Knowledge base software

Get ready to create, organise, and share knowledge-base articles and content easily with customer support agents, select customers or the public—and measure what performs best.

A guide to the best knowledge base software

Knowledge base software is increasingly vital to the modern customer service team’s ability to deliver excellent service. But no two teams are exactly alike.

And what makes one system the best knowledge base software for one team doesn’t always translate for others. So the onus is on you and your team to decide which tools are the best fit for your customers and business.

To help you with that, we’ll start with the basics of knowledge bases: what they are and how to create one as well as their top benefits and essential features. Then we’ll overview 13 of the best available knowledge base systems.

To wrap up, we’ll walk through how to think about choosing the ideal knowledge base software for your organization.

Feel free to skip around by clicking through the table of contents below:

What is a knowledge base?

A knowledge base is a searchable directory of content about your products or services and how they are used. Knowledge bases include content, in various formats, that answers common customer questions and helps customers troubleshoot problems. Many teams also use knowledge bases internally to help employees find the information they need quickly.

What is the purpose of knowledge base software?

The purpose of knowledge base software is to provide information that will enable your customers to have a better experience using your software or product. Knowledge base software also makes agents more efficient by providing customers with self-service options for simple tasks.

How does knowledge management software work?

The most basic knowledge management software works by helping you organize your institutional knowledge and put it to work as useful content in a searchable database. More advanced systems take it a step further using automation and machine learning to automatically offer relevant articles from the database in response to customer inquiries.

Typically, knowledge management software is configurable so your database is private, public, or a bit of both. Private databases are only accessible by logged-in users. Public ones are accessible by anyone via search engines. And a database that’s both public and private would have some content only available to logged-in users and some content available to everyone.

How do you create a knowledge base?

The size of your team, the type of your business, and whether you’re creating internal or public-facing content affect how you create a knowledge base.

That said, having helped thousands of Zendesk users create their knowledge bases, we have a few best practices you can follow:

Assign ownership of the knowledge base

Whether their sole job is managing the knowledge base or they wear many hats, you need one person to take the lead on the KB. This person’s job is to be the contact for the team and oversee content creation. The KB owner should also regularly monitor and check the list of issues that need KB documentation.

This helps ensure that new content is created promptly and that existing content is up-to-date. In Zendesk’s knowledge base, KB owners can use views to get a snapshot of KB issues. They can then prioritize, schedule, and assign content accordingly.

Having a KB owner is also a great way to make sure that your content is consistent and thorough.

Establish a process for identifying knowledge base issues

Since support agents deal with customer issues firsthand, they’re an invaluable source of insight into what should go in the knowledge base system. So it’s key to create a process for agents to flag issues that require new or updated documentation.

At Zendesk, our Support team uses a specific tag to flag tickets with issues for the KB.

If you choose to implement this kind of workflow, remind your agents to search the existing documentation to avoid creating multiple versions of the same issue. When there is existing content, the agent should check to see if it needs updates or improvements, and flag it if so.

After a while, this will become a standard support process, and agents will identify content needs naturally and according to demand.

Designate writers for your KB

Creating KB content has to be a priority, and part of the regular responsibilities for specific people or a group. But if you don't designate writers for your knowledge base, no one will write.

Who you designate depends on the nature of the content in your knowledge base and your available resources. Some teams hire dedicated technical writers to create their content while others designate members of the support team. Other teams might have subject matter experts or even support agents as their writers.

Whoever you choose, they don’t have to have "writer" in their titles. But regularly updating the knowledge base should be part of someone’s regular job duties.

Establish editorial standards and processes

Regardless of who is creating the content, knowledge base articles must be clear, concise, and consistent. But consistently clear and concise content doesn’t happen without a solid editorial process. So you’ll need a set of editorial standards and processes to ensure your content meets certain quality requirements.

Here are a few best practices to incorporate into your processes:

  • Develop a template for your articles with designated sections to fill in, so that authors include the right information.
  • Link-related articles to show relationships and help users find all the information they need to solve their problems.
  • Define terms and jargon, or point users to a glossary that defines key terms for your product or business.
  • Schedule an SME(s) to review articles for accuracy and thoroughness.

What are the benefits of knowledge management software?

Consolidating your institutional knowledge in a single database accessible from anywhere on the internet is a major competitive advantage.

Here are four of the top benefits that—when used well—knowledge base systems provide:

Enhances customer experience

The 2020 Zendesk Customer Experience Trends Report confirmed that customers value self-service as essential to a good customer experience. While this isn’t particularly surprising, since we’ve known that customers prefer to self-serve for simpler tasks, such as changing their password, it does indicate what customers want. And in this way, through self-service, knowledge management systems directly improve the customer experience.

