What is a Knowledge Management System?
Business and IT leaders agree that Knowledge Management is critical to their success. However, only a small percentage of them say they’re ready to tackle this customer service imperative. In the interest of bridging that gap, we want to answer some questions that, while seemingly simple, provide a crucial foundation for the problem of Knowledge Management.
- Knowledge Management vs. Knowledge Management Systems
- Types of Knowledge
- Why Use a Knowledge Management System
- Who Uses Knowledge Management Systems
- Essential Features of a Knowledge Management System
Knowledge Management and Knowledge Management Systems: What is the Difference?
Knowledge Management is a business process. It’s the process of capturing, storing, sharing, and managing an organization’s collective knowledge: explicit, implicit, and tacit. The main goal of Knowledge Management is to retain information that’s important to a business or organization, thus improving efficiency and productivity. Knowledge Management includes the management of informational assets such as what may be in a document management system or database, customer information (probably in a CRM system), the processes through which information is processed, stored, leveraged, and shared, and most importantly, the people who use, share, and maintain that information.
Knowledge Management System
A Knowledge Management System (KMS) is an IT system, through which an organization implements Knowledge Management. The system organizes, stores, and retrieves the collective knowledge of an organization. Ultimately, a Knowledge Management System ensures that necessary information is available on demand, eliminating the need to rediscover knowledge. Increasingly, knowledge management systems use Artificial Intelligence technology for better efficiency. The system can be used within a company, though today they are often used as external-facing customer service tools.
What Types of Knowledge Should be Included in a Knowledge Management System?
To fully capitalize on a Knowledge Management System, an organization needs to gather three types of information.
This is knowledge that is easily documented, shared, and deployed. Examples might include company policy, contract entitlements, blogposts, how-to videos, user’s guides, troubleshooting manuals, and industry regulations.
Tacit Knowledge is gained from personal traits and experience and could be more difficult to capture and disseminate. Per Gartner, it even includes intuition and judgment. Sophisticated Knowledge Management Systems that can leverage AI and reasoning fare better in their ability to do it.
Implicit knowledge is not consciously accessible, for example, knowing how to ride a bicycle or swim. Another way is to look at Amnesia. When someone is affected by it, they forget explicit and even tacit knowledge in many instances, but not implicit.
Why Use a Knowledge Management System: The Benefits
While knowledge management systems have broad applicability across the enterprise, customer service has been a sweet spot. At eGain, we’ve worked on knowledge implementations for hundreds of organizations, from fashion retailers to international telecom firms and large government agencies. Despite their widely varied products and missions, they have surprisingly similar reasons for deploying a Knowledge Management System.
Reduce the cost of customer service
By making it easier for contact center agents to find accurate information, a Knowledge Management System reduces their average handling time of resolving customer service issues. Faster resolution translates to happier customers and efficient and happier employees.
Help customers self-serve
An AI-powered Knowledge Management System can help customers find answers to their questions, even outside of normal business hours and without having to wait for an agent.
Speed up employee training and onboarding
By providing relevant knowledge on demand, knowledge management systems can reduce the need for training and protracted onboarding and speed up employee time to competency.
Faster information findability and problem-solving
Whether it’s solving customer service issues and providing expert advice to customers in the case of contact centers, or answering employee questions in the case of HR, a Knowledge Management System offers fast, accurate, and consistent answers, and offers it proactively. It can also give detailed data on how (or if!) information is being used.
Know the story of the bank that became #1 bank in customer satisfaction surveys in 18 months, even as it completed its expansion across 11 countries within a year, with the help of an omnichannel knowledge base and a knowledge management system.
Easily share expert knowledge
How do you get knowledge from a business leader or veteran customer service agent to others who need it? A Knowledge Management System provides the repository for that knowledge and the mechanism through which it can be authored and efficiently delivered across channels and touchpoints.
Capture expertise from the best agents
The real-world experience of the best customer service agents is immeasurably valuable. A mature Knowledge Management System also includes good content management capabilities. It facilitates the capture and dissemination of expert knowledge and knowhow at the point of need, across channels and touchpoints. The system can thus make all your agents as good as the best ones and deliver transformational benefits for the customer, the agent, and the business! Know what we mean by cloning your best agents.
Who Uses a Knowledge Management System?
Customer service agents and customer-facing staff
A Knowledge Management System serves as the primary source of knowledge for customer service agents. A good Knowledge Management System can federate knowledge from various content and legacy systems and proactively offer accurate information to the user for the customer issue they are trying to resolve. The AI technology embedded in the knowledge system guides agents and other staff through dialogs that are best practices- and compliance-driven, to the right answer or process. The automation has become even more essential as agents can no longer simply walk over to the “next cube” for guidance.
Customers prefer self-service to calling the contact center. Knowledge management systems can provide online customers the same quick, accurate, and consistent answers that they offer agents. When backed by AI, they automate conversations and offer intelligent guidance that improves self-service success.
Employees spend upwards of 20% of their time just searching for information. Knowledge management system can be used across the enterprise to speed up information findability and employee productivity. It can also be used to enforce process compliance at scale, whether it is with industry regulations or organizational best practices.
Essential Features of a Knowledge Management System
A good knowledge base
A centralized, omnichannel knowledge base (or content base) is central to a good KM system. The knowledge base software (KB) includes robust content management capabilities for collaborative creation and single-sourced publishing. Apart from using the centralized knowledge base, the knowledge system enables migration of content from other knowledge bases and federation of content from other CRM and legacy sources. Our Knowledge Management implementation methodology includes sound content advice, including what to federate, what to bring into our knowledge base, and when.
Can a Knowledge Management System house more information as your organization acquires it? Can it scale across thousands of users? A scalable Knowledge Management System is important to supporting growth in the enterprise.
Supporting multiple languages is a necessity in the modern marketplace. The best knowledge management software are multilingual allowing an organization to present content in multiple languages using a single content base. A best practice is to leverage the same core content with localization where needed. Granular language controls and easy configurations allow an organization to precisely control where different languages should be applied.
Integration with other systems
A Knowledge Management System needs to be highly dynamic and leverage data and context from other systems. Many of our customers integrate their systems with existing IT tools, common CRM systems, and document management systems, for 360-context and federated content, where appropriate.
Knowledge reporting and analytics
Robust reporting and analytics within your software let you know how many people are using your knowledge, which information is most helpful, and if your customer service employees in the contact center or stores have the information they need to answer customer questions. Knowledge analytics is critical to optimizing the knowledge base and sustain its effectiveness over time.
A Knowledge Management System that collects feedback not only helps measure customer satisfaction, but it also helps employees report (often in realtime) which information is helpful and where updates need to be made. Feedback can be implicit, e.g., customer did not escalate to an agent, after seeing an answer, or explicit, that is, collected through surveys.
Can customer service agents update the knowledge base or publish new knowledge? Do their managers or subject matter experts need to review those maintenance updates? Best practices include not only implementing permission controls but also a robust workflow for knowledge review and approval, especially in regulated industries.
Subject matter experts, customer service agents, managers, and customers all need to access different sets of information. Permission controls make sure that the right information is available to the right audience.
Many of our customers have recognizable brands that garner significant customer trust. They’ve repeatedly told us that having consistent branding in their knowledge system interface and delivering brand-aligned experiences is key to reinforcing that trust and build on their brand equity even more.