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Making information work for the customer – the key role of knowledge management

Making information work for the customer – the key role of knowledge management 1

By Gary Bennett, VP UKI/MEA/Northern Europe at Enghouse Interactive

In customer service, knowledge is power. In every interaction between the business and the customer – whether it’s an agent talking to a consumer over the phone, or a self-service interaction initiated by the customer through web chat – having an accurate, up-to-date self-learning knowledge management system (KMS) in place is crucial. Capturing and organising knowledge in this system will help to put the right information in front of the customer at the right time. 

However, the system will only be effective if it is accessible and intuitive for both agents and customers. Poorly designed portals for knowledge management and badly scripted FAQs will have a counterproductive effect, frustrating customers and deterring them from seeking out the information they are looking for. Furthermore, businesses are under increased pressure to ensure that all knowledge is kept relevant and valid over time.

To ensure that organisations can provide accurate, up-to-the-minute information, they must build a comprehensive and agile knowledge management system that empowers customers to answer their own queries using the channel that suit them best.

Changing customer demands

Customers have always valued personalised, reliable, and efficient service. But the rapid advancement of technology in recent years – accelerated further by the pandemic – has raised customer expectations to unprecedented levels. In a world of instant connectivity through social media, live updates and breaking news, consumers have grown accustomed to having information at their fingertips. Now, they are increasingly demanding that companies have the same seamless access to real-time data.

The channels through which customers consume knowledge have also evolved. Old practices, like leafing through a hard-copy manual or waiting on a switchboard operator to provide an answer, have long given way to more accessible and immediate sources of information. Video is now becoming the go-to medium for knowledge transfer and retention, as a new generation of customers lean towards its user-friendly and asynchronous “show not tell” qualities. Revealingly, a 2019 study found that almost three quarters (72%) of consumers now choose video content over text when learning about products or services. 

Companies need to pay attention to these trends. Video technology can easily be leveraged as a tool for knowledge management, whether through product videos, walkthroughs, how-tos, or tutorials. It can facilitate real-time conversations between multiple people, or ready-made self-service experiences. This versatility allows knowledge to be managed and transferred in a way that best suits the right individual at the right time, effectively bringing customer service firmly into the 2020s.

At a time when competition is high and consumer patience is low, it is vital that businesses continue to keep their finger on the pulse of customers’ changing knowledge consumption needs. A strong knowledge management strategy is therefore key to ensuring agility across diverse channels, helping agents manage a broad range of real-time customer queries. 

Striking the right balance

Putting such a strategy into practice can be challenging, however. Many customer service agents are currently experiencing data overload, making it difficult to filter out irrelevant information and stay on target. Agents also often have to contend with a multitude of sources when searching for the right information, constantly switching between different browsers and search engines. These silos inevitably slow down the process by preventing the consistent flow of timely, accurate knowledge. 

The right knowledge management system (KMS) can help companies to balance the rapid proliferation of information with the increasingly complex and time critical nature of customer queries. This system will have the capacity to hold all the knowledge individuals have acquired over time, so that businesses have a permanent repository for key information as the company and its customer base grows. Knowledge is seamlessly stored, organised, and derived in a centralised database, transforming the experiences of agents and customers alike though intuitive and timely access to key information.

A streamlined KMS can also ensure that all information is managed correctly and kept up to date. By integrating the solution into agent workflow and utilising knowledge experts, businesses can ensure that all content is consistently accurate, well-written, and well-organised. A similar balance can be struck with the formats in which knowledge is presented. Depending on the specific context, preferences and needs of the customer, interactions can seamlessly transition from short text-based chat to longer video demonstrations, webinars, FAQs, forums, or case studies.

Power to the people

Companies now have a golden opportunity to harness this new age of customer centricity. A combination of modern technology, such as AI, and a clear strategy to streamline knowledge across the organisation will provide customers with frictionless, reliable access across all self-service channels and communication touchpoints. This ultimately empowers them to answer their own queries, accelerating time to issue resolution and enhancing the customer experience at their time of need.                                                                                                         

Greater customer autonomy also brings about business benefits. By reducing requests for human-assisted service, a KMS solution can minimise operational costs and increase employee satisfaction and productivity. In fact, McKinsey reports that a well-maintained KMS can boost an organisation’s productivity by up to 35%.

Customer expectations have transformed over the past few years. Accustomed to fast, frictionless service and tech-enabled interactions, they want access to tools that help them find the answers they need on their own. Customer service agents are no different. By leveraging self-service technologies and KMS, both customers and agents can become truly self-sufficient, transforming experiences for all parties involved.

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