Improves agent efficiency

With a well-organized knowledge base, agents can quickly find resources relevant to their customers’ problems. And, when integrated with chatbots, knowledge bases can answer questions automatically, reducing the time agents need to spend on simple, repetitive issues. Plus, knowledge bases provide additional context that allows agents to better assist customers one on one. In short, knowledge management software makes customer support agents more productive.

Breaks down internal silos

Think of every time you contacted someone within your company for information. Now think about how much easier it would be if you could find that info yourself. Not only does a self-service option save you time, it also saves your colleagues time. This is what an internal knowledge management system provides because it surfaces information throughout the organization, across teams and geographies.

Always time for information

Since a knowledge base is always on, you can provide your customers, users, or employees with the information they want, when and where they want it. This enables your users to get help and support from your company even during holidays and off-hours. And assuming your system includes access rules, you can decide which users can access information in your knowledge base.

What are the essential features of a knowledge base software?

The basic function of knowledge base software is to make it easy for support teams to create and share useful content with their customers. As simple as that sounds, there are several essential features involved in this basic function.

To help you compare different tools, here are five critical features of knowledge base software:

Search engine

While it’s important to curate well-structured categories of information in your knowledge base software, most people won’t use your categories. Instead, they’ll use your search bar. If yours isn’t intuitive or doesn’t surface the information your customer needs, they’re more likely to leave or submit an unnecessary support ticket.

Feedback and analytics

The best knowledge base software doesn’t just help your customers learn about your product or service. Through feedback mechanisms and content analytics, knowledge base systems also help your support agents and managers learn about how your customers use your product. If your software doesn’t have built-in analytics or feedback, check to see if it integrates with apps that provide those features. Without feedback and analytics, you’ll lose the chance to improve your knowledge base content and your customer service, over time.

Content management

Content management features are the ones your writers, editors, and administrators use to create, revise, schedule, and publish content to your knowledge base. Because so many different people rely on these features to create knowledge base content, your software’s content management must be intuitive. After all, the easier it is to create, update, and manage content, the more likely it is that your team will actively manage your KB content.

Artificial intelligence and machine learning

Knowledge base software solutions equipped with machine learning get smarter with time, improving the quality of the automatic responses served up with AI. Other technologies streamline the maintenance and upkeep of the knowledge base, prompting contributors to update articles, fill knowledge gaps, or verify content’s accuracy and relevance.

How these technologies continue to enhance KBs remains to be seen. What’s certain is that AI and machine learning are essential technologies for modern knowledge base tools.

Self-service portal

Changing a password or printing a return label shouldn’t require one-on-one support. But without a self-service portal, your agents will be forced to field questions and deal with issues that could’ve been easily resolved by the customer on their own. So if you opt for a knowledge base system without a self-service portal, keep in mind that you’ll lose out on many of the time-saving, service-enhancing benefits of self-service.

Types of knowledge management software

As it relates to customer service, there are three types of knowledge management systems: knowledge bases, community forums, and AI-powered bots. Though it’s not always the case, modern knowledge management software often offers a combination of one or more of these systems.

Knowledge base

A knowledge base like Zendesk's organizes a variety of information, such as FAQs, product details, policies, and more, and provides that information in a centralized, searchable database.

When combined with AI-powered bots, knowledge bases become even more powerful because the bots help serve up relevant articles to customers’ queries. This helps the knowledge base do even more heavy lifting because bots help customers solve their own problems.

Community forum

A community forum is a kind of knowledge management system that creates a space for customers to interact and support each other. If you’ve ever used a popular forum like Reddit or Stack Overflow, you’re already familiar with the format of this system. Customers create threads by posting questions and other customers and moderators respond with solutions to the problems.

Community forums also double as a great place for businesses to glean organic customer feedback or identify new issues for their knowledge base. In this way forums and knowledge bases can work together to help customers self-serve.

AI-powered bots

AI-powered bots like Zendesk's Answer Bot enable support teams to distribute their knowledge base content in more context-relevant ways. For example, you could set up an AI-powered chatbot on your pricing page that provides options for customers to dig into the knowledge base for more details about your pricing policies. And, as mentioned above, AI-powered bots make knowledge bases even more useful by automatically pulling in articles that are most relevant to a customer’s question.

