Knowledge management (KM) is a burgeoning market and for good reason. According to Financesonline, 1.134 trillion megabytes of data were generated every day in 2021. In the business world, one of the richest sources of data is the contact center; data created by the billions of interactions between customers and agents across communication channels, ranging from voice to chat, through online and mobile self-service, and from virtual assistants and bots. KM solutions now enable data and information of all types to be created, published, and managed from an infinite number of sources including documents, video, databases, call logs, speech and text analytics, customer and partner communities, social media postings and community web sites, web site activity, search engines, and interactive voice response (IVR) systems, retrospectively for historic periods and for real-time consumption.
Data also can be found in a multitude of systems of records ranging from customer relationship management (CRM), ticketing, marketing, and sales applications to back-office databases, such as billing, shipping, and receiving. Fold into this a wealth of third-party sources and you have a treasure trove of information on customers and their interactions with a business. Sounds complex, but, in reality, KM solutions are purpose-built to provide key information and surface actionable insights across the business.
The primary target of these riches is, of course, the agent. Failing to capture and share everything they need to know about the customer and the products and services being offered has negative ripple effects across the business. Unprepared, uninformed, and undertrained agents can downgrade the customer experience (CX), reducing customer satisfaction (CSAT), increasing costs, and, ultimately, leading to unhappy agents. In an industry known for high employee churn rates, KM fills the knowledge and training gaps, provides just-in-time information, and improves agent performance over time.
An equally critical point in generating data occurs whenever a customer tries to self-serve before interacting with an agent. This is all the more important as consumer preferences and expectations have dramatically changed in the past decade. Today, consumers prefer self-service to live agent assist, and are quite adept at navigating company websites and mobile apps to help themselves. Yet, 1 out of 3 consumers say that digital/self-service channels don’t meet their needs1. The perfect fix to changing this dynamic is providing customers with the right information when and in what form they need it, and then agents if more care is required.
Unprepared, uninformed, and undertrained agents can downgrade the customer experience, reducing customer satisfaction, increasing costs, and, ultimately, leading to unhappy agents.
Customer Journey Intelligence Starts with Knowledge Management
The primary self-service failing is typically not providing the right answer or result a customer is looking for, fracturing CX. When customers can’t get the right answers in self-service, they get frustrated, escalate, or leave. Similarly, when agents lack product or service knowledge to assist them, don’t know enough about the customer to personalize the interaction, or struggle to find the right information, the same result occurs.
Building a KM center for your business can solve for both the customer and agent, with far-reaching benefits. This is where the use of artificial intelligence (AI) steps in. Modern KM systems take advantage of tools infused with technologies under the umbrella of AI including machine learning, natural language processing, deep neural networks, and others. For instance, analytics solutions such as speech and text analytics, provide some of the largest datasets in the world and allow companies to mine information from all customer interactions, providing insight on myriad aspects of customer engagement, including, but not limited to:
- Customer sentiment and intent
- Agent training needs
- Opportunities for upselling and cross selling goods and services
- Competitive threats and opportunities.
When used as a tool in self-service:
- Customers can quickly and thoroughly get questions answered and issues resolved, or simply learn how to do something themselves without engaging a technical support person or customer service agent.
- They can have intelligent conversational interactions with self-service channels, such as virtual agents and bots.
- Customers can feel more confident about their purchase decisions and relationships with organizations.
- They can avail accurate, timely, and up-to-date information 24/7/365.
When used as a resource for agents:
- Agents can easily assist customers as information surfaces quickly, thereby boosting agent confidence and lowering average handle time.
- They are relieved of the tedious and time-consuming task of searching for answers.
- Agents can more easily comply with regulations.
- Their engagement is improved through stress reduction; as a result, they are empowered to serve customers better.
Modern KM systems take advantage of tools infused with technologies under the umbrella of AI including machine learning, natural language processing, deep neural networks, and others.
Targeted Knowledge Management is Key
Various forms of KM have been used in the contact center for decades, but not all systems are created equal. While most KM systems can churn the ocean of customer and interaction data, and provide operational insights across the business, having a tailored KM center adeptly targets some of the key pain points in contact center management, increasing CSAT, enhancing employee engagement, and reducing costs.
KM also can directly assist the customer. A KM center is much more than static FAQs on a website, although FAQs certainly play a part. It is a rich repository of information that rapidly surfaces what a customer needs through AI-powered intelligent search and automation, that assists them in finding answers to questions and issues. For instance, it can contain product, warranty and service information, how-to guides and videos, glossaries, and tutorials, to name a few. It also enriches those channels by enabling bots and virtual agents to search for answers on the customer’s behalf, without human intervention, providing answers via chat on websites and mobile devices, or via voice in intelligent virtual assistant applications.
Building a KM center also allows you to anticipate customer needs before they become issues by populating the center with information a customer might ask for. New product hitting the market? Reduce incoming call volumes and make customers or prospects happy by putting relevant product information in the database before launch, along with any instructional videos if needed.
And, of course, when self-service does come up short, the same solution also helps the agent successfully resolve the interaction by enabling them to easily find answers using intelligent search while talking with customers, increasing their confidence and knowledge in the process.
Continuous Improvement Cycles
KM centers evolve over time by constantly syncing up with the information being mined in customer interactions. These AI-powered tools can also improve the quality of interactions by transcribing agent interactions and sharing notes, best practices, and positive agent conversations with other agents or for use in training. It also pinpoints agent training gaps by analyzing how often an agent searches for a piece of information or topic.
KM centers uncover the most salient topics and issues of the day by tracking what agents and customers are searching for and which questions they are asking. It shows where they got stuck or searched further.
Moreover, as a shared resource, a KM center nourishes areas beyond the contact center by being a source of evolving information for other stakeholders including product management, sales and marketing, and operations.
Knowledge Management is the Unsung Hero of Agent Engagement
While the customer benefits are clear, KM is also the unsung hero of agent engagement. Properly equipping agents to handle customer interactions from the mundane to unexpected keeps agents more interested, involved, and satisfied with their jobs, typically extending their tenure with the company.
A less obvious but enticing aspect of KM is in harnessing the tribal knowledge generated by agents–not just for themselves, but the kind of information that typically would be water cooler chatter, shared by tapping the agent in the adjoining cube to help solve an issue, or kept on yellow sticky notes on a monitor. A KM center incorporates that type of information as well, so if agent turnover occurs, that information is not lost and is properly captured, managed, and shared. Best yet, this in turn can assist in training new hires during the onboarding process on products and services and those important best practices and tips from other agents.
Defining the Scope
Where do you begin? Start by defining the scope and goal for the center, and which departments or stakeholders can also stand to benefit by contributing to or getting information from the center and gaining consensus on content and collaboration. Is it product and service focused; thus, product management and R&D should be involved? Is it service oriented, involving myriad back-office functions such as billing, shipping, and receiving? Looping key groups into the process ensures that data will stay fresh and relevant.
Knowledge is Power
Knowledge is power, and powering up your self-service channels is a sure-fire way to keep customers engaged with your business and happy, and gives you a competitive advantage over those that proclaim digital access, but then only half deliver. A fit-to-purpose knowledge center becomes a continuous improvement loop, not a loop of disappointment. With a KM center, this rich resource can be shared in a collaborative environment, benefitting the agent and customer, and the critical stakeholders across the organization that all have a part in crafting the customer experience.