What is Knowledge Management?

Defining Knowledge Management

Knowledge management is normally defined as the process of creating, using, sharing, and managing the information in an organization. Knowledge management is also a set of practices to maximize the business value of an organization’s knowledge by gathering, maintaining, and delivering it at critical points in business processes.

  1. Types of knowledge
  2. Why knowledge management (KM)?
  3. What is a knowledge base (KB)?
  4. Building blocks of modern knowledge management
  5. Why knowledge management initiatives fail
  6. The eGain Knowledge Hub
  7. Novel production pilot to get going

1. Types of knowledge

Explicit knowledge is knowledge that can be readily articulated, codified, stored, and accessed. What you find in your enterprise knowledge base is mostly explicit knowledge. It can be a knowledge article, PDF, blogpost, video, user’s guide. Expertise that your contact center agents, authors, and leaders capture in the knowledge management system, or user posts harnessed from social media and communities are examples of explicit knowledge.

Tacit or Implicit
Some people make a distinction between tacit knowledge and implicit knowledge while others consider them to be the same. Tacit knowledge is the opposite of explicit knowledge. It is a kind of knowledge that is difficult to express to others by writing or using words. (Schmidt and Hunter, 1993). It is not tangible or codified or immediately shareable in words or documents. Tacit or implicit knowledge is normally associated with individual experiences and is difficult to transfer except maybe through observation and association. Knowing when the dough is perfectly kneaded is tacit know-how. Being able to tell what a customer needs to feel better in a customer service scenario can also be an example of tacit or implicit knowledge.

Informational Knowledge
This includes simple information such as a customer’s account balance, a retail store’s hours of operation, or the status of an order.

Transactional knowledge
This includes “how to” information on procedures, i.e., how to do something. Examples include how to set up autopay, how to return merchandise, etc.

Situational knowledge
This includes the knowhow to solve a customer’s problem by asking the right set of questions through in-flow conversational guidance and/or taking the right next steps in a process through in-flow process guidance. This kind of guidance requires the use of advanced technologies such as AI reasoning.

Pull knowledge
Pull knowledge is contextual knowledge served to customers on demand, i.e., when they ask a question.

Push knowledge/in-flow knowledge
Push knowledge is contextual knowledge pushed to customers in the course of their journeys to help them make progress in their journeys or to contact center agents as they interact with customers in the form of conversational (next best thing to say) and process guidance (next best steps to take).

Crowdsourced knowledge
Crowdsourced knowledge is gathered from a community of contributors. An example is a tech support community, consisting of knowledgeable members, which can be focused on a certain company, product, or topic. The upside is the ability to quickly tap into the expertise of a community or the “crowd” and the possible downside is the quality of content, which is even more important in highly regulated industries.

Curated knowledge
Knowledge that is scrubbed for quality, organized, and presented.

2. Why knowledge management?

When it comes to contact centers and customer service organizations, knowledge management is a critical—and often missing—technology piece.

Knowledge is the crucial missing piece in customer service

A. Important for the service experience

Here is what Gartner had to say:

Timely and contextual knowledge presented to agents in a clear and concise form is a pipe dream for most service environments, yet without it the service experience will always be in jeopardy… Knowledge is an underemphasized aspect of experience design and demands a higher prioritization.

Gartner analysts have previously cited knowledge management (KM) as the No 1 technology for enhancing the three main customer service perspectives of operational performance, CX, and employee experience.

We couldn’t have articulated the dire need for knowledge management any better!

Thought Leadership Best Practices Offer
7 best practices for knowledge management from Gartner

B. Consumer surveys reiterate the value of knowledge

Knowledge-related issues are the top deterrents to getting good customer service, according to a massive consumer survey, conducted by Forrester Consulting:

  • Different customer service agents give different answers (41%)
  • Customer service agents don’t know the answer (34%)
  • Can’t find answer on website (31%)

Not surprisingly, these issues are mirrored on the agent side.

65% of contact center agents cited knowledge-related issues as their top hassles in providing good service to customers, according to an eGain survey of contact center agents worldwide. No wonder 84% of contact center agents hate their desktop tools.
(Source: Gartner).

C. Importance of knowledge management

Done right, knowledge management can elevate the experiences of multiple stakeholders at the same time—customers, employees, business managers, and others. Specific to contact centers and customer service organizations, it can transform—not just improve—contact center metrics such as Net Promoter Score, First-Contact Resolution, Agent Time to Competency, Compliance, Average Speed to Answer, Consistency of Answers, and Agent Confidence in Answers.

