Knowledge management (KM) systems are used to identify, organize, store, and disseminate information within an organization. Because they gather and collect organizational knowhow, skill, and technology and make it easily accessible from a centralized place—both within and outside an organization—knowledge management systems have broad utility for many aspects of work.
One area in which they are especially useful is customer service, where they can improve the accuracy and efficiency of call center and help desk personnel, facilitate customer self-service, and speed up everything from employee training to problem-solving and information recovery.
Organizations looking to implement knowledge management for customer service or other uses have a number of options from which to choose. While budget will play a part in an software selection decision, it’s just one of many factors to consider, and this guide ranks the best knowledge management systems by use case to help you see how they compare to your own particular needs.
- Best for Collaboration: Confluence
- Best for Multi-Channel: ZenDesk for Service
- Best for SMBs: Zoho
- Best for Self Service: Jira
- Best for Sales and CRM Integration: Salesforce
- Best for Agent Assistance: KMS Lighthouse
- Best for Customer Engagement: Verint
Top Knowledge Management Software at a Glance
Knowledge management software is very much in demand, with Gartner reporting that 74 percent of customer service and support leaders have set a priority of improving knowledge and content delivery to customers and employees. The recent boom in artificial intelligence (AI) is affecting this market, like so many others, with systems that incorporate AI features and chatbots becoming increasingly popular.
Each of the top systems takes a slightly different approach to knowledge management, offering a mix of features and benefits. Here’s a quick look at how they compare.
|Cloud-based||Multi-Channel||AI Chat||Help Desk||Pricing per user per month|
|ZenDesk||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Starts at $49|
|Zoho||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||$12 to $25|
|Salesforce||Yes||Yes||Yes||No||$25 to $300|
|KMS Lighthouse||Yes||No||Yes||No||From $25|
- Key features of knowledge management software
- Benefits of working with knowledge management software
- Bottom Line
Best for Collaboration
Atlassian’s Confluence is all about content collaboration across Android, iOS, Linux, and Windows devices. This cloud-based system enables companies to publish, organize, and access knowledge from a single place, and is especially well-suited to helping organizations collaborate on knowledgebase data across multiple channels.
- Works across multiple channels on Android, iOS, Linux, and Windows devices
- Lets users create documents, publish, organize, and access knowledge from a single place
- Collaboration features include feedback on new documents, keeping track of versions, sharing documents, exporting PDFs, and copy/pasting images
- Includes project management and Jira integration
- Can collaborate with Asana, Slack, Miro Board, Google Sheets, and other tools
- Good ease of use
- Enterprise-grade permission handling
- Lack of a flowchart builder
- Dated user interface
- Lack of Microsoft Teams integration
Confluence costs $5.75 per user, per month for the standard version and $11 for premium. The price goes down by almost half after 1,000 licenses. A free “lite” version for up to 10 users lacks enterprise features and includes just 2 GB of storage.
ZenDesk for Service
Best for Multi-Channel
Zendesk for Service provides an open, flexible platform designed to enable customer self-service. It helps organizations provide personalized documentation across any channel, can scale to the large-enterprise size, and has an integrated Help Desk ticketing system.
- Users can interact via phone, email, chat, and social media
- Easy to implement, use, and scale
- Integrated ticketing system
- Includes AI and automation for faster issue-resolution
- Facilitates customer self-service
- Offers a unified workspace with a contextual interface
- Omnichannel support
- Can be too complex to use for SMBs
- Can be difficult to integrate, especially for small businesses
ZenDesk starts at $49 per user, per month. For the self-service customer portal, AI, customizable tickets, and multilingual support, the price rises to $79. The professional version at $99 also includes a live agent activity dashboard, integrated community forums, private conversation threads, and more.
Best for SMBs
Zoho Desk can manage all customer support activities and is context aware. It has integrated Voice over IP (VoIP) features and comes with analytics and AI tools as well as a ticketing system, making it a good choice for SMBs and mid-sized enterprises.
- iOS and Android compatible
- Provides features for interacting with agents through VoIP and social media
- Agent, manager, and customer-specific features
- Includes a ticketing system
- Strong reporting capabilities
- Tracks customer requests across channels
- Cloud-based system is easy to use and makes ticket-tracking easy
- Users can manage tickets and everything else in one place
- Includes AI-based chat and analytics
- Not designed for large enterprises
- Some customization and integration limitations
Zoho is free for up to three users. The Professional plan costs $12 per user, per month, and the Enterprise plan costs $25 per user, per month.
Best for Self Service
Jira Service Management is a tool for self-service knowledge management for employees and customers. It helps trace knowledge usage frequency and can identify content gaps and flawed articles. AI-powered search is available as well as good editing and formatting capabilities.