Top 13 knowledge base software for 2021

  1. Zendesk
  2. Wix Answers
  3. Intellum Platform
  4. Bloomfire
  5. USU Knowledge Center
  6. Guru
  7. Stack Overflow for Teams
  1. Zoho Desk
  2. Document 360
  3. Notion
  4. MangoApps
  5. HappyFox
  6. Slab

1. Zendesk

Zendesk offers knowledge management software that is simple to customize and use - as either an internal knowledge base, an IT knowledge base, a support agent-only knowledge base, or a customer-facing FAQ tool. And because it’s always available, customers and support agents can use the self-service portal to find the right information whenever they need it.

Zendesk offers a lean, confident content solution

Build out your knowledge base without sweating the details. Drafts save if you’re in the middle of a work in progress, rich formatting makes articles easy to read, and you can use pre-made templates to maintain content structure. And if you’re building an internal knowledge base, content can easily be restricted to just certain groups.

Zendesk knowlegde base software

Know how your knowledge base changes

Understand how your knowledge base content evolves over time. Get a list of events, so you can always be up to date with the latest changes, preserving the integrity of your content.

knowledge base content

Speak the customer’s language

Zendesk makes knowledge management software that’s simple to use and accessible for everyone. And the freedom to translate your articles into over 40 different languages provides a localized experience that’s right for each customer.

knowledge management software

Measure and improve customer support

Know what users are looking for and whether they're finding the right answers with built-in reports. Zendesk’s knowledge base software provides insights to expose gaps in content and helps identify areas where you need to create new KB content.

Zendesk knowledge base software

Features

  • Customizable branding
  • Categorization
  • SEO
  • Content management
  • Full text search
  • Self-service portal
  • Customer feedback
  • Analytics
  • AI and ML-enabled bots and search
  • Community forums

2. Wix Answers

Wix Answers

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Before Wix Answers, there was (and still is) a product named Wix which was designed to enable small businesses without technical resources to build a website. Wix Answers is based on a similar value proposition; to provide intuitive knowledge base software for small to medium-sized businesses. Wix Answers is completely cloud-based and provides two different subscription plans.

Their knowledge base software is available for $19 per user per month. And for an additional $11 per user per month, Wix Answers also provides Call Center, Live Chat, and Ticketing System features.

Features

  • Custom branding
  • Categorization
  • Knowledge content management
  • SEO
  • Built-in-search
  • Self-service portal
  • Customer surveys
  • Reporting
  • Discussion forums

3. Intellum Platform

Wix Answers

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If you’re looking for knowledge management software and need to educate at least 10,000 employees, partners, or customers, Intellum Platform is worth consideration. While it includes knowledge base software, the Intellum Platform is technically a learning management system. This means it helps companies host and facilitate educational courses, training programs, or learning and development programs.

The system is designed for various industries including Technology, Manufacturing, Financial Services, Retail, and Healthcare. To get pricing for Intellum, you’ll need to talk to a sales rep to get a customized quote.

Features

  • Categorization
  • Content authoring tools
  • Real-time collaboration tools
  • Design customization
  • Full text search
  • Self-service portal
  • Customer feedback
  • Analytics

4. Bloomfire

Bloomfire knowledge base

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Bloomfire centralizes company knowledge in a single, searchable platform, helping support agents consistently deliver high-quality, contextually relevant service. Bloomfire features several appealing capabilities such as AI-powered search, crowd-sourced FAQs, and rich media compatibility.

The platform also mimics social media by allowing users to interact with posts by liking, sharing, commenting on, or following them. Bloomfire pricing starts at $15 per user per month for up to 50 users. You can access more affordable per user rates if you have more than 50 users.

Features

  • Customizable branding
  • Auto-tagging content
  • Content management
  • Full text search
  • Self-service portal
  • Customer feedback
  • Usage and content reporting
  • Zendesk integration
  • API Access
  • AI-enabled search

Learn more about Zendesk app for Bloomfire

5. USU Knowledge Center

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USU Knowledge Center is cloud-based knowledge management software. The software provides a standard editing tool and supports decision tree documents as well as basic long-form articles. Knowledge Center has a powerful search feature as well as collaboration tools that help agents escalate issues. It also helps facilitate a consistent editorial process with custom workflow approvals for content creation, updates, and removal.

Knowledge Center integrates with SAP, Microsoft Dynamics, Zendesk, and Salesforce. If you’d like pricing for Knowledge Center, you’ll need to contact the vendor directly for a custom quote.

Features

  • Customizable branding
  • Categorization
  • Knowledge content management
  • Full text search
  • Self-service portal
  • Usage tracking and analytics
  • Discussion forums
  • Voicebots
  • Chatbots

6. Guru

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Similar to other tools, Guru’s knowledge management system enables your team to create, share, access, and update information. But what sets Guru apart is that it fits within your team’s existing workflow by unifying contextually relevant, verified information with the tools you’re already using, such as Teams, email, Slack, and your CRM.

