In future, customer knowledgebases could play a crucial role in cultivating robust and well-informed relationships between B2B businesses and their customers. They may increase customer retention and sales opportunities.

In this post, we discuss how to tailor content within these knowledgebases to address customers information needs. We begin by identifying customer needs. Next, we outline the content to include before considering the user interface.

Identifying Customer Needs

In an earlier post on the potential knowledgebases impact on B2B marketing, we discussed how a typical engineer searches for information. After gaining some initial insight into what needs further consideration, they will seek answers to some preliminary questions.

Traditionally, they would turn to the internet, but it is hopeless as a research tool. Instead, they need slick information stores (let’s call them knowledgebases) they can access.

What if suppliers provided access to these libraries of information on their products and services? Everything a customer might need in one, easy to interrogate, resource centre. Would that solve the customer’s problem?

What if these customisable knowledgebases could learn over time based on the questions (prompts) they receive? Would that make information retrieval more efficient and personalised? Of course, efficient access to information is useless unless it is useful and relevant.

Relevant Content

For the knowledgebase concept to succeed, its content must be extensive and relevant. The customer must be able to find everything in one place.

A vital first step is to conduct research to gain clear insights into customer needs and preferences. Up to date Information from the (internal and external) sales teams and historical records of typical questions asked are good starting points.

Collecting and analysing this information can be a painful and resource-intensive task, but without it, the entire exercise is likely to fail. Some of the new Deep Learning based analysis tools emerging in the marketplace could help.

As a starting point, it is worth considering only the top three accounts, perhaps one from each key market segment. What would be useful for them? What should be included and excluded? The information relevant to a few major accounts, is likely to be relevant to many.

Although the customer needs are the priority, it is also important to consider how the knowledge base can complement the efforts of account-based sales teams. It should be a resource for them as well as customers.

What objections do sales tend to face? What roadblocks to progress could the information in the knowledge base help resolve?

Marketing should consider what company information and promotional material to include. But, remember that the prime purpose of the knowledgebase is information delivery, not promotion.

Content To Include

Access to the knowledge base can be controlled (to a point), but it should not contain any commercially sensitive material.

Insights

Include research-based content. Share research, trends, and forecasts related to your industry that can help your customers stay ahead of the curve. Wherever possible, these should be unique content, or at least a different spin on what is already available.

Show that your business is considering the future and its implications. Address trends your customers may not have thought of. Cover shortcuts you know your competitors take with their product/service and the long-term problems they can cause.

Product

Content to add to the knowledgebase includes datasheets, user guides, and technical reports. Further enhance this by offering advanced product guides that cover unique features or uses of the product or service that may not be widely known.

Without giving away any trade secrets, cover manufacturing limitations and how these can affect the technology’s performance or long term reliability.

New product previews give your best customers a peek at new products or features before they’re released to the general market. This can make them feel valued and provide an opportunity for feedback.

Deliver educational material that encourages your customers to think about solutions rather than ‘me too’ type products.

Custom solution case studies can help. These should cover (with appropriate permissions) details of solutions developed for other customers. Try to demonstrate a capability to solve complex problems.

Training

Offer in-depth training materials and video tutorials. These resources can help customers better understand how to use your products and integrate them into their systems.

At a basic level training materials can be used to onboard new customers or new contacts within existing customers. This will ensure they receive the best possible initial experience.

FAQ Responses

These should cover everything from the most basic questions customers may ask, to more advanced topics.

Also include FAQs for advanced scenarios. Compile a list of frequently asked questions that address more complex or less common issues that customers might encounter.

The answer provided must be a complete response to the query. If the customer needs to make another attempt or, worse yet, seek assistance elsewhere for a solution, it undermines the potential advantage of the knowledge base.

Company Information

You want the knowledge base to include everything a customer might need regardless of their position in their organisation. You don’t want them clicking away to consult some other resource.

The knowledge base should include all the necessary company information. That may include company history, some basic (non-commercially sensitive) financial information, contact details and key staff details.

Consider contact information for dedicated support representatives or account managers who can provide personalised assistance. This ensures that your best customers always know how to get help quickly.

Also, Include information that reinforces the brand. This can include information on key customers & projects (with permission).

Although they should be promoted elsewhere, the knowledge base should include information on company events, workshops and webinars.

Sales Requirements

The primary purpose of the knowledge base is to increase customer retention. Its secondary purpose is to increase sales opportunities. Hence, the account-based sales team must understand the depth of information held in the knowledge base.

The sales team must have full access and be encouraged to interrogate the knowledge base with the types of questions their customers might ask. If the answer they receive is inadequate, they should give feedback.

Any feedback, wherever it may come from, should be acted upon by the knowledge base curators as a matter of urgency. If not, the knowledge base will soon fall out of use.

The Customer Interface

If the customer does not find the knowledgebase a joy to use, they will start to drift away. Content must be easily navigable.

The ideal interface might be something similar to Perplexity.ai, with a short (specific) answer to a question with links to more detail. Whatever form it takes must match customer needs. We will cover the knowledge base interface in more detail in future posts.

B2B customer knowledgebases can help nurture relationships and drive sales opportunities for existing customers. But, to create and maintain a knowledgebase takes significant time and effort. There are some hard questions to ask before committing those resources.

It is important to tailor content to meet the specific needs of customers. If there is insufficient information to answer the customer query, there is a chance they will interrogate some other resource and the knowledgebase will fall into disuse. Integration with sales efforts is crucial for success, as is sales and customer feedback.

There is a balance to be struck between the amount of access to information (improving personalisation) and content security. You may wish to allow your best customers more detail (without giving away confidential information), but you probably don’t want that information available to competitors. This issue we will address in a future post.

Read more in our Impact of AI on B2B sales guide.

 

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