3. What is a knowledge base?

A knowledge base is a centralized repository of knowledge in your enterprise.

The knowledge base software supports the creation, maintenance, and distribution of multilingual and multichannel knowledge. It provides users — customers, contact center agents, frontline staff, business stakeholders — easy access to answers through multiple search methods. The enterprise knowledge base ensures that your customers are getting, and the business is delivering, timely, consistent, accurate knowledge across channels and touchpoints.

More about the knowledge base

Search for informationHow do you find information in the knowledge base?


Search is an old-time tool still popular with people and providers. A search box in the front end is a simple UI to maneuver. It’s the technology behind the box that has gotten very sophisticated over the years with various access methods powering search and improving findability.

Virtual assistants or chatbots

Virtual assistants or chatbots are the cool automated way of finding the answer your website visitors are looking for. The chatbot is the first responder to a customer query, looking for information from one or more knowledge repositories, that then also is the guide transferring customers to agents for assisted help. Virtual assistants help agents similarly by listening to their interactions and suggesting answers.

AI-based guided help

This is a conversational, dialog-driven guidance that guides customers and prospects to the single right answer, whether it is a resolution or the next best step or a decision in a process. It is the differentiation that businesses need to thrive and delight.

4. Building blocks of modern knowledge management

While technology, process, people, and culture are all essential for KM success, technology matters in a big way as the world inexorably moves to digital and automation. The technology building blocks of a modern knowledge management system for the contact center include Machine Learning and AI reasoning, infused across the IVR, routing, and the customer service process, omnichannel content management, profiled access to content, search methods, including federated, faceted, and guided search, conversation guidance (next best thing to say), process guidance (next best thing to do), and analytics. For example, we use ML to refine intent understanding and AI reasoning to guide self-service systems and contact center agents through customer conversations.

5. Why do knowledge management initiatives fail?

Knowledge management got a bad rap in the past since many initiatives have failed over the years. There are many reasons for these failures, technology being just one of the reasons.

Typical experience with a knowledge management solution

Missing knowledge management causes confusionThe following are the most common reasons of failure:

  1. Trying to “boil the ocean” in terms of objectives and scope
  2. Taking an inside-out view on how customers might look for answers
  3. Missing one or more of the technology building blocks
  4. Cobbling together disparate building blocks of KM from multiple vendors, creating siloed content, context, and process chaos across touchpoints
  5. Relying on vendors that simply “check the box” in KM or do not possess domain experience
  6. Embarking on big iron projects with tool kits that make vague promises of transformation in the “next century”

6. The eGain Knowledge Hub

The Knowledge Hub™, a concept conceived by eGain in the context of enterprise knowledge management, is a unified approach that combines all the essential ingredients of knowledge management into one solution. Combined with the vendor’s domain expertise and proven success, it can help you avoid deterrents to knowledge success and create transformational business value.

No wonder Gartner has rated us #1 in knowledge-powered digital customer engagement automation!

Customer feedback

We have been an eGain customer for 2 years. The Advisor and Customer Experience benefits we expected are being over delivered. (A $10B financial services company that is an eGain Knowledge client, a Gartner Peer Insights review)

eGain Knowledge Hub includes these capabilities

  • Omnichannel content management
  • Profiled access
  • AI-driven conversational guidance
  • Interactive process flows
  • 360 context
  • Insights, powered by ML
  • Personalized widgets and portals

When Knowledge works, good things happen

  • A leading telco improved FCR by 37% and NPS by 30 points, while speeding up agent time-to-competency by 50% across 10,000 agents and even 600 retail stores.
  • A hyper-growth SaaS company improved agent confidence in answer by 60%, finding the right answer by 33%, speed to answer by 67% and consistency of answers by 62%.
  • A hyper-growth retailer deflected up to 90% requests for agent-assisted service with knowledge-backed virtual assistant
  • European telecom reduced unwarranted handset returns and exchanges by 38% through better problem resolution in the contact center, while enhancing agent experience by 90%.

7. Free production pilot to get going

Imagine having the opportunity to buy a new car with an expert sitting on your side and providing free guidance for 30 days and still being able to walk away from the car!  That goes beyond your traditional test drive. eGain offers a unique, no-charge production pilot—not a toy sandbox or a traditional paid pilot—to try out any of our solutions, knowledge hub included, for 30 days, with guidance for success from an expert. No other vendor has put such skin in the game. The program is called “eGain Innovation in 30 Days” for knowledge. If you’d rather start with a phone conversation with an expert, you can contact us to set up a meeting. We look forward to the conversation!

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