Knowledge management

Knowledge Hubs for the Digital Transformation of Citizen Service

In a consumer survey we conducted during the pandemic, 57% of those surveyed reported getting different answers for the same question when they contacted a government agency through different channels and touchpoints. According to a Gartner report, poor customer experience (CX) is the biggest barrier to digital transformation success. And one of the biggest deterrents to good customer experience and the big reason digitization in government organizations has plateaued is knowledge chaos.

So now you know why we are talking about knowledge as the missing ingredient in the digital transformation of citizen service.

We teamed up with GovExec, a digital publication for government-related news dedicated to informing government leaders of developments that benefit the sector’s performance, to discuss this very important topic as part of a webinar. Sam Hahn, Technology Evangelist at eGain spoke about the state of digital customer service and knowledge management in the public sector with Daniela Fayer, publisher at Defense One.

1. Digital citizen engagement is a reality

Daniela: So, we hear a lot about the importance of digital customer experience and especially the need to improve it to meet the objectives of the Biden administration. I wanted to ask you what are the imperative issues you are seeing coming out of the new administrations?

Sam: There’s been a large investment right, so people have said we’ve got to get digital, we’ve got to connect people on a digital platform—that’s obviously the Internet—we’ve got to take away the reliance on points of presence like physical points of presence.

We basically did transform the engagement with all of this new technology (that is, digital channels) and as a result we did see a lot of engagement. Obviously, these channels are a way for people to get quicker service, quicker interaction, quicker knowledge, and they’re asking way more questions than they ever did before. But why is it that we’re still not seeing the ROI that we made those commitments for?

2. State of digital customer service in the government sector: Not good

Sam: Trust in government has been eroding for decades, that is the general trend.

Citizen experience (à la customer experience)

State of citizen service
But if you now look at the last few years, at 2019, 2020, 2021 Forrester index, the government sector is scoring the lowest in citizen experience (in the business sector it’s customer experience, here it’s citizen experience).

If you look at Gartner, they’re saying if you actually put the ability for citizens to interact on a website to find their own answers, that self-service technology fails to deliver about 90% of the time. Customers are abandoning their journey—it’s not us saying this, this is Gartner saying.

Now when we do our own surveys, we also see that 52% of the people out there are feeling that customer service has gotten worse in the government sector—it was ranked last for digital customer service.

Agent experience

If you look at the agent experience, 65% of the agents that we talked to said they are not getting the right knowledge, they are not able to respond to the customers with the right, correct, consistent knowledge quickly. According to Gartner, 84% hate their tools.

So if the citizen experience is not good and the agent experience is not good, that’s a deadly combination.

Business experience

Now let’s take a look at what the organization’s experience is. Over the last couple of years, many people have transitioned to working remote and utilizing technology such as chat and email and others. They want to maintain that remote work habit. Then there’s a number of people who are not coming back to the workplace. Now couple that with the fact that 94% of federal employees are over the age of 30. There’s huge aging population and one-third of them will retire in the next five years. That’s a lot of very valuable knowledge acquired with lots of experience walking out the door. How can you retain that in some way?

If you take a look at training programs, clearly 90% of them have been disrupted.

Government agency's experience is also poor

What’s the common factor affecting all experience?

So what’s the common element here? The common element is where are you going to get the right knowledge to the right agents, to the right citizens, to the right self-service portal at the right time. There’s the challenge.

Why knowledge management over content management?

Gartner says that proper knowledge management is the number one technology that can simultaneously, across the citizen and the agent and the agency, really make that experience a whole lot better and just get out of all those bad metrics that we just talked about. Those experiences are going to improve if you now focus on knowledge management. Content should be useful whenever you actually ask for it, but a properly developed and deployed knowledge management system must be useful, it must be correct, and it must be there at the right time, there’s the key difference.

Knowledge hubs: Going beyond

Anybody can put together some content – you go after a quick solution, you click together the first six use cases, anybody can do that. The reason we like to distinguish what we call knowledge hubs and a true knowledge management system is you want to look at how it’s behaved after 20+ years of deployment and having learned through hundreds and thousands of deployments what do users care about, what do knowledge authors care about, what do the contact center agents care about, what do the agent-serving citizens care about. That maturity, in addition to the raw knowledge and how you make that knowledge usable and good and effective and current, that’s what a knowledge hub is going to do.

3. Why is digital transformation failing?

Daniela: So, that’s some really interesting data on the performance of the government sector. It sounds like they’re really having some challenges here and it’s a little concerning. What’s missing? Can you elaborate on why digital transformations are not serving citizens or agencies and a little more about that slide you have up right now referencing the missing ingredient?

Sam: If you want to use a metaphor, once you’ve made those connections (that is, interaction channels), once you’ve built those pipes you want to make sure that the proper material, the proper flow is taking place within those pipes. You want it not to be sludge, you want it to be crystal clear, you want it to be pristine, you want it to be very nutritious, okay that’s the knowledge.

You can actually have random content which looks like sludge—it’s not curated, it’s not current, it’s not personalized. Or you can actually have very current, very well curated, very well authored, very personalized pieces of knowledge that are pertinent to exactly what that conversation is that’s taking place in real time.

Once you’ve got the basic infrastructure and that investment completed, now you want to look at what actually flows through that infrastructure.

4. 7 essential KM best practices to improve customer experience

Daniela: So, we’ve been creating all these pipes and now we need to look at what we’re putting into them. And so I think if you’re saying knowledge is the missing ingredient, then how should we include it? And do you have some best practices that you could share with our audience?

Sam: We have clearly gotten about 24-25 years’ worth of experience doing this. Not only we thought so, but Gartner has done this study and they are saying that the way the problem is structured out in business and in government, these are the seven crucial focus areas. Every one of these needs to be taken very seriously or every one of them has the potential to derail your investment.

