Organizations looking to manage their online documentation or knowledge bases for their products and services, to support their customers and employees, are left with too many platforms and tools in the market. Knowledge bases help organizations to improve productivity by making important information readily available to their customers and employees. This is broadly categorized under Customer Relationship Management or Customer Service.
There are few platforms that provide a suite of services for sales, customer service, etc. One such major player is Salesforce, a CRM platform that hosts a Service Cloud that businesses can leverage to provide service and support to their business customers. One of the offerings inside Salesforce Service Cloud is Salesforce Knowledge, which is positioned as an effective knowledge management system that helps solve issues or answer questions from external customers as well as internal employees, by using articles.
Are you considering knowledge base capabilities in Salesforce as one of the options for your business? We recommend you read this article and understand why you can alternatively consider Document360, an industry-leading solution for building your knowledge bases.
- Do you use Salesforce for your CRM, and Customer support?
- Challenges using Salesforce for your knowledge base requirements
- What should someone look at choosing Document360 than Salesforce for knowledge base?
- Final Remarks
Do you use Salesforce for your CRM, and Customer support?
If you are using the Salesforce suite of products and have explored Salesforce Knowledge, and are still not very much convinced of using it for your day-to-day knowledge management but looking for better alternatives so that the knowledge base can be integrated into your Salesforce account to equip your support agents with a robust knowledge base while serving customers, you can consider Document360.
You can also read here the discussions, on why many businesses that use Salesforce knowledge are considering alternative knowledge base platforms that can still integrate with the Salesforce ecosystem.
Document360 comes with a Salesforce extension to ensure you do not miss out on any capabilities in the native Salesforce Knowledge and public site.
Access your knowledge base built using Document360 through your Salesforce customer relationship platform to provide customer support.Book A Demo
Challenges using Salesforce for your knowledge base requirements
Salesforce is one of the largest software companies in the world, offering several customer relationship management (CRM) services, including Sales Cloud, Service Cloud, Marketing Cloud, and Commerce Cloud. Though it is feature-rich and has a depth of domain context for the services it provides, over the years, the platform has grown so big it and has become complex for small teams and businesses to use and manage.
Building a knowledge base in Salesforce can be a complex and challenging task. There are several factors and specific challenges associated to be considered.
Though Salesforce Knowledge offers extensive content management capabilities, when it comes to managing a knowledge base, it also brings a lot of practical challenges.
Salesforce Knowledge is not built to provide the best user experience to author the content; it is constrained by the existing application architecture and design that doesn’t provide a not-so-good knowledge management experience.
Software like Document360 is purpose-built for knowledge base management and complements your content management team to manage your content effectively. The following factors may help you understand why you should consider Document360 compared to Salesforce Knowledge.
Getting started is not easy
Salesforce is a complex platform that serves a lot of content management purposes. Once you subscribe to a Salesforce account, you land inside a portal that demands a lot of learning and understanding of the platform’s concepts. You may consider exploring such platform concepts if your organization has complex content management requirements. If your organization has complex content management requirements, you may consider exploring such platform concepts. Document360, a Software-as-a-Service, provides a first-in-class experience for knowledge base management. It focuses on knowledge base concepts and allows your team to get accustomed to the tool in no time.
Setting up to manage the KB is tedious
There is quite a bit of configuration you must setup before you even get to try authoring an article.
Lightning experience cloud
This is a re-imagined Salesforce platform experience to build any applications in Salesforce. Some of the initial set up requirements are –
- Enable Lightning Knowledge in the Knowledge Settings.
- Manage users or groups to have the necessary knowledge of user permissions to manage articles.
- Set up the Knowledge App inside the Salesforce service account.
- Define Data categories to organise your articles.
These are only a few of the setup considerations for the knowledge app to be used by the content management teams. This could only help content creators and the users within your organization to use the content, support agents managing customer service tickets can access the articles and link them to their tickets.
Digital experience cloud
This is a new platform to improve and connect all aspects of customer experience. If you want a customer-facing site where your articles should be available for your customers, either with restricted or public access, you will have to configure this platform. You need to set up a lot of things before you can show the knowledge base articles to your customers. Some of them are –
- Enable Digital Experience in your organization, you must still create, configure, and then activate a site before it is live and available to users.
- Create a community-facing site in the digital experience platform.
