Getting started with knowledge management in customer service
Knowledge is at the heart of delivering a successful, consistent and efficient customer experience whatever type of organisation you are in. Collecting and sharing information, incorporating feedback and keeping centralised knowledge updated is central to delivering superior customer service.
However while most managers understand the importance of knowledge, many are simply not sure where to start. This month, to help businesses benefit from the power of knowledge management we’re going to write a series of blog posts on the topic, highlighting best practice, tips and case study successes from amongst the Eptica customer base.
Firstly, what are the stages of knowledge management within customer service operations?
1 Individual knowledge
Essentially there are no shared resources. Every agent has to rely on their own knowledge to deliver answers to customer enquiries - at best they might ask a colleague or manager if they don’t know how to respond. Obviously this provides an inconsistent, inefficient service with wild variations – consequently most companies have at least moved on to the second stage.
2 Manual management
The company has realised that they need to manage knowledge but is still using ad hoc methods to do this. This might be through paper files, ‘cheat sheets’ on an agent’s desk or the use of floor walkers or specialist staff who are trained to provide answers. There are two main problems with this approach. It simply isn’t efficient as agents have to put callers on hold or delay answering emails until they have looked through paper files or checked with managers – in some cases it might even involve having to phone them back. All of this pushes up response times and annoys customers. Secondly, updating information is time consuming and laborious. Manuals need to be re-printed (which adds to costs) and staff have no real involvement in the system itself. Again, responses may not be consistent across different channels as there is no single source of information in the customer service team.
3 Customer service knowledgebase
The organisation has created a centralised knowledgebase that is easily accessible across all channels within the contact centre. Answers can be tailored by audience – so for example, agents receive more detailed answers compared to consumers using web self-service. The knowledgebase is dynamic, easy to update and is self-learning, bringing down management time and further increasing efficiency. It is simple for agents and customers to provide feedback on answers and for new information to be added as needs change. Deploying a centralised customer service knowledgebase increases consistency, efficiency and satisfaction as customers receive fast, accurate and up to date answers whatever channel they choose to contact a company through. First Contact Resolution rates increase and time to respond drops, all backed up by efficiency savings through more productive staff who require less training.
4 Company wide – and beyond
Companies reap significant benefits by implementing a customer service knowledgebase. But opening this knowledgebase up to the rest of the company, your customers and partners delivers the ability to completely change how you work. Sharing information can help remove departmental boundaries and link other parts of the organisation to the customer service team, providing and accessing answers. Customers receive a consistent response, whether they are dealing directly with your organisation, through a partner or an outsourced contact centre. And with social media, your community has access to centralised information and can even contribute to answers, deepening their engagement.
Knowledge is power may be an old saying but it has never been more true. Take a look at the stages above – where does your company currently sit? Over the next few weeks we’ll be providing more advice on creating a strategy to move forward with knowledge management – watch this space to learn more.