Mention the term knowledge management (KM) and you’d once be greeted by a roomful of yawns. Not anymore. With artificial intelligence (AI) injecting new vigor into KM, its “old librarian” image is suddenly sexy. It’s a player that can make a significant contribution to CX improvement and competitive advantage.
Let’s face it: Company efforts to build knowledge bases are sometimes futile exercises. Content can be quickly accumulated. The challenge is managing it so it’s useful and easy to find. Compounding the challenge is the sheer volume of information organizations generate and receive today, and the increasing number of channels—in-person and self-service—where it originates and through which it can be shared.
The last thing you want is to maintain separate knowledge bases for every channel, creating more silos in an age when successful organizations are knocking them down. New KM tools eliminate the silos.
The tools can build a “single source of truth” for all channels, whether it’s the contact center agent’s desktop, the website or virtual agents, live chat applications, mobile apps or retail stores. They automatically tag and upload the content to the knowledge base, where it can be quickly accessed and shared across the organization on any channel, regardless of where the content originates.
Putting the new KM tools to work in our own company
The customer support organization at my company is planning to use the new KM tools, too. We’re a global company with support teams working on various products around the world. We plan to create technical product pages where users can see every bit of information related to a particular product—a one-stop-shop for customers and partners to see everything there is to know about that product, regardless of where the information originated, whether it was our online community or whitepaper on how the product can be used most effectively.
The goal is for product support specialists to lower handle time when talking with customers and deflect calls from the contact center via self-service. It not only will improve CX for our customers, but it also will keep our support team focused on solving new issues rather than answering the same questions over and over. The knowledge will inform our product development process as well by giving us visibility into trends and opportunities for new products and product enhancements.
A passport for every piece of content
The technology at work here is sophisticated. It took me a while to get my arms around how it improves the KM function and, in turn, what it can mean for CX, but it’s pretty revolutionary when you look at it. Implementing a modernized knowledge base with the new tools is like granting a passport to every new piece of content that comes your way—free to travel wherever it likes.
For example, customers ask support teams lots of questions about products. Support teams provide answers. Those conversations—voice, email or webchat— can be shared on an agent’s desktop or with any other audience deemed appropriate via any channel or device. And it doesn’t have to be the entire answer or article. What gets shared is whatever bit of the content is relevant to the customer’s case or the topic at hand.
From a CX perspective, the bottom-line benefit of all this is something the developers call “zero-click knowledge.” The new tools decrease the amount of effort required to get a question answered—sometimes even before the question is asked. AI performs a similar function. Based on a customer’s profile or the direction of an agent-customer conversation, AI can pull up pertinent content from the knowledge base and present it in a format that is an easy “get.”
The new tools can also anticipate the best next step for call center agents and provide them with the information they need, including phrases that must be said for compliance purposes, or next steps in an upsell or cross-sell opportunity. Self-service channels benefit, too. Natural Language Search capabilities enable the tools to understand what customers and employees mean when they do a search—even if it’s not exactly what they type at two o’clock in the morning. This accelerates knowledge retrieval, reduces customer frustration and improves CX.
At the B2B technology company for which I work, we call it “knowledge as a service.” It’s a new concept and, while the full impact of AI on KM is still being explored, it’s already delivering benefits to companies that use these tools. Here is one example.
Multinational automaker gives KM a spin
Our approach – and inspiration – for our implementation of knowledge management came from one of our customers, a multinational automaker, that is enjoying success with the new KM approach. The goal? To make consistent, accurate information easily available—whether it is for a customer in self-service mode, as part of an advisor-assisted engagement in the contact center, or by staff in retail stores.
The company also looked to improve call advisor training and onboarding, to increase call and email deflection to self-service where preferred by the customer, and to keep dealerships across Europe up to date with increasingly complex products and services.
With countless store interactions involving 10,000 retail staff and more than 1,000 employees, the new system has wide-ranging benefits. AI-infused KM has made it easy for customers and staff to find and share knowledge. The best part? CX at this company now lives up to the premium-brand expectations of its customers.
A new frontier for CX
I know there’s a lot of hype in the market today about AI. Unfortunately, some vendors say their solutions have AI, when in fact it’s automation technology at work. Automation enables machines to perform repetitive, mundane tasks. AI goes a step further, simulating human thinking by learning from experience, finding patterns and choosing the appropriate responses based on what it has learned.
The new KM tools can truthfully claim that AI is part of their architecture. They look like some of the best new tools a CX team can have in its competitive arsenal. I’m proud our company is deploying them for our own use and look forward to seeing how the rest of the market responds to them.