Also, since Guru uses AI to surface contextually relevant knowledge, suggestions improve over time based on individual and organization-wide patterns. And while Guru is designed for use as an internal knowledge base, you can use their API to publish content externally. Prices for Guru range from $5 to $20 per user per month.

Features

  • Categorization
  • Content management
  • Built-in text search
  • ML-enabled bots
  • Community forums

Learn more about Zendesk app for Guru

7. Stack Overflow for Teams

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Its answer ranking system, trusted brand, intuitive interface, and huge community has made Stack Overflow a household name for developers. But Stack Overflow for Teams is taking their brand a step further by offering Stack’s signature question and answer interface for private use.

Stack Overflow for Teams integrates with Jira, GitHub, and Microsoft teams as well as Slack and Okta. The Business plan offers content grouping, analytics, and long-form knowledge articles for $12 per user per month.

Features

  • Cataloging and categorization
  • Knowledge base management
  • Document management
  • Remote support
  • Self-service portal
  • Community forums

8. Zoho Desk

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In addition to providing a knowledge base, Zoho Desk also includes a ticketing system and helpdesk solutions. But even on its own, Zoho Desk’s knowledge base is a solid option. The system is easy to use for writers and editors, providing separate categories for how-to articles, FAQs and more.

Zoho Desk’s knowledge base is also flexible; users can set up portals for different customers (internal and external) and use whatever logo or branding they need. Pricing for Zoho Desk starts at $18 per user, per month.

Features

  • Portal customization
  • Secure access
  • Content management
  • Text search
  • Ticket submissions
  • Customer feedback
  • Domain mapping
  • Advanced reporting
  • Chatbots
  • Forums and communities

Learn more about Zendesk app for Zoho Desk

9. Document 360

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Using Document 360, you can create self-service knowledge bases for your customers and private knowledge bases for your team. Its most powerful features include real-time search, version control, robust categorization, and a file manager. Document 360 also has a clean interface and seamless user experience.

Also, this knowledge base software includes a markdown editor which can simplify content creation. Pricing for Document 360 ranges from $49 to $299 per month. The most affordable plan includes two team accounts and one knowledge base and supports up to 10,000 page visits per month and 5GB of storage.

Features

  • Category manager
  • Markdown editor
  • Analytics
  • User feedback
  • SEO
  • Content management
  • Knowledge base search
  • Self-service portal
  • Community forums
  • Secure file management

Learn more about Zendesk app for Document 360

10. Notion

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You can use Notion as a database, notepad, project management tool, and/or a collaborative writing space. Because it’s so flexible, Notion is a great option for creating an internal knowledge base. And while it doesn’t have many of the built-in features specific to most customer-facing knowledge base systems, you can technically use Notion to create a self-service knowledge base.

All that said, Notion’s flexibility makes the learning curve fairly steep. It’ll be completely up to you to determine how your knowledge base is organized and labeled. Notion plans range in price from its basic, free version to $8 per team member per month.

Features

  • Categorization
  • Content management
  • Built-in search
  • Markdown editor

11. MangoApps

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Like Notion, MangoApps lends itself more easily to internal knowledge bases. The software is mainly designed to centralize employee workspaces so customer information is consistent and available when and wherever it’s needed. MangoApps also provides a feature called Libraries which allows companies to organize files, hyperlinks, and other resources into a digital index.

MangoApps’ design is similar to social media apps with threads, comments, and groups. And it provides a broad range of integrations and branding customizations. To get pricing for MangoApps, you’ll need to talk to one of their representatives for a custom quote.

Features

  • Brand customization
  • Categorization
  • Content management
  • Full text search
  • Self-service portal
  • Customer surveys
  • Customer forums

Learn more about Zendesk's integration with MangoApps

12. HappyFox

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HappyFox is a cloud-based CRM that provides knowledge management systems for many different industries. Their knowledge base provides a host of easy-to-use, powerful capabilities such as multi-brand user portals, feedback collection, and separate internal/external knowledge management systems.

Where HappyFox excels in features, it lags in price and integrations. There’s also no free option for you to get a feel for the software. And their price tiers range from $39 to $99 per user per month, so you will have to pay to try it. Still, as a mainstay in the customer service software industry, HappyFox is worth consideration.

