— November 5, 2018
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Every day, your customer service agents are fielding inquiries from customers. Similarly, your online community is overflowing with customer questions. Some of these might be the same issue, over and over and some are new–new problems in need of a solution.
This is where a robust knowledge management practice is invaluable for companies. As solutions are developed in the customer service contact center and in online communities, a wealth of knowledge is generated. Using knowledge management processes, these solutions are roughly documented, edited and placed into a standardized format, validated, and published. Knowledge management makes the wisdom of your customer service team and customers in the community available in a constantly-evolving library of solutions. And making them available reduces the time a customer spends facing the issue.
Knowledge management is an investment that only pays off when it gets used. Unfortunately, its use is sometimes unwittingly limited. Let’s examine four ways to expand its use.
It’s no surprise Forrester stated in their trends report in 2017 that “customer service will continue to invest in structured knowledge management … to extend the reach of curated content.” For many companies, it serves as a cornerstone to their customer self-service strategy.
Organizations adopt knowledge management in the first place to provide a searchable, always-available-from-anywhere source of answers for customers. Knowledge management makes it easy for customers to go online and use keywords or phrases to find solutions.
Chatbots, another form of customer self-service, continue to grow in popularity. Gartner has predicted that by 2020, twenty-five percent of customer service operations will be using them. Chatbots perform well for customer service, providing a conversational interface to problem-solving and can be an easier means than search for customers.
Chatbots need information to be successful. Today, they are unable to truly troubleshoot problems; they are merely following a script or path gleaned from machine learning or other training. This is where knowledge management comes in. Once the chatbot has determined the customer’s problem, it can direct them to the appropriate knowledge article.
Brand new or seasoned veteran, customer service agents don’t always have all the answers. New agents struggle to quickly amass a working knowledge of answers and even the pros will forget things from time-to-time. And for both, there’s always the “new-to-them” problems that have already been diagnosed and resolved by a colleague but they have not yet heard of.
Knowledge management serves as a great crutch for them. Just as the knowledgebase connects customers to solutions, so too can the agent rely on this resource to assist customers.
Customers might not be aware of or are wary of searching a knowledgebase or interacting with a chatbot. Their reasons might be because they don’t understand how to use either or they have had little success with them in the past. In those situations, they might opt to use other channels to find a solution–channels that not only involve live agent interaction but also might mean a slower time-to-resolution. In those situations, it’s time to get innovative to still leverage that knowledge management investment.
Insert knowledge article suggestions into your other service channels. For example, as customers use email and case submission processes, perform a knowledgebase search for them anyway and offer possible solutions. One of those suggestions might solve the problem in-the-moment and deflect the need for a live agent to respond. (Plus the customer will be happier with that faster answer.)
Likewise, agents can benefit from embedded knowledge searches. They might fail to search the knowledgebase or be using the wrong search terms. As they interact with customers and create cases, suggest potential answers to them. Again, this results in a faster resolution for the customer.
Making knowledge articles broadly available is one thing, but there are other aspects to be mindful of to ensure success. Regardless if you have already embraced knowledge management or just getting started, consider the following best practices:
- Create knowledge articles as problems are solved. Author, verify, and publish these solutions as quickly as possible so that customers, agents, and chatbots can start taking advantage of them.
- Use keywords, tags, and synonyms to build robust search indexes. Knowledge articles are only useful when customers and agents can find them. For customers, the use of keywords, tags, and synonyms is especially important because they might not use your same terminology when describing their issue.
- Dedicate staff to knowledge management. Only with dedicated and skilled resources–skilled in writing, editing, and validation–can your knowledge management efforts succeed. Even if you can’t dedicate full-time staff, consider using agent non-customer time (when they aren’t assigned “live” interaction time with customers) to create and edit knowledge articles.
- Realize there is a beginning, but no end. Products and services come and go, policies change, and so on. Your knowledge content must keep up with need, demand, and use. Analyze customer cases, knowledge searches, chat transcripts, and any other sources deemed viable in your contact center to determine where knowledge gaps exist. In addition, ask your agents since trends develop rapidly in the trenches. Remove articles no longer relevant. Knowledgebases must be well-maintained to remain effective.
- Separate external and internal articles. Some solutions might best be administered or overseen by an agent working with the customer. Policy-related issues might be best for an internal audience only. Flag articles as internal-only or completely separate them with internal and external knowledgebases.
A valuable asset
Companies adopt knowledge management in customer service to make fast and consistent answers available. Yet despite this investment, they often end up limiting its use to only one or two scenarios, curbing its potential effectiveness.
Don’t miss out on additional ways of making knowledge accessible and useful to customers and agents. Expand its availability in the manners described; you’ll reap greater benefits as customer issues are resolved faster.