10 best practices for customer service knowledge management
Customer queries are becoming increasingly complex – and the information required to answer them is constantly evolving. That means a comprehensive, up-to-date, and widely accessible knowledge management system has never been more important to successful contact centre operations. It empowers agents, ensures customers receive faster responses, increases productivity, and enables customers to find their own answers via self-service, reducing costs. So, how do you ensure your customer service knowledge management programme is effective? Start by following these 10 best practices:
1. Get your people on-board
Often the knowledge you need is stored in the heads of your agents and other employees. Therefore, it’s crucial to capture this information and make it accessible for everyone. To kick things off get all your people involved with your knowledge management project. Start by clearly explaining to everyone what good knowledge management entails and why it is so important. Appoint knowledge champions to be responsible for knowledge on specific topics or areas. Build trust and reward people for their support, all the way through the project.
2. Go multichannel
Customers today want to find answers through multiple channels. To ensure consistency and to avoid duplicating effort support these channels with a single central knowledge base. While you may need to tailor answers for specific channels, the underlying message should be the same. For example, phone agents will need more detailed information than the shorter responses that are more appropriate to social media.
3. Put the spotlight on ease-of-use
Whatever the channel, knowledge must be easy to find and access. Signpost self-service clearly on your website so that customers know where and how to access the information they are looking for. Involve agents in the planning and design of your knowledge base to ensure that it meets their needs and allows them to access information easily. Some contact centres even run competitions to get agents to name their system, increasing their involvement, ownership, and engagement.
4. Match the format to the channel
The answers your knowledge base provides must be available in the right format and channel at the right time. An online visitor using website self-service should be able access videos on common challenges, along with how-to guides and FAQs. However, if they have complex problems a chatbot should be available to gather more details and provide further support. For a phone query on the other hand, an agent should have access to information from the chatbot session to save time, along with the full history of the customer’s interactions to date.
5. Maximise multimedia
Sometimes a picture – or video – is worth a thousand words. With people happier than ever using digital channels, and with higher bandwidth widely available video has become a mainstream technology. And it can be a great way to make customer service knowledge available. Think of how video can be effective in teaching customers how to operate appliances for example. Or how videos can help people when fixing an issue or completing a transaction such as setting up an account, or even to provide agent training. Customers are now quite comfortable having live video consultations with advisors as well as accessing pre-recorded videos as part of self-service.
6. Inject speed into the knowledge process
We live in an increasingly fast-moving world in which knowledge changes on a daily basis. Think of how stock levels change at a retailer and how interest rates change and impact the availability and requirements of mortgage products. You should therefore aim to shorten the time between identifying the need for a new answer, creating it, and publishing it. For example, monitor incoming digital channels to spot new issues arising from customer enquiries and use this to add new information or updates to the knowledge base.
7. Drive constant improvement with feedback
Monitor usage of your knowledge base to analyse what answers are most used. Do they actually meet customer requirements? Or do they then go onto make contact again via another channel, for example switching to the phone or email after trying self-service? Identify which answers aren’t used at all and try and find out why. Keep tabs on trends in new customer questions so that you can add appropriate answers to your knowledge base.
8. Extract customer insights from your knowledge base
Analyse the questions that customers ask and use it to inform your Voice of the Customer programme. This can provide early warning of problems or issues that customers are facing. Or it can highlight aspects of the customer experience that might need adjusting. For example, if you are repeatedly getting customer questions about the same issue, you can add that information to your website to make it clearer so that people don’t have to call or send an email.
9. Prioritise proactivity
Don’t wait for customers to ask questions, give them the answers based on the context of where they are on the customer journey or even the time of year. For example, in the run up to the festive season ecommerce sites should by signposting common answers, such as last ordering dates for Christmas, on their home page. Similarly, they should be highlighting advice on payment or delivery options at check-out so that people don’t have to interact with customer service unnecessarily.
10. Lean on AI
While managing a knowledge base can be resource-intensive it does deliver significant customer experience and efficiency benefits. AI can help you use knowledge more effectively and automate processes to ease the burden. For example, Natural Language Processing can help provide better answers to customer enquiries based on understanding the full question they’re asking. Customers can enter queries in everyday language with the AI automatically understanding what they’re referring to and providing the relevant information. It can also learn which answers work best and prioritise them if the same query comes up again.
Customer Service Knowledge Management
The need for effective knowledge management is growing – and it can make the difference between retaining or losing a customer. Therefore, ensure you focus on knowledge management best practice to deliver the benefits and increase the effectiveness of your customer experience.