The phrase “knowledge is power” typically applies to individuals but in recent years, as competitive advantage moved to frontline customer engagement, knowledge has enabled business differentiation by enabling companies to guide customers through their journeys and customer-facing personnel as they hand-hold customers to their destinations.
How can the business maximize the value of knowledge for customer engagement and ultimately market power? Here are six best practices that have emerged over time.
1. Increase findability through multiple search methods
One of the biggest roadblocks to unlocking business value from knowledge bases is the inability to quickly find information at the point of customer engagement.
Customers prefer different ways of finding information, or the same customer may use different methods, depending on the situation. Multiple search methods improve knowledgebase adoption, customer and agent experience and ROI. For instance, novice agents and casual users may find it difficult or unappealing to process hundreds of keyword search hits to find answers, but may fare better if they are “hand held” through a guided dialog. On the contrary, experienced agents may prefer to power through simple keyword search, which lacks in intelligence.
Provide users with multiple ways to access information-FAQ, browse, keyword search, natural language search and guided help, and allow them to hop across these methods in their journeys just like a GPS allows drivers to take any path they want—sometimes freeways, sometimes avoiding them and sometimes a mix—all during the same trip!
2. Leverage the knowledge base across agent-assisted channels, languages, and self-service
common mistake organizations make is to build knowledge bases dedicated to specific interaction channels, creating disparate knowledge silos that lead to content and process inconsistencies. For instance, when customers contact a business through email and then through the phone or even two service reps through the same channel, they often receive different answers or different fulfillment processes. Recent “mystery shopping” research showed omnichannel and multiagent service consistency to be the areas of worst performance among North American enterprises. While this is a problem, it also represents a great opportunity for businesses to differentiate themselves by designing and delivering smart, connected journeys based on a unified customer engagement platform – called the “customer engagement hub” by Gartner. A unified omnichannel knowledge base should be an essential part of the hub, functioning as a GPS to move customers (and the agent) forward in their journeys. An added benefit of this approach is reduced Total Cost of Ownership (TCO). TCO can be further reduced by implementing a single knowledge management platform with support for multilingual content and user interfaces.
3. Leverage the knowledge base for revenue and compliance
While knowledge bases help increase the effectiveness and efficiency of customer service, powerful knowledge management technologies such as reasoning engines not only help troubleshoot customer problems through a dialog but also help cross-sell and up-sell at the point of customer engagement. This not only makes the job more interesting for agents, but also adds to topline revenue, further extending KVA. Moreover, a reasoning engine that is integrated with workflow can guide agents through interaction and service fulfillment processes that are compliant with industry regulations and organizational best practices.
4. Foster crowdsourcing, but with robust quality control
Customers often possess valuable knowledge and expertise they share with fellow customers through online communities and social networks. While this can organically and cost-effectively grow the knowledge base, make sure you implement quality control mechanisms to “vet” the content before publishing it as part of your own trusted knowledge base. This requires comprehensive workflow capabilities in your knowledge management system.
5. Implement workflows for adaptive content management
Content relevance is one of the keys to maximizing KVA. If the content does not help agents resolve customer queries or guide them in helping to move a purchase forward, agents (and end-customers in the case of self-service) will quickly stop using the system. Sophisticated knowledge management systems can measure content effectiveness (e.g. frequency of content usage, explicit and implicit assessment of content effectiveness, escalation rates, etc.), trigger content creation and maintenance tasks, and assign them to individuals with service levels attached to them to ensure timely refinement and enhancement.
6. Take a 360 degree approach to quantifying KVA
Metrics such as reduction of average handle times and increase in first contact resolution are commonly used to assess KVA. However, make sure you also include less obvious metrics such as the following:
- Reduction of unwarranted site visits and product returns through effective problem resolution by contact center agents
- Reduction of agent training requirements
- Reduction of agent overhead by doing more with less skilled agents
- Sales conversion
Knowledge management can deliver breakthrough KVA for the customer engagement center and the enterprise, when implemented with a holistic approach that includes multichannel and multirole leverage, solution capabilities in key areas like omnichannel integration and findability, traditional and innovative business uses, adaptive content management and a 360 degree approach to benefit assessment.