Why Knowledge is power

Published on: June 05, 2019
Author: Steve Nattress - International Solutions Director

Brands understand that today’s consumers demand more from the customer experience and customer service than in the past. People want to buy from companies they trust and those that make the whole buying experience easy, simple and smooth. By the same token, they are more discerning and ask more detailed questions covering a wider range of issues than ever before. This makes knowledge and how you manage it a key factor in successful customer experience.

For example in Eptica’s Knowledge Management study last year, 88% of consumers told us they want brands to be more transparent and provide more in-depth information, while nearly two thirds (65%) said their questions were more detailed than five years before.  

If you don’t provide the answers consumers need, you undermine their trust and loyalty - 91% of consumers we polled said it annoys them and makes them less loyal when brands don’t answer their questions satisfactorily. Worse still it could mean brand advocates turn into detractors.  

As a brand today there are three key knowledge management challenges you must overcome:

  1. The sheer amount of knowledge you’re now required to store and share is growing exponentially. Managing this effectively is time-consuming and complex.
  2. At the same time, knowledge can often be trapped in departmental silos. In Eptica’s Digital Trust Study, well over half (58%) of brands gave completely inconsistent answers to routine questions across channels - in fact, no answers were the same on more than one channel. To demonstrate the business impact of this, one travel company said on Twitter that it was free to amend a booking, but responded on Facebook saying it would cost £35 per person to do so.
  3. The speed of business has accelerated. Providing out of date knowledge doesn’t just annoy customers, it can lead to inconsistency and mean companies aren’t treating everyone fairly (or the same). This is particularly important in regulated industries such as financial services where companies must follow set processes and give approved answers to consumers.

How can you address these challenges?

1. Implement a centralized knowledge base
Establish a comprehensive, up to date centralized knowledge base that spans all channels and departments. This can help you deliver consistency and brings down costs. The knowledge base should be able to support agents internally (when responding to incoming customer questions by phone and via digital channels); as well as being capable of directly providing answers to customers via self-service or by powering AI chatbots.

2. Empower your agents to succeed
Your agents are a key component of the customer experience. So arm them with the tools to maximize the knowledge that’s important for customers. Give agents speedy access to up-to-date information to field queries on the phone, as well as ready-made templated answers they can tailor when responding to customer questions via email and social media.  Make the user interface to your knowledge system simple and easy to use. This can all contribute to faster response times, increased First Contact Resolution (FCR) and – importantly - help to free up agents’ time and mental energy to focus on the human characteristics customers value when interacting with agents, such as empathy and emotion.

3. Embrace AI to enhance search and deliver the most accurate answers
Agents and consumers use a variety of terms when searching for information, which can include jargon and slang. Integrate AI and Natural Language Processing (NLP) into your knowledge base to understand what consumers are asking for and to help deliver relevant information faster, improving both the customer and the employee experience.

AI can also help to improve accuracy, by learning from user feedback about which answers were most relevant. For example, if consumers and agents all pick a particular answer to a question, the knowledge base learns that this is the best response to it and automatically supplies it in the future.

4. Listen and learn from your customers and agents
Just 8% of consumers feel that brands are listening to them all the time.  Yet the nature of their questions can provide a gold mine of feedback that can be used not just to ensure you’re able to provide the required information, but also to provide clues on how to improve your business.

For example, if a large number of questions are about whether you have a product available in a certain color, or with a specific feature, you should explore whether to bring in those elements. Obviously, analyzing customer questions can improve the knowledge base itself as well as filling any gaps around the information provided via your website.

Similarly, your agents are at the sharp end and they can be a valuable source of information about ways to improve your approach to managing and sharing knowledge. Make it easy for them to provide feedback on whether your knowledge base has the information they need. For example, let them rate answers in terms of usefulness, and allow them to give feedback on specific sections of an answer to drive improvements.

Knowledge really is power.  As we’ve seen it’s crucial to creating a superior customer experience, meaning it can influence customer retention and loyalty, and therefore contribute directly to business success.

Tags: Knowledge, CX, Customer experience, Eptica, Customer Service, AI, Artificial intelligence, loyalty, knowledge management, Knowledge base, digital, Customer satisfaction, trust
Categories: Best Practice, AI, Product

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