7 essential KM best practices to improve customer experience

Think about this outside-in, engage with partners who actually got experience doing this, and look at how you actually have the entire experience from your citizens to your agents to the agency itself, and have that be on a platform that is quite mature and has already been proven for a couple decades.

A common challenge that organizations face is they often need a combination of all the tools and best practices to achieve the goal, instead of only using one or two. (Kraus, et al. 2021 “Delivering Relevant Content and Knowledge to Customers is Key to Great Customer Service.” Gartner, Inc.)

Don’t just go after one or two and you can’t do this in a siloed fashion, that’s basically the message.

5. How knowledge hubs enable the 7 KM best practices

Daniela: So, a knowledge hub would enable all of these seven best practices so that’s what you’re looking for foundationally and it sounds like something we need to know more about. I’m wondering if you can talk those seven best practices in a hub and what that hub actually is.

Sam: The way we think about hubs is that they’re more than just the knowledge itself. It’s the way the knowledge can be presented at the right time at the right place.

When you’ve got a hub, that has got not just the knowledge use cases but it’s got the integration use cases, it’s got the curation use cases, it’s got the personalization use cases, then you make it not so much a chore but you actually make it flow.

It’s that platform which not only contains the knowledge, but you actually allow the authoring once and then let it be personalized, let it be specialized, let it be translated, let it be presented in a number of different portals, languages, product, context, policy context, etc.

Then we can actually give you an ability to automate and add intelligence to that content. Now you don’t have a problem with compliance anymore because when a session is executing, the system is looking at – have you made this particular disclosure, have you cited this particular regulation, have you advised the citizen of their rights or options, and all of that set of compliance regulations is automatically taken care of if the knowledge management system is guiding the agent. And the agent is then saying, OK, I’ve done this part, I’ve done that part. Now you’ve got no concerns about whether or not your session is going to pass audit.

Also, if you’ve got personalization and profiling then you can actually take the same set of knowledge and put it into a widget, put it into a mobile device, put it into a self-service portal, and make it available in whatever form a citizen wants to interact with it.

Then if you put in all the right reporting and tracking and counting and journey analysis, then you understand what’s really being used effectively. What knowledge seems to have been giving people pause—maybe they’re here for 20 seconds longer than they ought to. That’s a clue for you to say let me go back and take a look at that piece of expertise or knowledge or content.

And here’s another thing, when you are investing in a knowledge-based product or platform, part of what you’re committing to is that that knowledge base (KB) needs to be grown, it needs to be nurtured, it needs to be taken care of, and it needs to be treated as a growing entity. When we’ve got some very successful knowledge or content, then think about automating it, put it into a wizard, put it into an app, put it into a guided process, that the agent can take advantage of.

This is what a knowledge hub can do for you and it’s obviously not just about handling content.

So, it is basically presented in an omnichannel way. We like to say, it puts you on the highway towards success. This little vortex might even say put you into the wormhole that’ll really put you into warp speed for success!

6. Knowledge success stories from government agencies

Daniela: I think our audience is probably really interested in learning about some specific successes that you and eGain have had with an eGain knowledge hub within government agencies. Can you share some examples with us?


Case study 1: IRS | There’s an organization most of you are familiar with—the IRS. They are actually one of our customers that is really heavily dependent on our knowledge solution. With 50M sessions a year they were looking for some assistance. They came to us and said we really want to leverage our thousands and thousands of SMEs and deliver that level of quality to all of our citizens. So we built a solution that allowed incoming calls to immediately service a citizen rather than having them hold on the phone. So, if you’re able to detect that this citizen is on a smartphone and say, hey, would you like to click on this link and go and see whether this solves your problem, it did so 70% of the time. They’ve got 25% reduction in case handling time by their agents, and they’ve got five times as many taxpayer services per hour being handled.

Related: Anne Shepherd of IRS spoke more about the agency’s knowledge journey in this video. She spoke at KMWorld Connect 2021 where she had shared the stage with eGain.

Case study 2: Government healthcare agency | There’s a government healthcare agency that’s very large. 128 000 contact center staff. They serve 25 million users via self-service every year. They have already projected, after six months of deployment, that within three more months their service costs are going to go down by 30% and the customer experience index according to Forrester is going to increase by 33%. Don’t we want to see this in all of our government agencies?

Case study 3: Premier health insurance firm | A premier health insurance firm with 5M customers had >2K agents who went remote overnight due to COVID-19, without impacting performance. This is a nice quote from them:

“All my agents love eGain’s knowledge 360. It is super-efficient and easy to utilize single source of truth that I use it every day.”

7. The risk-free offer for support

Daniela: It really looks like an opportunity for government agencies and their service providers you know agents to start innovating their digital transformation. So how do you go about making it easier for them to contact you and get some support here?

Sam: Because we’ve got over two decades of experience, we’ve got a very well-developed model.

We take this value model, plug in what we know about your organization and your operations—number of customers you serve or citizens or the number of agents that you want to automate or this many sessions that you run per year. We can very quickly give you some ideas of the kinds of ROI (Return on Investment) you would experience.

Once you’ve had that conversation, we invite you to take advantage of this program we call IITD (Innovation in 30 Days). We’ll look at your website, we’ll look at your customers, we’ll look at the reasons people come. We’ll engage in some discovery, we’ll put it into our platform, we’ll show you a demo, and then we’ll have that conversation again—this is the kind of ROI you could experience with this platform and see if one month is worth investing in just to actually see this play out for your organization. That’s the offer we’re making. Risk is all on us.

Thank you.

For the full interaction, watch the video.

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