Configure the Knowledge object to define your authoring section. This will need managing fields, associating them to record types, and assigning them to page layouts. Only with these settings will you be able to create articles for various purposes like FAQs, Training Manuals, etc.
Construct the necessary pages with relevant placeholder structures to display your articles.
- Home page
- Topics detail – to list all the articles inside a category.
- Article details – to showcase your article.
- Configure Field and Section visibility to define what content to be shown and restricted in the knowledge base article to different reader groups.
- Article Type to Topic mapping is required to map your knowledge data categories to meet the hierarchy you want to use on the public website.
All these setup (not completely covered above, there is a lot more to be done to get started) are not just a one-time activity; they may need constant changing, auditing, and management. Your content team may find all these overwhelming.
Understanding Salesforce application ecosystem and concepts
Salesforce has its CRM as the core offering, and they have expanded to multiple products over the years. Salesforce Knowledge is aligned with other structures of its ecosystem, which demands following the concepts to build any application.
Any content in Salesforce is defined as objects, that are database tables that allows you to store data specific to an app in your organization account. For this knowledge base purpose, the Articles are defined as a ‘Knowledge’ object.
Data categories are used to classify, find, and control access to a particular set of articles. You will use this to map articles to categorize them.
Record Types are a way of identifying many records of one type for an object. In this context, this defines the structure of an article. While creating an article, you will choose a record type, to create an article of that structure. For e.g. If you want to create articles of FAQ and Manual structure, you will have to create a record type for each.
Page layouts control the layout and organization of buttons, fields, custom links, and related lists on object record pages. They also help determine which fields are visible, read-only, and required. Use page layouts to customize the content of record pages for your users.
To define the access permissions of users and groups, for a user to access the knowledge base, a lot of settings need to be understood and configured to ensure relevant information is provided and others are secured.
Guest user profile
It is a hidden and default profile for a guest user to access knowledge base articles without login. Defining permissions for this profile is, again a tedious job.
Though Document360 has similar but less concepts, it is not as complex as Salesforce Knowledge. These concepts blend easily with the authoring experience. It is extremely simple to get started. As you sign up, you land your first article to be authored, and in less than a minute, you can see your article published and accessible to your end readers.
Document360 covers all the requirements to structure your content, hosting, and whatnot. You simply use Document360 as another authoring tool at your service, not just limited to text editor but feature-rich, to provide efficient knowledge base management. Your content team will find themselves very native to the application.
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Knowledge-base management is emerging as a new paradigm in online content management. There are a lot of new practices and internet nuances to be followed. Your content management team must upskill themselves to present the content about your product and services very effectively to serve your end customers and employees.
Salesforce Knowledge comes with a lot of complexities;, either your content team or you will have to assign a separate team to understand and manage the platform and its features in addition to managing the content. You are always dependent on the skillset required for these.
Your content management teams are not trained in Salesforce.
You will require a Salesforce Admin or expert consultant to manage the setup and changes.
Document360 does not require any such technical staff. It is built with content writers’ experience as a primary focus, and it is easy to adopt and use. It can be used by any technical writer who has used documentation tools like Microsoft Word or Google Docs.
What should someone look at choosing Document360 than Salesforce for knowledge base?
Ideal User / Customer profiles
While choosing the content management tool, we need to be aware of the following:
- Who will be using the tool to manage the content?
In this case, the content management team. They should feel very comfortable with the author and manage the content. The tool should provide necessary team collaboration and permission capabilities without complexities.
Salesforce Knowledge is cluttered, missing many features, and not user-friendly due to the complexity of its ecosystem.
2. Who will be consuming the content?
A knowledge base is created for both internal and public-facing purposes. Support agents will use the internal knowledge base to look out for solutions for the cases they handle, and employees may refer to the articles for organization-related information. Customers and guest users will access the public-facing site.
Configuring and setting up a public site through the Digital Experience cloud is another complex activity with Salesforce Knowledge.
Document360 can provide a better customer experience on the site, a productivity boost for the contributors, and a great SEO or marketing advantage, while authoring and making the content available for its consumers.
Pricing and total cost of ownership
Just subscribing to Salesforce Cloud alone is not sufficient to manage the knowledge base. When it comes to licensing with Salesforce, it gets complicated. You will require a full license for your contributors, then a knowledge user license for a group of people, a Digital experience cloud license for your public site and login-based pricing for private access.
