending machine isn't sold in Europe yet, so you hide all related articles from your European customers and agents. Set “data category visibility” on profiles for the categories you need to restrict.
Do you need to enhance searchability? Your knowledge base is vast but your agents and customers have difficulty finding the articles they need.
  • Identify synonyms for search terms, for example “linking” and “mapping”.
  • Have search results highlight the snippets of article text that match the search term.
  • Promote a specific article when a certain search term is used.

Who Needs to Do What with Your Knowledge Base?

The good news is that all your internal users can view knowledge articles. However, unless you want to write and manage every article (not recommended), you’ll want to let other agents create, edit, publish, archive, and delete articles too.

Consider an article’s life-cycle and determine which agents touch it when.

Stages of an articles lifecycle

For example, you want your novice agents to be able to create articles on issues they solve. However, before they publish to a wider audience, you want a more experienced agent to double-check facts before publishing. Same goes for updates and when an article needs to be archived or deleted.

Your agents have a mix of experience and expertise with your products and services. To keep them all straight, you need to assign permissions and article actions to your agents and other internal users according to their needs. Here are three example levels and some of the permissions they need to perform their jobs.

Here are some questions to ask when categorizing your articles.

User Description Permissions
Readers Relatively new to the company, so they must read as many articles as possible to get up-to-speed. Read Article Action
Contributors Advanced Knowledge users. They understand the standards for articles and can create and publish articles. Manage Article permission and Read, Create, and Edit Article Actions
Managers Beyond the capabilities of contributors, managers also know when articles need to retire or be deleted entirely. Manage Article permission and Read, Create, Edit, and Delete Article Actions

If you have more than one way to access the knowledge base (internally, via a Community, or a public website), you’ll also want to consider what information is available on each. As your agents and contributors write articles, they can identify where the article is published.

But what if an article includes sensitive information that’s only appropriate for internal employees and also provide general information that’s useful to your external customers? Easy, you can restrict certain article categories, perhaps sensitive legal articles, with user profiles and even apply field level security on just those sensitive fields so they do not appear in the publicly facing articles.

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