5 ways of improving your customer service knowledge base

Published on: June 03, 2015
Author: Steve Nattress - International Solutions Director

Fast access to the right information, in the right form, is an essential part of delivering excellent customer service. Whether it is through self-service systems on the web, or providing agents on the phone, email, social media or chat channels with consistent and accurate information, knowledge is the cornerstone of a successful customer experience.

A company’s knowledge base is therefore vital. However, simply creating a knowledge base is not enough – it needs to be actively managed to ensure it is always up to date, usable and accurate. How can companies do this and ensure that they are continually improving service levels? Based on our experience working with organizations across multiple sectors, here are five ways you can ensure your knowledge base continues to meet the needs of your agents and customers:

1. Get agent buy-in
When they are building their knowledge base companies understand that it is important to get agents to engage with the process, and to feel that it is ‘their’ system if they are to drive adoption. There are many ways of doing this. Some work with staff to find a name for the new system – in the case of the NHS Business Services Authority, for example, agents chose Sherlock after an organization-wide competition. However ensuring buy-in is a constant process. Create champions that promote the use of the system internally and make it easy for agents to rate the suitability of answers and provide feedback on responses. It is vital that you close the loop when agents give their views – acknowledge their message, incorporate changes into the knowledge base answer and then make sure you let the agent know that updates have been made. This will encourage greater engagement and encourage future feedback.

2. Carry out regular content audits
As well as using agent (and customer) feedback to update answers, schedule regular reviews of all the information within your knowledge base. Additionally, review your content before major product launches or when changes in regulations might make your answers obsolete. Use analytics to see what content is no longer being accessed, and if it can be retired. By keeping your knowledge up to date you’ll drive greater usage and make it easier for agents to find the information they are looking for.

3. Structure content around channel needs
A good way to think about your knowledge base is to compare it to a website. It has to have the same ability to engage visitors and make it easy for them to access information. However, unlike an external website, for an internal knowledge base you don’t want agents having to spend a lot of time on your knowledge base – it has to be structured in a way that makes each visit as short as possible, and encourages them to come back again and again. Phone-based agents don’t have a lot of time so concentrate on giving them a smaller number of relevant answers, rather than making them wade through pages of information. Bear in mind Miller’s Law, which states that humans can only cope around seven choices (plus or minus two dependent on circumstances). So don’t overload agents with too many partially relevant answers, and instead ensure that searches provide a manageable choice.

4. Be consistent
Again, work from the start point that agents on the phone don’t have a lot of time. So structure all your knowledge base answers in the same way, so that they can immediately find the information they need. Use color coding to differentiate important areas (such as regulatory requirements) and introduce standard icons across the knowledge base to make content easier to assimilate quickly.

5. Use the right language
Content needs to be concise and understandable. Use plain language without ambiguity so that there is no confusion or inconsistency. Keep articles short and to the point, rather than covering multiple topics in the same piece. Save rich media, such as diagrams or videos, for answers provided directly to consumers via self-service systems, and predominantly use text for information aimed at agents.

Running a knowledge base should be a process of continual improvement, with answers constantly being refined and new content added. To do this you need to ensure you are engaging with users, getting their feedback and incorporating it on an ongoing basis. Only then will your customer service continue to benefit from the power of up to date, consistent, and easy to access, knowledge.

Tags: Customer experience, Customer Service, Knowledge, Knowledge base, knowledge management, linguistics, Miller's Law, NHS BSA, Video
Categories: Contact Center, Customer Engagement, Customer Experience, Customer Service, Knowledge Management, Multichannel Customer Service

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