Most companies have recognized the value of investing in knowledge management (or KM), especially as part of their customer service strategy. It provides an always-available and ever-expanding repository of solutions accessible to customers and agents alike. It also reduces the impact of “information loss” for companies because, though staffing may change and skilled agents move on, solutions are preserved.
There is no argument that KM offers many benefits, but it’s by no means a silver bullet. Too often, companies make these mistakes:
- Put a lot of effort into the launch and early use of KM, but fail to stay on top of current issues
- Are slow to recognize new solutions and make them available
- Limit knowledge base exposure only to explicit search scenarios
Even maintaining a basic ongoing commitment to KM is to only realize part of its potential. Consider the following ideas to reorient your approach to KM and leverage more from that investment, and at the same time, make knowledge more pervasive, driving a better customer service experience.
A traditional source for most knowledge base articles is in examining closed and solved cases. Another is to document solutions that just seem to occur more often than most (I refer to that as “tribal knowledge”). Both are good sources that should continue to be used. But those aren’t the only places to look.
Do you review the search log for your knowledge base or customer service portal? What are customers looking for? Perhaps new articles from these searches are necessary, or existing articles need alternate tags and keywords added to tie the words and style used by customers to the solutions they are seeking.
If you also offer an online community for your customers, problems are routinely being solved by other customers and experts. Thanks to the social nature of communities as well as many offering the ability to mark the particular answer that solved the problem, new knowledge articles can be harvested manually or automatically from these interactions as consideration for new knowledge articles. In this scenario, the knowledge article has practically written itself.
Easier creation in-the-moment
It’s also a good idea to give customers the ability to suggest new knowledge articles. This might be in the form of tagging an answer in a community as valuable that wasn’t already harvested as described above. It can also take the form of allowing customers to provide feedback on existing articles; perhaps an existing solution does quite solve a similar issue and the customer can describe why the article isn’t correct.
Agents are responding to multitudes of service requests every day. After closing their tenth case on the same issue, analytics aren’t needed to know a problem is very common, and a knowledge article would be beneficial to both customers and agents. These solved and closed cases should be tagged as potential articles and submitted via workflow to the KM team–a better method of ensuring tribal knowledge is captured!
To only serve up knowledge articles to customers who are expressly searching the knowledge base is to severely limit its exposure and usefulness. After all, customers may choose not to search your knowledge base or give up after a few failed attempts. That’s okay, because knowledge can be inserted into other customer service scenarios.
Chatbot use is growing rapidly in the customer service arena, and it’s not surprising. Their conversational nature is often easier for customers to use than search, and it’s been shown customers are getting more comfortable using them. Driven by scripts or artificial intelligence, they guide customers to answers. Possible answers should include the appropriate knowledge articles.
Earlier, it was mentioned online communities are a great source of new knowledge material. Your knowledge base can also prevent unnecessary questions being posted that have already been answered (and solve the customer’s problems faster) by suggesting possible solutions as the customer is creating a new question in the community.
Not every customer will go online first and search for an answer. They may prefer speaking or chatting with your contact center. Just as knowledge can be searched when asking the community a question, why not suggest potential knowledge articles as agents enter case details? Similarly, if you allow customers to create and submit cases online, ensure a knowledge search is occurring as they enter case details and offer potential solutions prior to case submission. They will be happy you offered suggestions, especially if one turns out to be the solution to their problem.
Push knowledge to its limits
These are all very advanced options meant to take your KM capabilities to the next level. They can all be realized with a modern customer service management solution integrated with KM. Look closely at your current solution. Is it capable of offering you all these benefits? Is it time to consider something new?
Technology aside, there is also the adherence to a repeatable process and a KM culture. Perhaps you aren’t using KM today or are still very early in your use; or perhaps you are using it, and are looking for a more formal process. In either case, you might consider Knowledge Centered Service (KCS®¹). Much of what was discussed here is part of the KCS process. This webinar (live or watch the recording) demonstrates the potential benefits of KCS, its best practices, and how to measure success.