Salesforce Knowledge Quick Start Guide

Guest Author Aaron Toner

Aaron Toner

London based, guitar slinging Salesforce Administrator/Consultant obsessed with empowering users with Salesforce tools to perform firing on all cylinders.

In this guide, we’ll discover what Salesforce Knowledge is. We’ll discuss some of its use cases, and learn how to quickly set it up for internal users within Lightning Experience.

What is Salesforce Knowledge?

In a nutshell, Salesforce Knowledge is a powerful knowledge base tool which gives your users the ability to create and manage Articles within Salesforce.

Why should I care?

Many businesses struggle with the challenge of putting correct information into the hands of their employees and customers when they need it most. Obstacles to this can include incorrect or out of date information, difficulty in accessing knowledge resources, or knowledge base content being flat and difficult to interpret.

Salesforce Knowledge solves all these problems by making it easy for your users to share their expertise with clients and colleagues right from the platform with just a few clicks. Articles can have attachments, links, videos, images and rich text, so they can be much more than just a static body of text on a page.

How does it work?

Articles can be created quickly and updated easily by users with the Knowledge User Feature License. Once an article has been created, it needs to be published. You can let your users do this immediately, or have it go through an approval process to make sure that oversight can be provided where required. 

Once published, Articles can be surfaced to the audience you specify, such as internal users for training and process documentation, or to external users for FAQs and ticket deflection. Anyone who has access to an Article can read it without any additional licenses required.

In addition to the above features, Knowledge Articles work in concert with Cases in amazing ways. Users can attach relevant articles to cases using the Knowledge component, and Salesforce can automatically suggest relevant articles based on Case information to your users, empowering team members to find solutions quickly and driving case resolution.

If this seems like something your users could benefit from, read on to find out how to kickstart Salesforce Knowledge in your own Org.

Enabling Salesforce Knowledge in Lightning Experience

On the Service Setup homepage, select "Knowledge Setup."

Enabling Salesforce Knowledge in Lightning Experience
Select Knowledge Setup

The Lightning Knowledge Setup wizard will open and give you a high level of what comes next. Click Next.

Lightning Knowledge Setup

Assign Knowledge User licenses to users who should be able to create Articles (don’t worry, if you’re not sure who to give licenses to at this point, you can do this later on the User Record by checking the Knowledge User checkbox). Click Next.

Choose your Lightning Knowledge Authors

Knowledge will take a minute or so to enable itself, so just sit tight.

Knowledge will take a minute or so

At the next step you can add Data Categories right away if you wish, we’ll skip this part for now and click Next.

Knowledge is now enabled in your Org

Done! Knowledge is now enabled in your Org! You can jump right into writing articles, or configure Knowledge further by checking out the "What's Next?" guide for lightning. For now, click Finish.

You're ready to write

Knowledge Settings in Setup

Now that Knowledge is enabled, let’s take a quick look at some of the settings available to us. Search for Knowledge Settings in Setup. Once you click through you’ll see that a lot of these settings are relevant to Salesforce Classic only, apart from the Lightning Knowledge Settings, and Knowledge One.

Under Lightning Knowledge Settings you will see two options; to enable Lightning Knowledge (which we’ve just done through the Service Setup wizard) and to enable automatic loading of rich-text editor when editing an article. Make sure this setting is turned on as it makes Articles much more useful to your audience.

Enable rich text editor

Under Knowledge One, we can configure some of the more powerful Knowledge features, some for the Knowledge lightning component, and some related to Cases. Ensure that all 4 checkboxes are ticked as these settings will make searching for Articles easier for your users. Under Available Case fields, choose up to 5 Case fields. Salesforce will use the values of these fields to figure out relevant Articles to suggest to your users based on Case information.

Choose up to 5 Case Fields
Knowledge Language Settings
Share Article via URL Settings
Knowledge Statistics Settings

Recommended Configurations: Suggested Articles, Topics and Synonyms

These settings are not necessary for your users to use Knowledge, but they can enhance functionality in useful ways and are worth checking out.

