There is an old saying that says, “Knowledge is power” and although many of us try to deny...
You’re a customer service agent and it’s 8:00 am in the morning and you sit down at your desk with a cup of coffee and login.
You’re greeted by 42 emails, 18 social media notifications, several people waiting in the live chat queue already and are sure that return policies recently changed, but you aren’t sure about the details yet.
If this sounds normal to you, that doesn’t mean it’s not a big problem for your agents and customers.
If your contact center has a wiki, CRM, shared drives, SharePoint and similar systems, your agents are currently both losing and wasting time. Do you remember the last article you read about the person who had dozens and dozens of animals crammed into a small apartment? That’s your contact center and data!
So how can agents escape the clutter and stop the flood of information that’s damaging service quality and employee satisfaction?
The most immediate step is to centralize all your support data into a single system (we’ll discuss quality and duplication later). As it stands, many support agents must switch between multiple software tools and systems to search for answers or to answer inquiries. This may be bouncing back and forth between email and social media or between the phone and live chat.
Juggling multiple communication channels has crept into contact centers over time and become the de-facto norm. However, many companies are finally waking up to what their agents have long realized, it’s bad for everyone and just plain doesn’t work!
Luckily, there’s knowledge management to the rescue! Independently of the vendor and software you ultimately choose, here are three tips for defeating information overload that will create better customer experiences, happier agents and ultimately boost many of your KPIs.
1 - Your Agents Need One Single Source of Truth
You can call it the customer service bible, your knowledge base or just the authoritative source for all your support data. But consolidating everything into a single software tool eliminates the uncertainty of where to find answers, not to mention saves a tremendous amount of time and effort wasted searching instead of solving.
Customer service is ultimately about providing the right information when it is needed. You can’t do that if you’re busy navigating a maze of systems. A knowledge management system is a tool for collecting, organizing and sharing knowledge. That may be documents, images or video and include related systems for learning and training.
At home, when we need an answer, we don’t hesitate or even think. We go to Google and search for it. At work, it should be the same with your knowledge base.
2 - Prioritize, Curate and Visualize your Data
Just because something exists, that doesn’t make it valuable. Humans are unable to process the massive volume of data nowadays and often fall back on saving everything “just in case.” The cost of storing information digitally may be near zero, but that doesn’t make it free. As the cost of digital storage has radically decreased, that cost has shifted to our time. Every time we cram more information into the system, it takes longer to find what we need the next time. And that effect is exponential!
Centralizing your data is the first step, followed by organizing it. It must then be audited so that unnecessary and duplicate data is deleted.
Finally, transforming long documents into interactive guides will speed up your service and reduce errors. Consider the case of a foreign permanent resident in the U.S. applying for a credit card. As you can imagine, there are many conditions, factors and potential complications to consider. Would you like to read through a 10-page document while on the phone?
How about turning that document into a simple decision tree that guides you through the data in bite-sized questions until you have the right solution for the request?
3 - Knowledge Management Never Ends
Because new data is created daily and existing information is always changing, knowledge management is a never-ending process. That requires supporting your editorial team and creating workflows within your knowledge management system.
Consider product data, sales and company policies. These things typically change yearly as new versions of products are released, seasonal sales come and go, and policies are updated. Would you like to manually remember or set an outlook reminder to review each document? How well do you think that will work? Or would you prefer to an automated workflow that flags articles for mandatory review after a certain period? What about setting expiration dates for documents (e.g. seasonal sales)?
In the customer service field, these features are simply must-haves. Otherwise, your agents will drown in the flood of data.
Is it time for you to consider a knowledge management system?
Get in touch!
Fabian joined USU in 2018 after completing his MBA at the University of Texas, Austin. Before that, he worked at Henkel, Porsche and Bosch with a focus on international sales and marketing. At USU, his focus is knowledge management and customer service solutions, particularly for contact centers and service departments. He lives in Boston.