Searching the knowledge base must become an integral part of the problem solving process—search early, search often. The best practice for information capture is to search the knowledge base in real-time, while in conversation with the customer. The words and phrases we use to search are potential content for a new article if one doesn't already exist. Once we have captured a description of the issue and some information about the environment (such as the hardware and software involved), we have enough context about the problem to perform a search. By searching early and getting explicit information about the customer's situation, we ensure we understand the problem as the customer sees it and we minimize the risk of investing time in problem analysis and research on a problem that has already been solved. The "early searches" in the problem solving process should be done using the customer context.
Searching often is important because as we are working on the problem and learning more about the situation we need to search using the new information to see what we collectively know about this or similar situations.
Searching is not a one-time event but rather something that is done throughout the problem solving process. The advantages of searching often are:
As new information is collected, a search should be done to see if a knowledge article about this issue or a similar issue exists.
The articles found in a search, even if they don't directly address the issue at hand, can provide helpful perspectives from similar issues. This can help direct the conversation and help us identify clarifying questions.
It is particularly important to search the knowledge base one more time, before we save a new article, to be sure one doesn't already exist.