- Tracks document changes, incident runbooks, and playbooks so teams can continuously learn and improve
- Helps monitor knowledge usage to identify content gaps, optimize articles, and see which articles deflect the most requests
- Provides a federated knowledge base
- Self-service management of knowledge articles
- Provide companies and employees with relevant articles quickly
- AI-powered search that surfaces relevant knowledge articles
- Knowledge management is one facet of a much larger suite; may not be suitable for people who only need knowledge management.
Jira Service Management is free for up to three users. Its premium plan starts at $47 per user, per month. A custom enterprise plan is also available.
Salesforce Service Cloud
Best for Sales and CRM integration
Salesforce Service Cloud is part of the vast Salesforce universe. Its aim is to help customers find answers quickly across any channel, which it accomplishes by empowering agents with the best answers to questions. This multichannel solution also incorporates AI.
- Centralized knowledgebase for all agent and customer information
- Uses analytics to identify which knowledge articles are working and to identify new articles that need to be created
- Automatically suggests articles for conversations
- Can share across multiple channels
- Can embed knowledge articles into a website, portal, community, and mobile app
- Can quickly deliver answers to customers by adding the knowledgebase to the Salesforce agent workspace
- Integrates fully with Salesforce customer relationship management (CRM)
- Uses AI chat bots to recommend articles
- Integrated computer telephony capabilities
- May be too much for companies that just want knowledge management, as it contains case management, service console, service contracts, computer telephony integration, web services, and more.
Salesforce Service Cloud only provides knowledge management in the starter ($25 per user, per month) and unlimited ($300 per user per month) versions.
Best for Agent Assistance
KMS Lighthouse is all about knowledge management, and seeks to improve first-interaction resolution by intelligently directing agents to the right answer and reduce call center operational costs.
- Built-in intelligence can cut agent training time in half to onboard agents and employees
- Lighthouse call center knowledgebase serves as a “single point of truth” to help call center agents speed up calls and avoid inaccuracies
- Lighthouse Chat enables agents to communicate and collaborate with knowledge-sharing via instant messaging and links to articles and relevant content
- AI provides instant responses to agents and customers during search
- Can function like a personal assistant to answer on-the-job questions
- Makes all product/service knowledge easy to tap into and compare to help with upselling and cross-selling
- Integration can be a challenge
- Needs better reporting
KMS Lighthouse starts at $25 per user, per month.
Best for Customer Engagement
Verint Knowledge Management integrates across business operations with self-service contact center capabilities designed to help staff engage better with customers. Automated knowledge is embedded directly in tools and workflows.
- Uses context from customer history to personalize results, resulting in the right knowledge appearing with little to no searching.
- Helps agents find answers via search using everyday language
- Guides decision trees help to resolve complex issues
- Helps agents understand what customers are looking for
- New content is automatically analyzed and optimized for search, removing the burden of manual tagging and linking
- Vendor is not transparent about pricing models
- Customer reviews say it is expensive
Verint does not publicize its pricing models.
Key Features of Knowledge Management Software
While each platform takes a slightly different approach to knowledge management, all of the systems in this article share some common features.
Knowledge management repositories should include all of the business’s articles and sources of knowledge, but locking it all on-premises can be limiting. Cloud-based systems integrate with other systems more easily and can better facilitate search and sharing among users and customers.
Knowledge management software should make it easy to collaborate across multiple channels, such as phone, email, chat, social media or other channels. Information should be always accessible, anywhere, on any channel, on tablets and mobile devices, and on PCs and laptops.
AI is being incorporated into a great many tools and IT systems, and knowledge management is no exception. Its best use case is in chatbots that provide users and agents with answers to questions, summarize information, and provide sales data.
Knowledge management systems can be tightly integrated with a help desk as well as with customer contact center systems, though not all users need this functionality, making it a selection point to narrow down choices when considering systems.
Generally speaking, the more features and capabilities a knowledge management package includes, the higher the cost. Lower costs systems may suffice for organizations that need limited features. Those that need enterprise capabilities, help desk integration, and advanced AI and should expect to pay more.
Knowledge Management System Benefits
A knowledge management system can benefit a business in a number of ways. Here are a few of the most common:
- Provides all enterprise knowledge in one place
- Offers powerful search capabilities to find information quickly
- Helps customer service agents answer customer questions
- Lets customers access knowledgebase for self-service
- Makes it easy and fast to update information
- Improves both accuracy and consistency
- Helps with training new employees
The items on this were chosen based on analyst evaluations, user reviews, and assessment of a wide range of lists suggested by knowledge management experts.
Bottom Line: Top Knowledge Management Systems
While knowledge management systems have broad utility for many aspects of an organization’s work, they can be especially useful to help reduce costs of customer service, facilitate self-service, and speed up everything from employee training to problem-solving and information recovery. Organizations should select knowledge management software based rigidly on their specific business needs. Some need all the bells and whistles that come with enterprise-class systems, such as scalability, help desk integrations, and more, while others will only need specific knowledge management functionality. Choose the system that best meets your specific needs without charging for unnecessary features.