Suggested Articles is the most important one of these three topics. To turn this on, search for Support Settings in Setup. Scroll down to Enable Suggested Articles, and enable the Internal App. This will prompt Salesforce to suggest Articles for users on cases where the Knowledge component has been placed, using the Case fields we chose in the previous step.

Enable internal app

Topics can be enabled for most objects in Salesforce, though they’re super useful for Knowledge, allowing users to define and tag each Article with Topics which can then be searched within the Knowledge component or even the main search bar. To enable this, search for Topics for Objects in Setup. 

Topics for Objects in Salesforce

Synonyms are not specific to Knowledge Articles, but again can make them easier to find. Synonyms allow you to relate words together in a Synonym Group. When you search for one of the words in a group, Salesforce will also search for the other words. Salesforce has a default list of these Synonym Groups in place, but if you want to create custom ones specific to your Business/Org, search Synonym in Setup, then click New under Custom Synonym Groups at the bottom.

Standard Synonym Groups

Optional Configurations: Data Categories

Data Categories are a feature which allows hierarchical categories to be defined and used to organize Articles. These Categories can also be used to restrict access to Articles by Data Categories, similarly to the Role Hierarchy. For more information on how to work with Data Categories, check out Salesforce’s documentation: Work with Data Categories (Salesforce.com)

Configuring Salesforce Knowledge in Setup: Knowledge Object Settings

Now that Knowledge is enabled, you can search for it in the Object Manager. Let’s make sure the relevant fields, layouts and record types are configured for our use case.

Knowledge Record Types & Page Layouts

In Setup, go to the Object Manager and search Knowledge. Click through to the object.

Go to Object Manager and search Knowledge

FAQ is already available as a record type and as a page layout as default. This may meet your use case, but let’s make some changes, starting with a new page layout.

Start with a new page layout

Under page layouts, click New, select the existing page layout you want to copy or leave this field set to -none- to create from a blank page, give the layout a name, and save.

Create a new page layout

On the Page Layout editor, add the relevant fields and lists, and even lightning actions. You can create additional fields and actions to add here as your use case requires.

Add relevant fields and lists

Now we have a page layout, let’s create a record type to allow us to assign it to our Users.

Create a new record type

Under Record Types, click new, then select the existing record type you want to copy (if you don't want to copy FAQ, select master) Enter a name and description, assign to the relevant profiles and select Active, then click next and choose the page layout created in the previous step.

Select the existing record type you want to copy

On the next page, you can choose to apply one page layout to all profiles for this record type, or set different page layouts for each profile for this record type. For now select Apply one layout to all profiles.

Select Apply one layout to all profiles

Now we’ve setup the object the way we want it, time to surface the Knowledge component to your users.

Make Knowledge available to your Users.

In Setup, search for App Manager, then select the app you want to add Knowledge to (in my scenario it’s the custom Salesforce Support – Console app), click on Navigation Items, and search for Knowledge.

Select the app you want to add Knowledge to

Use the right pointing arrow to move Knowledge into the Selected Items part of the screen, then use the up/down arrows to move it to the right spot in the Navigation Menu. 

Now users of that app can see Knowledge in the Navigation Menu! When they visit here, they’ll see some list views, and some buttons on the top right like New, etc.

Move Knowledge
Move Knowledge to the Navigation Menu

While Users can create Articles from here, and view draft and published Articles, this isn’t where they’ll use Knowledge most of the time, they’ll use the Knowledge Component on a Case or another record page.

Navigate to the relevant Lightning Record Page (either open a case which has the desired Lightning record page assigned > click the cog wheel > click Edit Page, or go to Setup > Object Manager > Case > Lightning Record Pages > click the relevant one).

Navigate to the relevant Lightning Record Page
Navigate to the relevant Lightning Record Page 2

On the Component Manager sidebar, select Knowledge. Drag and drop it into the desired place on the page. Click save. Done!

Congratulations! You’ve enabled Knowledge within Salesforce, and empowered your users to own and share their expertise with those who need it!

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