6 Mar 2023

9 Reasons why your Knowledge base is failing

9 Reasons why your Knowledge base is failing

Learn why knowledge bases fail and get actionable tips for how to address each of them.

Have you ever tried to measure the success of your organization's knowledge base? While many companies invest significant time and resources into building out their knowledge management systems, they often neglect to track and measure their effectiveness. Without a clear understanding of how well your knowledge base is working for your customers, it's difficult to identify areas for improvement and ensure that you're providing your customers with the information they need to use your product effectively.

In this blog post, we'll explore 9 common reasons why knowledge bases fail and provide actionable tips for how to address each of them. So whether you're a customer support professional or simply interested in optimizing your company's knowledge sharing practices, read on to discover how you can improve the effectiveness of your knowledge management system.

Review your Goals

Effective goal setting is critical to any project or initiative, including setting up a knowledge base. Without clear goals, measuring success and determining whether the knowledge base is meeting its intended purpose can be difficult.

When setting up a knowledge base, it's essential to define specific and measurable goals that align with the intended audience's needs. For example, if the goal of the knowledge base is to streamline customer onboarding, the content should be tailored to address common customer queries in getting started and other pain points during the onboarding process.

Once the goals have been established, it becomes easier to evaluate the effectiveness of the knowledge base and make necessary adjustments to improve its performance. Setting clear and specific goals for the knowledge base can become a powerful tool for providing relevant and valuable information to its users.

High Churn rate

Churn rate is a critical metric for SaaS companies that measures the percentage of customers who cancel their subscriptions or stop using the service during a given period. In simple terms, it represents the number of customers who are lost over a specific time period. A high churn rate is a strong indicator for a failing knowledge base. Below are the reasons how an ineffective knowledge base can contribute to the high churn rate:

Incomplete knowledge base

An incomplete product knowledge base that fails to cover critical aspects or features required to onboard new customers or provide advanced assistance to existing ones is deemed inadequate. In such cases, users are unable to access necessary resources to understand the product, leading to frustration and potentially causing them to leave the service.

Complex knowledge base

A convoluted knowledge base that has all the required information but is inaccessible or incomprehensible to users is another potential cause of high churn rates. The various contributing factors and its resolutions are as below:

  • The help articles are overly verbose and use complex language, making it difficult for users to understand the content. Incorporating annotated screenshots and brief how-to videos can greatly enhance the clarity of the knowledge base.

  • In cases where the knowledge base is extensive, integrating a search function can facilitate easy navigation for users.

  • Outdated or inconsistent information is yet another problem that may arise when there is a lag in updating the knowledge base content to align with product updates.

Poor user experience

In the event that the knowledge base is not user-friendly, users may face difficulties in locating and navigating to the desired information. It is crucial to ensure that the knowledge base is well-organized with clear categories, and the content is optimized for fast loading speed to prevent sluggish and unresponsive performance.

Low customer adoption

Low customer adoption of a knowledge base can be a strong indication of its failure. Checking the knowledge base analytics can give a clear understanding of the customer adoption. If customers are not using the knowledge base to find answers to their questions or are still raising tickets for issues already covered in the knowledge base, it could be a red flag. 

When customers are not using the knowledge base, it could mean that they find the content difficult to understand, the search functionality is not working correctly, or the knowledge base is not easily accessible. In such cases, customers may raise tickets for issues that could be quickly resolved by referring to the knowledge base. This can lead to an increased workload for support agents and decreased customer satisfaction.

Moreover, suppose customers are raising tickets for issues already covered in the knowledge base. In that case, it could indicate that the content is not easily discoverable or the language used is too complex. In such cases, customers may be unable to find the information they seek or may misunderstand the content.

Not providing a multi-lingual knowledge base may also be one of the reasons of low customer adoption when it comes to products with a global user base.

Promoting your knowledge base through various channels and providing tutorials or webinars on how to use the knowledge base effectively can also encourage greater customer adoption and ultimately improve customer satisfaction.

Lack of understanding of the end-users needs

One of the key principles of problem-solving is understanding the end-users needs. It's not enough to simply create an impressive and user-friendly knowledge base. It becomes meaningless if the information provided doesn't address the users' questions or pain points. Therefore, to build an effective knowledge base, it's crucial to have a thorough understanding of the end users. This requires empathy and the ability to see things from their perspective. By putting ourselves in their shoes and identifying their challenges, we can create a knowledge base that offers practical solutions and helps them overcome their obstacles.

To address the lack of understanding of end-users needs in creating a knowledge base, conduct user research and develop user personas. This will help you create relevant and helpful content that addresses the users' pain points. By understanding the needs of the end-users, you can create a knowledge base tailored to their specific needs and provides them with the information they need to overcome their challenges.


