How to build an effective help desk knowledge base (KB)

unorganized desk msp knowledge base

When it comes to a knowledge base (KB) platform, you will find that people belong to one of two groups.

When it comes to a knowledge base (KB) platform, you will find that people belong to one of two groups. The first group includes those that believe it’s critical to get the right platform for your documentation to sit, comparing it to which bank account has the highest interest rates for your savings. The second group is quite different and is fine with storing their data in something as simple as Excel, SharePoint, One Notes, or maybe a Wikipedia of some sort. So, which group do you fall in? Does the platform you use give you that much of a kick? 

From speaking to MSPs many times, we know that there is the likelihood that MSPs don’t even really use a Knowledge Base; rather, they let their team go and do what they feel is right to resolve the issue, often resorting to using Google for the answer. So do we even need a KB platform? Who would even write the data that goes in there?

First, we need to start with the question of, what is knowledge, and in comparison, what is information? I will start with information because that’s pretty simple. It’s what we obtain from any data source. Google, for instance, is a perfect spot to get information on what we need to do. Is it knowledge? Not yet. Knowledge is intrinsic information about something, such as the customer’s application of the information you got from Google. There is a big difference between the two. You can Google information,  but you cannot Google knowledge. Knowledge is what makes your MSP what it is today. it is what allows you to onboard a new staff member and get them up and running in a short period of time. That staff member would come on board with a lot of information on how to do things and have knowledge around previous customers.

Knowledge is what keeps your MSPs customers coming back and not thinking about price matching with another MSP. Just think about your accountant. Many of us would not consider changing our accountant, as it would be extremely hard. We don’t look around for someone cheaper because the knowledge our accountant has about our organization would mean we are going 10 steps backward by changing an accountant.

So is documentation the same? It can be. Some MSPs document a lot of intrinsic information about their customers so that other team members are able to step in and work on the customer – being productive from the start. Others don’t and that information is kept in people’s heads, which leads to bottlenecks.

Whenever we hear that knowledge isn’t documented, we cringe at the thought. If you have ever lost a senior tech – or maybe just a level 1 tech that’s been with you for a long time – what was your first thought? What knowledge does he have about what we do that I don’t? Can I pay them more to stay? And in many cases, MSPs do pay someone extra to keep them, but this is not a good sign of a mature MSP. Understanding your weakness, it’s also setting a precedent for others on the team to ask for a pay rise.

Building an Effective Knowledge Base for Your MSP

So how do you actually build an effective Knowledge Base for your MSP? The answer lies within. Here’s why. 

You may have heard the saying ‘everyone is different,’ and in a lot of ways, we are. In many ways, we are not.  Using a DISC profile, you can identify each person as being one of four primary profiles: D for Dominant, I for Influential, S for Steady, and C for Compliant. So many entrepreneurs are a D, and a D is a driven visionary who is up for the challenge and does things on the run. On the other hand, a C is someone like your accountant or a business analyst. They like attention to detail and everything needs to be planned out before they start. In many cases, the S profile happens to be our MSP technicians. They are neither driven by results nor follow the rule book because they go with the flow.

With this in mind: are your technicians the right people to write a KB article or document? The answer is, not really. They are good at capturing the information, and they have a lot of that in their head, but don’t expect to get the best documents written out and put into your KB platform by them. The attention to detail, the assumptions, and the accuracy will leave others floundering while reading it. We need to add that an S profile does not like to write up any documentation in the first place, so that might be the reason why, as a MSP owner, you are constantly avoiding getting documentation written up.

Looking around, some organizations and KB platforms for MSPs include gamification as a way to try and entice the team to document. Although we are not against gamification, we don’t believe you are going to get the best out of anyone when they’re doing something they don’t enjoy or aren’t good at. 

Don’t add building a Knowledge Base for your MSP to the ‘too hard basket’. Just remember, if you hold all of the knowledge for your business in your head, it’s worth nothing without you. With ServiceTree CONNECT™, our knowledge base is housed within each ticket, not only giving your Tech the information they need to service a ticket, but saving them time from having to find it themselves. ServiceTree CONNECT™ currently integrates with ConnectWise and Autotask to maximize your PSA. Book a demo today to see all that our PSA plugin has to offer. 

If you’re interested in learning about the why behind ServiceTree CONNECT™, and how we can help you put People at the center of your MSP, reach out to schedule a demo today! 

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