Apart from the pricing, choosing between the Essentials, Enterprise, Performance, Unlimited, and Developer editions with the Service Cloud makes it more complex. It needs a lot of research to finalize which edition suits the best for your purpose.
It does not stop there. The indirect cost of technical staff to manage these tools, maintenance, and any configuration changes. Also, challenges in one service may have an impact on the other; you may end up coordinating with too many teams for support and resolution. All these add to the operational cost.
Document360 is a SaaS product with different pricing plans to suit your needs. No additional skill sets are required, hence no extra cost for any technical support teams.
Structure of the user interface
Though Salesforce positions its Lightning version to provide a re-imagined experience, the user interface is still not intuitive or provides a modern assistive experience. The UI is still outdated forms-based design, that does not offer enough real-estate on the screen for the authors to write content. The experience it provides is not the absolute best for the editors. If you want to author articles with large content and elements, you will find it challenging to follow the form-like experience. The editor’s capabilities are also limited.
Document360 provides one of the best editor experiences with advanced block editor capabilities and formatting utilities. Technical writers also want markdown and HTML-based editing experience as well, Document360 provides such editor capabilities.
Content structure and information architecture
In Salesforce, before you start authoring any content, you will have to configure content related objects and settings that define what your content should be made of – for example: if it is an article, then you should configure record types, data categories, etc. You will not find it easy to define content hierarchy, i.e., you do not see the proper content structure and the information architecture of the articles within their respective folders or categories. The content listing is very flat. To build the relationship between the content is very challenging.
Content management is restricted to basic capabilities like creating an article of a record type. As the volume of content grows, the hierarchy and structure of the content organization get complex. This is where the challenge arises.
You will have to create data categories, their mappings, and visibilities, and assign them to Knowledge. Once you have configured them, you can assign them to the articles.
Creating articles is also a challenge. By default, you have a record type to create articles of FAQ type i.e., to have a question-and-answer style. Also, creating one article with multiple question-and-answer sets is difficult. To have more sets in the same article or create an article of a different type, you will have to –
- Create fields & relationships.
- Then, create page layouts.
Once the page layout is defined, the same must be assigned to the record types against each user profile to enable which user has access to which record types.
Creating content and managing the structure, are all too complicated; they and it is not easy to visualize the content hierarchy. One must have a proper training and expertise on the platform.
Document360 provides better UX in terms of content organization and management. It is simple to use, feature-rich with advanced content management capabilities like
- Categorization of content
- Replication of articles within categories
- Content reuse with templates, variables, and snippets, glossary
- SEO management
Creating categories of articles for various purposes is intuitive and simple within the authoring space. This makes the classification of articles under categories and visualizing the hierarchy very easy.
Reader site access
Salesforce Knowledge provides access to knowledge articles to the public readers or customers through the Digital Experience cloud platform. A separate license, configuration and set up are required to enable the reader access to the public knowledge base site. The permissions to enable unauthenticated guest users to read the article is cumbersome to get the Guest User Profile configured. Defining SSO, custom subdomains are also difficult. You cannot review and manage the access.
Next, you must configure the mapping between the Data Categories and Topics to classify the categorization of articles on the public site. The combination of the assignment between these two may result in how same article is categorized in the lightning experience for internal purposes and in the public site. This is again two different concepts under another section called content management to be well understood.
Document360 provides a seamless experience to author and publish articles. You need not undergo a complex configuration process to set up the reader site and define access.
It provides a private access level for the internal knowledge base, public access for the customer- facing sites, and mixed mode. It is very intuitive.
You get all the capabilities to manage the knowledge management all-in-one place in Document360 compared to the Salesforce Knowledge, where you must switch between multiple sections of the platform.
Document360 allows you to manage reader roles, and content permissions, and audit the same. You may also want to restrict access or allow self-registration for email from certain domains and IP-based restrictions.
Content management capabilities
One of the main requirements of any content management activity is to manage versions. Salesforce Knowledge allows versioning at the article level. But this is not enough, you may need to manage the version at the project level in addition to the article level. This is necessary to launch a completely new version of a set of articles or even a knowledge base. This is not possible in Salesforce Knowledge. Whereas modern purpose-built knowledge base software, like Document360, provides such capabilities.
Article redirection rules
As we manage online content, the articles get referred to hundreds of external sites over time. One cannot avoid a scenario where the article URL may require a change after some time based on the change in context. In such cases, the backlinks to this article from other sites may result in broken links. It is not possible to fix this Salesforce Knowledge.
