6 ways of delivering successful knowledge management projects
In a more and more complex world, consumers are asking an increasing number of questions – and want fast, accurate answers, whatever channel they use to make contact on. Delivering consistent, accurate and compliant answers is at the heart of delivering the excellent customer service that they require, meaning that knowledge management has moved center stage, and therefore it should be an integral part of planning and deploying customer experience solutions.
The growing importance of knowledge management has been recognized in a new report by Kate Leggett of Forrester Research. She also points out that organizations looking to deploy knowledge management need to focus on four areas if they want their project to succeed:
1. Define your strategy
What is the strategic goal of deploying knowledge management? What is the problem that it primarily solves? For example, is it to empower agents on the phone channel so that they give more accurate answers and improve First Contact Resolution rates? (as was the case for warranty provider Domestic & General), or is it to reduce the time taken to answer incoming queries via email? Set clear objectives for the different stages of your knowledge management project so that you can find the right technology to meet your needs.
2. Define the part of knowledge in the customer journey
Will knowledge be used across the customer journey, and if so, how does it fit in today’s multichannel world? For example, if a consumer asks a question on your website and wants more detail after receiving an answer, how can they be escalated to an agent seamlessly? At the same time can you route customer questions that are asked on web forms through your knowledge base so that you avoid a consumer having to send an email at all? Some companies, such asL’Occitane en Provence, have added knowledge bases to their Facebook pages to make it simpler for consumers to answer their own questions, without needing to leave the social network.
3. Does knowledge need to be proactive?
Simple knowledge management systems provide a database of answers that agents and consumers can search by asking a question. Moving beyond this reactive knowledge, more advanced customer experience solutions are built on more intelligent, proactive knowledge software that analyses and understands the incoming language in a query (such as an email or tweet) and automatically provides a relevant template answer to the agent tasked with responding to it, ensuring the agent efficiently provides correctly branded and compliant answers.
Such systems can also understand the context of where a consumer is on the customer journey on the website and provide context-specific help and answers to enable them to move forward. This is obviously more efficient and further improves the customer experience.
4. Define your knowledge philosophy
The reason that many customer service knowledge management projects fail is that the system itself is not updated quickly or is not comprehensive enough. This then means that agents and consumers stop using the system as it no longer meets their needs. Therefore having a strategy for updating the knowledge base is critical, with companies needing to define how new information is added, how it is checked, and who is allowed to provide content. Rather than relying on a small group of knowledge managers for new content, it is vital to get updates from those on the frontline, so make it easy for agents to rate answers and give feedback.
Put in place a workflow that gets new content approved quickly, while ensuring it complies with any regulatory requirements in your industry. Demonstrate that feedback has been taken on board, for example by rewarding those agents that submit the most used answers. By getting agents and consumers onside, knowledge will continue to be updated and will always meet their needs.
I’d add two other areas to Kate’s list if you want to maximize your knowledge management success:
5. Get buy-in early from users
Agents may initially feel threatened and think that their experience is being replaced by software. So ensure you get them onside – for example by letting them name the system, setting up knowledge amnesty programs and by running workshops to discuss how it will operate. This is what the NHS Business Services Authority (NHS BSA) did with its Sherlock knowledge management project. The result was that agents felt it was very much ‘their’ system and was enabling them do their jobs more efficiently and be more helpful.
6. Share knowledge
Knowledge delivers best results when it is available across multiple departments and channels, rather being stored in silos across the organization. While a knowledge management project may begin with a single channel, look at how it can be extended to underpin customer service as a whole, as this further increases efficiency and delivers a seamless, multichannel approach. Also, the knowledge you have gathered can be useful to other departments, beyond customer service, such as logistics, returns or even accessed in-store by staff via tablets. Look at how it can beextended across the enterprise to deliver maximum value and usefulness.
Knowledge is key to providing the customer experience that consumers now demand. Therefore make sure you have a well-thought out strategy to manage it across your customer facing teams if you want to succeed in delivering the efficient, intelligent service that today’s customers require.