Features

  • Knowledge base customization
  • Categorization
  • Rich text editor
  • External/internal search
  • Auto-suggest
  • Self-help portal
  • Customer feedback
  • Team collaboration tools
  • Analytics
  • Community forums

Learn more about Zendesk app for HappyFox

13. Slab

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Slab bills itself as “a knowledge hub for the modern workplace” designed to unite all the places your team stores information and turn it into a single source of knowledge. Slab features a simple editing interface, powerful search, and solid integrations with popular tools like Google Docs, Slack, and GitHub.

Slab does provide a free version and their paid plans range from $8 to $15 per user per month. If you’d like to try Slab, you can use their free version with up to 10 users, though there will be some feature limitations.

Features

  • Categorization
  • Content management
  • Usage analytics
  • Custom domains
  • Private and public topics
  • Full text search
  • Self-service portal

A summary of the best knowledge management software

Here’s how our top 13 picks for knowledge base software stack up against one another at a glance:

Knowledge Base Software

Categorization

Content Management

Full Text search

Self-service Portal

Zendesk

Wix Answers

Intellum Platform

Bloomfire

USU Knowledge Center

Guru

X
Stack Overflow for Teams

Zoho Desk

Document 360

Notion

X
MangoApps

X
HappyFox

Slab

X

How do you choose the right knowledge base software?

There’s a lot to think about when it comes to choosing the right knowledge base software. The best way to start is to think about the nature of the information you want to organize and the people who will use that information.

Knowledge base software is the tool you’ll use to collect, maintain, and serve the right information to the right person at the right time.

Once you’ve thought about that, consider the following before choosing your tool:

Flexibility and customization

Your team, customers, and existing tools are unique. And your knowledge base software is going to have to support that unique environment. If it’s not flexible, you’ll be forced to patch together and duplicate information in and outside your knowledge base.

Also, if your software isn’t sufficiently flexible, you won’t be able to use the apps, such as chatbots or CRMs, that make knowledge bases even more powerful. So look for knowledge base software that offers an API as well as native integrations to lots of popular tools.

Easy to find and share

Even if your knowledge base is as complete as it can be, its value depends on both agent’s and customer’s ability to find and share information quickly. This makes powerful search and thoughtful categorization features an especially important piece of providing better service and greater agent productivity.

But discovery alone isn’t enough. Knowledge base content also needs to be easy to share with customers and other agents. So look for knowledge management systems that combine discoverability and shareability, and you’ll be ahead of the game.

Seamless collaboration

Much of what makes an effective knowledge base is the ability for multiple employees to contribute. This creates a broader scope of learning for your knowledge base and it makes it easier to incorporate insights gained on the frontlines of customer service into your KB.

So make it a priority to find software that’s intuitive and easy to use for your team. If possible, start with a free trial so you can determine how readily your team will adopt the software. The more comfortable your employees are using the software, the more likely they’ll be willing to contribute.

Frequently asked questions on knowledge base software

Who can use knowledge management software?

Any individual or team who needs to use knowledge to help their customers achieve their tasks more effectively can use knowledge management software. For example, Google provides a knowledge base for their advertising products to help customers troubleshoot problems.

What can you upload on a knowledge base?

You can typically upload any audio, image, video, or text files on a knowledge base. The only caveat is that some knowledge base software vendors may restrict the size and type of the files you upload.

What software integrations might you need for your knowledge base?

At a minimum, you will likely need software integrations between your knowledge base and your CRM and ticketing system. If you’re currently using live chat, or plan to, you’ll also want to make sure your knowledge base integrates with live chat since referring to knowledge base articles in a chat can significantly improve customer interactions. Others you might need include analytics, messaging, and client portal integrations.

What elements should your knowledge base have?

Every knowledge base should have a system of organization and a text search bar. Beyond that, more specific elements of your knowledge base depend on what your knowledge base is about. For example, if you sell software, your knowledge base should include information that helps customers get started and troubleshoot problems.

How do you keep your knowledge base up to date?

To ensure you keep your knowledge base up to date, follow these three steps:

  1. Assign the responsibility of managing the knowledge base to someone.
  2. Designate writers for the knowledge base.
  3. Establish a process for identifying knowledge base issues.

Try knowledge base software for free

Zendesk is a smart knowledge base that helps you organize your institutional knowledge and put it to work as useful content in the format of a searchable database. Put simply, with Zendesk’s knowledge base, you can quickly create and tailor a help center to your specific needs.

And if you’re already using Zendesk’s ticketing system, you can seamlessly integrate the Zendesk knowledge to level up your customer service operation. So give Zendesk a try and start providing your customers with improved self-service and your agents with greater efficiency and faster resolution.