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Creating a successful knowledge base can be difficult. It takes willing Support Engineers to break away from the queue and give attention to creating knowledge base articles intended to help customers help themselves. To compound the matter, the engineer typically needs to take extra time to create professionally written articles with a consistent tone, and look and feel. Building a knowledge base that works for both the customer and the support engineers can be a challenge. How can Confluence help?

The benefits of creating a powerful knowledge base that proactively informs customers can dramatically shave the number of issues in your support queue and save your team hours of work. Confluence is a great knowledge base solution. It combines professional web publishing features with the ease-of-use and flexibility of a wiki; providing a low barrier to entry and high quality output for your team members.

In this post we’ll share 5 tips that helped the Atlassian Support Team build their proactive Knowledge Base, saving them hours of work and helping customers help themselves.

1. Standardize Articles with Templates

Make it easy for your support engineers to create professional articles with templates. You can choose whether individual templates are available for use across all Spaces, or only in the Space that they were created in. Templates can help ensure that your knowledge base is consistent, if not well written.

Here’s an example of the Atlassian Technical Support team’s KB template:

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2. Offer Subscriptions (RSS and E-mail)

We’ve found that a good approach to helping make your knowledge base be more ‘proactive’ is to give visitors as many opt-in options to technical alerts as possible. Sending technical alerts is a great way to keep customers and staff informed, and the first step to reduce your support load. Typically technical alerts might announce a bug fix release and known issues with a new major release.

Offering subscriptions to such alerts eliminates the need for some customers to create a support ticket, immediately cutting down on your team’s support load. So, how do you do that in Confluence? For each technical alert, publish a new blog post in your knowledge base Space. To improve discover-ability of these technical alerts, insert the Blog Posts Macro, within a panel, on the home page of your knowledge base. This will display the latest blog posts (technical alerts) on your home page and allow visitors to subscribe to new alerts via RSS,

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Once the macro is inserted and the page is saved, visitors will see the following:

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3. Content Survey and Reporting Plugin

Sure, it’s great to have a proactive Knowledge Base, but how can you tell if it’s helping anyone? You need to capture feedback from visitors to learn how effective your knowledge base articles are. It’s easy to capture this feedback with the free Content Survey and Reporting Plugin. It allows you to:

  • Gather direct feedback from customers about article quality
  • Generate amalgamated “composite score” results for each knowledge base article (Confluence page)
  • Ask secondary questions, such as “Was this artcile complete?” or “Was the article well-written?”.
  • View a Roll-up report of the metrics for the whole space

Add your custom survey to your knowledge base article template so that it’s automatically included to every new article created in your knowledge base.

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We include the survey above at the bottom of every article (Confluence page) in our knowledge base. Once the results begin accumulating, our support engineers can quickly see which articles are most helpful to customers, and which one’s need improvement by viewing the plugin’s results page:

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4. Organize Content Intuitively

While Confluence search provides an effective means for customers to find helpful articles, it helps to organize your content so that visitors can find what they’re looking for intuitively. The best way to do so is to tag all of your articles with labels that characterize the issue. Then you can create a page entitled, ‘Browse Articles by Label’, that includes the Labels List macro.

This macro displays a hyperlinked alphabetical index of all labels within the current space. As you create content in this space and apply appropriate labels, the macro will update the page automatically. Browsing by label let’s visitors browse by keyword and find the article they need fast.

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5. Embed JIRA Issues in Confluence

If you’re already using JIRA to track your technical support requests, you’re in luck. With the latest release of Confluence 3.5, you can connect Confluence to your JIRA instance and make available a host of new JIRA integration features. This makes it easy to connect your knowledge base articles to your support issues in JIRA. When you embed a JIRA issue in Confluence, you’ll see the issue Type, Key, Description, and Status. Embedded issues allow visitors to jump over to JIRA learn even more about the issue and its progress.

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Watch this video to learn how to embed JIRA issues in Confluence, create new issues from within the editor, and search for JIRA issues using JIRA Query Language (JQL):

Get Started Today

While it takes time and effort to create a knowledge base, Confluence has the features and flexibility to get your team started quickly.

Want an in-depth, step-by-step guide to creating a Knowledge Base using Confluence? See the guide here and watch Jeremy Largman’s presentation from this year’s Atlassian SummitConfluence as a knowledge base: Five tips for an awesome KB.

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