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In this blog post, Garth Pedersen, Head of Consulting at Huble Digital, looks at why the user manual has been replaced by companies building "knowledge base" libraries of content for their customers. 

Should you read the instructions?

I am now a proud father. 

But before you congratulate me or offer me parenting advice; I am actually the proud new father (owner) of a (semi) new mirrorless camera. The reason I say a father is because everyone in the photography game knows that the amount of money photography consumes is astronomical (and probably equivalent to that of a child's college tuition for 4 years).  

Now, unlike babies, cameras come with a user manual in the box. The camera I bought came with a 715 multi-language brochure. 

So obviously the first thing I did was toss the manual aside and pull the camera out the box. Aaaah, that new camera smell. 

Let’s face it, even if a baby came with a user manual would you read it? I hear you all saying “of course we would, it is a baby, not a camera”, but I would challenge you on that. 


Why do users not read user manuals? 

So, preface for legal reasons, most user guides are there to safeguard negligence, hence I do not think we will see the death of it. 

However, our buying habits have changed. By the time I forked over my deposit (new house money) on a camera, I had done hours of research: I’d looked at YouTube tutorials, reviews, knowledge hubs, and forums alike before making a decision.

And this led me to what is an increasingly obvious truth:

The user manual is only for users post-purchase

As mentioned, the user manual is only for when someone has purchased a product. 

But what if I am comparing two brands side-by-side and I want to know things like return policies, warranty periods, or possibly where I can take the camera for repairs in the future? What if 2 years later my product starts giving me problems? 

In most instances, I’ll still turn to the web to find the answer – but it’s here where some brands are missing an opportunity.


Supporting service teams with the tools they need

Some brands make the mistake of assuming that their website is only for marketing and that the information on it should be brand and product-specific. As a result, they often neglect the biggest influencers of potential customers: their current customer base. Most of these users will – at some point – return to the website with some form of service query. 

Fortunately, the majority of brands today have some form of service desk and support team. These teams generally have various channels of communication (from tickets and live chat to emails and phone calls) and some even have a customer ticket portal where customers can log in to submit and see the status of their support ticket(s). 

More often than not, these support tickets are similar or at least have trends, i.e. refunds, returns, etc, so my question to you is this: why not invest in knowledge base software and create a knowledge base (like an online manual) that has answers to all the questions your prospects ask?


Fill your knowledge base with questions your customers are searching for

While common questions can potentially be answered with a short article or addressed by opening a ticket, many customers start with a direct service ticket. This is because chatbots (usually) don’t cater to common profiling questions or allow customers to find the information they need quickly and effectively. 

Find out how chatbots can improve the user experience here.

With this in mind, it is important to convert frequently asked support questions and tickets into help articles that become part of a robust, optimised knowledge base. This will help to speed up responses and scale service teams by allowing customers to self-serve. 

A pro tip from HubSpot: 

“Tap into search analytics to learn what customers are looking for and identify gaps in your knowledge base. Then use those insights to create missing content and evolve your knowledge base into a more comprehensive customer service resource — for both your customers and your team.” 

A good knowledge base is more than just good service

A knowledge base is a great way for customers to get help quickly and – by allowing them to solve their problems themselves –  can turn them into promoters of your brand. Knowledge base articles also provide great SEO value as the small FAQ-style articles can be indexed by search engines. You can even direct prospects to them when they have questions about your brand. 

Some tips for selecting knowledge base software

  1. It needs to be searchable 

  2. It needs to be laid out in a manner that allows topics to be found and consumed easily

  3. It needs to seamlessly integrate with your ticketing portal and chatbot. Don’t assume that users will find your knowledge hub on your website and navigate to it – sometimes they need direction

  4. It must be easy for your marketing, sales and service teams to manage. Everyone should be able to update information on the website through an easy-to-use management platform

  5. Data needs to be updated regularly with customer feedback for accuracy and a great user experience

Find out more about the importance of great customer service with our service-focused content here

Know your data and update regularly

You should use your knowledge hub data to:

  • identify your most-viewed articles

  • determine which articles are the most valuable to your customers

  • analyse just how much of an impact your articles are having  

And guess what?

HubSpot’s knowledge base software is ideal for this. 

HubSpot’s knowledge base software allows you to see usage data and customer feedback on your knowledge base articles, so you can use that information to improve your help documentation and delight customers. Check out how HubSpot delivers superior customer service and care by reading this blog.

Want to find out more about how this approach can better position your brand and website? Then reach out to us and one of our technology consultants will be in touch to discuss your brand’s service and knowledge hub software needs. They’ll also set up a live HubSpot demo so you can see what you’re missing out on. 

If you’re interested in seeing what HubSpot can do for your business, just click here to speak to one of our experts and book a demo.

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