The importance of the Knowledge Manager to customer service success
In my previous blog I outlined how important knowledge is to successfully deliver customer service, and how to overcome the challenges of creating a centralized, multichannel knowledge base.
Ensuring that knowledge powers your customer service isn’t just about technology – and certainly doesn’t stop when your knowledge base goes live. You need to make knowledge a strategic priority by appointing a Knowledge Manager to lead your efforts on an ongoing basis.
What does the job of a Knowledge Manager entail? Listed below are the seven main areas that the role should cover:
1. Be a strategic leader
Buy-in for knowledge management has to come from the top, and therefore the Knowledge Manager has to set out clear, strategic priorities and work with stakeholders to ensure they support the program. Knowledge management covers may areas, so it is important to focus on clear, measurable objectives and projects that benefit the business.
2. Establish best practice
A Knowledge Manager needs to act as a center of excellence on the subject by defining, collecting and disseminating best practice across the company. By setting standards and guidelines, they can ensure that everyone is pulling in the same direction, whatever department they are in, to prevent siloed customer service.
3. Build a culture for knowledge
Knowledge management is critical to thriving in today’s business world. Meeting the ever-changing needs of customers requires businesses to be flexible, adaptable and open to new ideas. This can be challenging to many people, so the Knowledge Manager needs to work with all stakeholders, including senior executives, to build an open, learning environment that embraces change, rather than fears it. Knowledge sharing has to be central to company culture. For example, the NHS Business Services Authority (NHS BSA), created a paper-free culture, replacing files of information within its contact center with an online knowledge base, and moving from notepads to desktop whiteboards.
4. Teach users about the power of knowledge
Many staff are instinctively suspicious of new technology and worry that it will diminish their role. Part of the Knowledge Manager’s job is therefore to bring them on board and teach them about how knowledge can empower them, help them work smarter and the mechanics of using the system. This is vital to ensure that information seekers know how to ask better and smarter questions of their intelligent resources, so that systems are optimized for their needs and that users give feedback and information to help drive continuous improvements. Create feedback loops that enable you to listen and learn from your users and customers. This ensures that knowledge remains central to business operations and that companies continue to provide a superior and efficient customer experience.
Teaching agents to use the knowledge base for all their responses has other benefits. It will ensure that answers are consistent and that the correct information is given out – vital in the case of regulated industries. It also boosts productivity – for example, Domestic and General saw training time reduce by 20% as agents were able to use its knowledge base to find answers to incoming queries.
5. Create and manage knowledge
Obviously the Knowledge Manager is responsible for the planning, creation and ongoing maintenance of the knowledge base. This includes defining the knowledge hierarchy, working with frontline users to ensure it meets their needs and then collecting initial knowledge from agents, managers and other departments to ensure the knowledge base is as rich as possible. This is key to guaranteeing usage and adoption. Knowledge Managers also need to assess changing business operations, products, services and processes to ensure the knowledge base is always suitable and relevant for both the organization and its customers.
Moving forward, the Knowledge Manager needs to create clear and easy to understand processes for knowledge capture and sharing of information that is relevant, timely and effective, as well as putting in place processes to manage knowledge on an ongoing basis.
6. Demonstrate the business impact of knowledge
Knowledge Managers need to monitor activities to identify how existing knowledge is being used, for example, which articles are being used the most and the least, and to assess article ranking and user feedback. Armed with this information, the Knowledge Manager will be able to identify any gaps in the knowledge base, thus improving its contents and driving greater usage.
Every project needs to show that it delivers return on investment and helps improve company performance. The Knowledge Manager therefore needs to monitor key metrics (such as agent productivity and user/customer satisfaction), in order to show the bottom line benefits that knowledge brings in terms of reduced costs and greater customer loyalty.
7. Globalize knowledge management
While a knowledge base may initially be created to solve a particular issue in one department, it provides even greater value when shared across the organization. The Knowledge Manager therefore needs to act as an evangelist, looking for opportunities to widen the use of the knowledge base, and ensure that all relevant staff have access to key assets to enable teams to deliver to their targets. For example, as well as contact center agents, knowledge could be used to share important company information from other departments such as HR or learning and development, or even made available through smart devices to staff in physical shops or field-based employees such as engineers or representatives in order to get maximum benefit.
Given the rising importance of knowledge, the role of the Knowledge Manager is likely to expand further over the coming years. I suspect it won’t be long before we have our first Chief Knowledge Officer…