Contact center knowledge base – friend or foe?


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is one of the questions asked in the 29 Quality Assurance Mistakes to Avoid e-book and self-assessment. Our intent in asking this question is not to assess the quality of your contact center knowledge tool, but instead to determine if it’s being managed properly. The e-book contains diagnostic questions to help you identify issues affecting your Quality Assurance program. We want to offer insight to help illuminate missed opportunities, especially those which are pervasive in the contact center industry. For contact center agents, access to company knowledge is a vital component to being able to deliver an exceptional customer experience.

It’s easy to make your contact center knowledge base a foe

Contact center knowledge base - friend or foe?Do your customers complain about receiving different answers from different agents? Have you ever stopped to think about why that might be happening? It’s not always a skills training issue. While it’s easy to understand why a more tenured agent would be able to provide an answer in a more efficient manner than a new employee, both should be giving the same answer if they are getting the information from the same contact center knowledge base tool.

If your staff is primarily comprised of very experienced agents, it is possible that many of them have accumulated knowledge that is not loaded into the contact center knowledge base. While that doesn’t sound like an issue, it will quickly become one as soon as new agents are brought onboard and they can’t find answers to the questions that the customers are asking. Customers are very adept at sniffing out agents that are amateur in consulting abilities. When this happens, trust and first contact resolution performance drops.

Not keeping your contact center knowledge base tool up to date goes against all of the 4 vital questions in the Impact Quality Assurance (iQA) model. If your quality department isn’t able to update your knowledge base, you are missing out on an opportunity to improve accuracy and efficiency in your contact center operation. Possessing a long and convoluted process (or inconsistent) process for updating company knowledge can be a significant liability.

Impact Quality Assurance strategy chartFor example, let’s say you call the customer service hotline with a question regarding your tablet. The agent places you on hold a couple of times, but ultimately provides the answer that you needed. While you think that it really shouldn’t have taken as long as it did to get your question answered, you chalk it up to the agent being new and don’t think much about it.

A couple of months go by and you begin having the same problem with your tablet. You know you should have written down what to do in case it happened again, but you didn’t, so you have to call customer service again. This time your customer experience is different. This agent places you on hold multiple times, and she gives you a completely different answer than you remember getting the last time. Curiosity fueled by frustration prompts you to ask the agent how long she has been working for the company.

When the agent responds that she has been working there for about four years now, you are dumbfounded. Why is this company’s (tenured) contact center agents unable to answer questions easily and consistently? Surely you can’t be the only person to ever ask that question. Even if you were, wouldn’t they have updated their system after you called the first time and identified the issue? Where is the breakdown?

Situations like this happen too often and cause the customers’ perception of the overall company to deteriorate rapidly. Not only does the customer feel like nobody cares about them, they are left with the impression that the company doesn’t really care about doing a job well. If the company cared about the customer, they would give the agents the proper tools to service them.

The level of knowledge demonstrated by an agent is often measured during call monitoring sessions by quality analysts and deficiencies in the area are generally addressed with product/service training. Learning more about the products is helpful, but is not a comprehensive fix for this problem. A powerful contact center knowledge base, one that is easy to update by the quality team when they uncover a knowledge resource issue, is the answer instead of a siloed process or quick decision that all agents need to attend training classes.

Here’s how to make your contact center knowledge base a friend

Make Impact Quality Assurance (iQA) a part of your quality process. Review the 4 vital questions and adjust your processes appropriately.

  1. How are we, as an organization, doing at representing our company to customers? Giving your agents the proper tools to answer their questions is vital to the customer experience. This will allow you to avoid having agents that flounder to come up with answers on their own as that will yield different and inconsistent responses.
  2. What can we, as an organization, do to get better at representing our company to customers? Give the authority to make updates to your contact center knowledge base to the front lines where issues are first identified. Your quality team is a great resource for this job.  They can be equipped to ensure that the most up-to-date information is loaded at all times and that old, outdated information is removed. In fact, leading contact centers allow agents to submit changes to be moderated.
  3. How is this particular agent doing at representing our organization to customers? With the proper tools (an up-to-date knowledge base) enabling them to answer the customers’ questions in an efficient manner, the customer will retain or gain trust by not spending valuable time being placed on hold while the agent tries to come up with an answer. Agents will have greater confidence in the answer they are providing and will therefore project a better image to customers.
  4. What can we, as managers, do to help this agent get better at representing our organization to customers? When customers contact you with obscure questions, add that information to the contact center knowledge base so when another customer calls with the same question (because you know they will!) the answer will be easy to find and the agent will be able to quickly provide an answer.

quality assurance assessmentAbove all, providing good customer service keeps customers coming back and referring others. Increase your chance of this occurring by keeping your contact center knowledge base updated with current, relevant information that will enable your agents to provide answers in an efficient manner to improve the customer experience. Knowledge can be an asset for your contact center so make it your friend by cleaning it up and keeping it up (to date).

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Jim Rembach
Jim Rembach is recognized as a Top 50 Thought Leader and CX Influencer. He's a certified Emotional Intelligence practitioner and host of the Fast Leader Show podcast and president of Call Center Coach, the world's only virtual blended learning academy for contact center supervisors and emerging supervisors. He’s a founding member of the Customer Experience Professionals Association’s CX Expert Panel, Advisory Board Member for Customer Value Creation International (CVCI), and Advisory Board Member for CX University.


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