Overcoming the knowledge challenges in customer experience
In today’s fast moving economy, businesses rely on knowledge in all formats to drive their operations. In this digital world we know more and more about our customers and their needs, and successful organizations use this to deliver an improved, consistent and faster customer experience that builds customer satisfaction, loyalty and increases revenues.
However, creating a knowledge base to help the business and its customers’ is not easy, particularly when it comes to customer service. Organizations often have poor mechanisms to collect and share the information they have on customers, their products, services and processes. We’ve all had the experience of speaking to a customer service agent or someone instore about a new product and being met with blank looks or a lack of understanding. The reason is that knowledge hasn’t been collected and shared across the organization and across all channels, leading to a silo-based approach that impacts the overall experience. And this extends both ways – often staff will have incredibly valuable knowledge within their heads or in a myriad of systems and yet there are no ways of sharing this with the wider business.
Companies therefore need to look at adopting a single, centralized knowledge base that brings together information and makes it available across every channel, to everyone that needs it. For this strategy to work it needs to overcome three key challenges:
1. Information scattered
In most businesses information is collected and used on a departmental or channel basis. This means it is siloed in different systems, only available to specific members of staff or in a specific format and leading to an inconsistent, piecemeal approach. The answer that a customer receives varies depending on how they make contact, or even who they speak to, leading to confusion, a poor experience and higher costs (repeat contact from customers as well as maintaining multiple systems). Customer satisfaction scores fall, and agents often have to escalate queries as they simply don’t have answers to even the most basic questions.
2. Information is untrustworthy
Businesses today are constantly changing, adapting to customer needs, offering more products and services meaning that even the best information can quickly become out of date, if it is not updated regularly. The result? Agents simply don’t trust the answers they are given, and therefore don’t use the knowledge management system, preferring to rely on other methods, such as personal notes or asking colleagues. This is a vicious circle – the knowledge management system doesn’t get updated or used, and therefore the information in it becomes more and more obsolete. To combat this, companies need to ensure that they have a system that is not only easy to use, but can be updated by staff so that it is always meeting their changing needs.
3. No one knows what information is important
Analyzing what customers are asking is crucial to businesses on a number of levels. It demonstrates what they are interested in, and where there are gaps in your processes or channels that need to be filled. For example, if 90% of the questions you receive are about how to install a particular product, it is clear that the installation manual is not doing its job. However, organizations that use static FAQs or paper-based knowledge systems have no way of knowing who is asking what, and when. By installing a centralized knowledge management system, you can analyze which answers are being accessed most often, broken down by channel, and therefore see what needs improvement. Analytics also let you see which agents are contributing most to the system in terms of suggested answers or queries, and it can support newer members of staff by giving them access to the knowledge of their peers in a consistent, easy to access manner.
Putting in place a centralized knowledge management system not only overcomes these three challenges but it delivers four tangible benefits:
1. Greater efficiency/productivity
By providing staff with fast access to consistent, relevant answers your knowledge base improves their productivity. Rather than searching around for the right information they can find it first time, meaning they can be more efficient. This is particularly true with systems powered by linguistic technology – these can automatically scan incoming digital queries (such as emails or social media messages), and suggest relevant template answers from the knowledge base, further reducing answer times meaning staff can process more customer enquiries
2. Faster, better service
By putting information at every agent’s fingertips, knowledge management enables them to improve the service they provide. They can deliver confident, consistent answers to queries without having to escalate calls, put customers on hold or call them back. This leads to reduced call times, shorter queues and the chance to do more with existing resources. By embedding escalation points within knowledge base content, agents can automatically trigger workflows across the company, for example to start the process of sending out a replacement product or starting a new service, further enhancing the experience.
3. Greater consistency
If customers don’t believe the answer they have been given is right or if it is unclear they will make contact again. This leads to low First Contact Resolution (FCR) rates, increased customer frustration and greater strain on contact center resources. By delivering consistent answers from the centralized knowledgebase FCR is greatly increased, benefiting both customers and the company.
4. Better for agents
Access to information empowers agents and makes their jobs easier. The improved experience can reduce churn rates and increase employee satisfaction as they don’t have to struggle to find the information they need to respond to customers. It also reduces training time as agents are supported with knowledge, speeding time to value for new starters.
These are just some of the benefits of knowledge management within your contact center – in future blogs I’ll give some best practice tips on creating and running your project and examples of high profile organizations where they have seen major benefits in both efficiency and service levels.