Having a goal and understanding end-users needs is a great start, but it's not enough to ensure the success of your knowledge base. One major reason why you may not be seeing a significant change could be that your knowledge base is difficult to find. If your users can't easily locate your knowledge base, then it's not serving its primary purpose of helping them. To succeed with your knowledge base, it's essential to make it easily accessible and readily available to users when and where they need it. A good knowledge base that brings success can be found and utilized by users to solve their problems efficiently.

One solution to make your knowledge base easily accessible to users is by adding a widget to your website or application to provide in-app help. This makes it seamless for users to access the knowledge base without leaving the website or application.

Poor structure of knowledge base

The poor structure of a knowledge base can also contribute to its failure. A knowledge base that is poorly structured or organized can make it difficult for users to find the information they need. This can lead to frustration and discourage users from using the knowledge base altogether. Suppose the information in the knowledge base is not categorized or labeled appropriately. In that case, users may have difficulty navigating through the content and finding the information relevant to their needs. This can be especially problematic if the knowledge base is large or covers many topics.

To avoid this, it's essential to invest time and effort into designing an intuitive and easy-to-navigate structure. This can include using clear headings, subheadings, and tags to help users quickly locate relevant information. By organizing your knowledge base in a clear and logical way, you can improve the user experience and increase the likelihood that users will find and use the information provided.

Outdated content

One of the significant reasons why a knowledge base fails to deliver its intended purpose is outdated or irrelevant content. In today's fast-paced digital world, technologies and products constantly evolve, which means that the content created yesterday explaining a particular feature may not be relevant or accurate today.

Outdated or irrelevant content can be frustrating for users, especially when they are trying to understand a product feature and are shown steps in an older version or UI. It can lead to confusion, wasted time, and a poor user experience.

To avoid this problem, it's essential to regularly review and update the content in your knowledge base. This means that you need to keep track of changes in your product or service and ensure that your knowledge base is updated with the latest information.

One way to ensure that your content remains relevant is to involve your team in the process of maintaining your knowledge base.

Encourage your team to provide feedback and update the content as necessary. This will help to keep the content fresh and relevant and also improve collaboration within the team.

Also, updating outdated or irrelevant video content in a knowledge base can be a challenge for organizations, particularly those who rely heavily on videos as part of their knowledge base. Updating videos may require creating new videos from scratch, taking down old videos, and publishing new ones, which can be time-consuming.

However, updating videos becomes much easier by using a tool like WowTo to build and maintain your video knowledge base. WowTo allows you to open the published video in the editor, make the desired changes, and publish it again without taking down the old video or creating a new one from scratch.

Inability to scale

As businesses grow, they expand their product and service offerings, and their team grows in size. It's essential to remember that your knowledge base should be able to grow with your business, both in terms of its scope and functionality.

If your knowledge base is not designed to scale, it can quickly become outdated and ineffective. You may struggle to add new content, manage user access, or maintain the quality of your existing content. This can lead to frustration for both your team and your customers, who may be unable to find the information they need.

Choosing a knowledge base platform designed to scale your business is essential to avoid this problem. Look for a platform offering easy content creation, flexible user access controls, and robust search capabilities. These features will allow you to easily add new content, manage user access, and maintain the quality of your knowledge base as your business grows.

Blind Spot

Analytics is a crucial component of any thriving knowledge base, yet it's often overlooked. Without analytics, it's impossible to know how your knowledge base is performing, who is using it, and what content resonates with your users. This lack of insights can contribute to the failure of your knowledge base in several ways.

Without analytics, you have no way of measuring the success of your knowledge base. You may have a wealth of content, but it's essentially useless if it's not resonating with your users.

  • Analytics can help you track metrics like page views, bounce rates, and time on page, giving you a clear picture of how your content is performing.

  • Provide valuable insights into your users' behavior. By tracking things like the most popular search terms, you can better understand what your users are looking for and adjust your content accordingly.

  • You can also track which articles are being shared the most, which can help you identify content resonating with your users and create more of it.

  • Analytics can also provide insights into your users' geographical locations. This information can be particularly valuable for companies with a global presence, as it can help you identify areas where your knowledge base may fall short and adjust your content accordingly.

Get started with improving your knowledge base!

A failing knowledge base can be attributed to all the various factors mentioned above. Therefore, it's essential to regularly evaluate the knowledge base's performance, gather user feedback, and make necessary improvements to provide the end-users with relevant and helpful information that meets their needs.

By understanding the common pitfalls that can hinder your knowledge base's performance and implementing the solutions we've outlined, you can take the first step in building a successful knowledge base that benefits both your users and your business. Remember, a great knowledge base is an investment in your company's success! Investing time and resources in improving the knowledge base can streamline operations, improve customer satisfaction, reduce support costs, increase employee productivity and can have a positive impact on the overall success of a business.

Ready to build a knowledge base that takes all this into consideration and more? Sign up for WowTo for free and see how WowTo makes the whole process easy for your teams as well as users.


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