Document360 provides an article URL redirect feature that would be helpful when you change a specific article’s URL, and the same article URL has been referenced in different articles in your knowledge base.
Another important capability in content management is to deliver content in multiple languages to address the readers from different locales. While language management is possible in Salesforce, it is a complex process to set up and translate the articles. You have to follow a workflow to get this done.
Whereas in Document360, the support for multiple languages and translations is advanced with assisted machine translation services. With a click of a button, you can get your entire article translated in no time.
Suppose you have any internal processes for the content team to follow, from drafting content until it gets published to ensure it is well-reviewed and approved.
Salesforce Knowledge doesn’t have a concept of workflows, reviews and approvals are not straightforward. It will demand further configuration and management.
Document360 workflows are native to the application, which helps to create various stages or checkpoints and track an article/category page from the initial draft (New article) to a published one.
Article status and review reminders help in setting and representing the status of an article and help teams keep their articles up to date by alerting team members when an article is ready for review.
Users and Security
A single person does not usually manage a knowledge base or content. There may be at least two or more people working on this. Large enterprises have different teams with proper team structures to manage the content. This necessitates user management and security.
Salesforce Knowledge provides the user profile and access management, but this is not in the context of knowledge base management. It is provided from the context of Salesforce site settings.
Document360, on the other hand, has meticulously developed user management and security capabilities focused on knowledge base management. Some of the key capabilities expected by your content management team are listed below.
Working in a team
Often, one or more authors will work on a single article. They may co-author the article, review it, make corrections, etc. Document360 provides in-article discussion capabilities to collaborate with co-authors to discuss the portion of the content with references.
You should restrict access to your content management team members only to certain categories and not all. This granular level of content access restriction is not possible with Salesforce Knowledge. Document360 allows you to configure this at the user level and to create roles and assign access policies.
Public or private or mixed access knowledge base
Salesforce Knowledge does not provide the capability to configure permissions for your end users to access your knowledge base in a restricted manner. You may want all or some part of the content in a knowledge base to be public and the rest restricted to logged-in readers. Sometimes, you may want the entire knowledge base to be private such content to be accessed by logged-in readers only.
Document360 offers custom secure access to the knowledge base. You can have a limited knowledge base for internal users like employees and an open one for your customers.
As a knowledge base, you may not only be restricted to providing general content but also API-related information about your products and services. Salesforce Knowledge does not provide API documentation capabilities.
The API documentation feature in Document360 provides a complete solution for creating and managing API references. With this feature, you can create high-quality API documentation that helps your users understand and consume APIs effectively.
Ready to take your API documentation to the next level? Book a demo with Document360 today!Book A Demo
Almost All products and services are now considering AI features. Salesforce products are also experimenting with AI tools. Salesforce Knowledge, as such, has not released any AI features related to the knowledge base.
Document360 has already released a few AI capabilities that will complement the content writers with identifying the right title for the content, preparing precise summaries from the long content, recommending relevant tags to related articles, and helping generate proper SEO descriptions.
After the introduction of ChatGPT, customers are adopting this new wave of technology to its full potential. The Large Language Models (LLMs) that underpin ChatGPT have been evolving rapidly to cope with consumer trends. To adapt to the emerging customer trends and take advantage of technological capabilities, Document360 has a potential AI Assistant, Eddy. Eddy will provide answers to customers’ questions utilizing the LLM technology based on the knowledge base project it is pointed to.
These features are seeing faster adoption with our existing customers.
The above-discussed features are just a few to compare Document360 directly with Salesforce Knowledge.
While Salesforce Knowledge offers knowledge base content management, it is particularly valuable in scenarios where you already have Salesforce products in use and leverage the ecosystem. However, it also requires careful planning, development resources, and ongoing maintenance to overcome the challenges.
Evaluating your specific needs and resources is essential when considering Salesforce Knowledge.
Document360 is one of the most sought-after tools if you are looking for a comprehensive knowledge base solution. Your cost of customer services can be significantly reduced by allowing your users to leverage self-help using a knowledge base that offers quick responses to their queries.
Moreover, it enables you to create a knowledge base that streamlines internal communication between different teams. You can use Document360 to manage your knowledge base without relying too much on IT experts.
Once you explore Document360, you will appreciate the rich features that simply empower your content management teams.