Knowledge Management as the Center of Customer Service

Customer Service
Customer Service
Providing customers access to information when they need it and how they want to access it powerfully enhances customer engagement.

So much is said about delivering world-class customer service and support. However, most initiatives fail because the customer service agent, or the self-service tools offered, don't provide enough information to resolve customers' issues. The key is having the capability to manage knowledge, entice people to share it, make it easy to author, and make it even easier for people to access.

If organizations spend time investing in knowledge resources, they can certainly make their agents more effective and deliver additional self-service tools. So, how can you make sure that your knowledge management initiatives succeed? The answer lies within your processes, which include working to develop a knowledge strategy; converting existing, already used/proven content into more highly valued knowledge; creating more knowledge that is unique to your firm's products and services; and, finally, maintaining that information over a given time period.

The first step to making knowledge management the center of customer service is providing support agents and self-service users with the necessary tools. Both groups should have access to the same knowledge base, where information is consistent and designed to provide proper context and details for any specific inquiry.

The next step is to transfer appropriate knowledge. According to a recent Forrester Research report, while the transfer of knowledge is a process, it does not have to be a difficult one: "Knowledge transfer is simple - take knowledge from one (or multiple) brain(s) and transfer it to another (or multiple) brain(s). The challenge today is that the culture of the organization determines the degree to which knowledge is transferred. Informal knowledge transfer occurs when the culture of the organization values knowledge transfer and, as a result, there is an increased level of learning and sharing of knowledge within the company. Conversely, formal knowledge transfer occurs when explicit knowledge (information, details, data, instructions, or other types of resources) is captured and stored so that it can be leveraged by others who want or need it."

In addition to converting existing knowledge, creating new custom knowledge is important to driving your initiative. Knowledge success begins by combining existing and organizational content. Companies must also be able to identify knowledge gaps and the expiration of current knowledge in order to build and manage their own content on a daily basis.

According to the same Forrester report, "Once the strategy and owners are determined, the next critical step is to determine how knowledge is collected, maintained, stored, retrieved, and archived. This step is critical because the information's freshness and usability determine the usage of the actual knowledge. Ongoing improvement of this process by an owner is essential to support the ongoing knowledge management usage and process."

This means that having an internal champion, or owner, is imperative to maintain your success rates and to improvethe effectiveness of yourknowledge and your agents.

Measuring your developments is also central to determining success. Make sure to have flexible and reliable analytics in place that will allow you to measure the effectiveness of your knowledge initiative. In evaluating these tools, search for ones that do just that: turn data about your knowledge usage into information so you can quickly act on it. This information should be constantly monitored bysomeone who will leverage it to help reviseyour knowledge management strategy and content whenever necessary.

If you take these steps to managing knowledge as the center of customer service, you will immediately notice a number of benefits. These include an increase in productivity, improved customer satisfaction, an increase in profitability, and many more.

Providing your customers access to the information they need, when they need it, and how they want to access it enables them to engage with your brand in a powerful way. This delivers an increasingly positive customer experience. In addition, with easy to use knowledge management platforms, and a fully customizable portal, service agents become more effective and less frustrated, closing customer cases quicker and easier. This will result in an increase in productivity.

Providing a consistent knowledge base, using the content that is contained within the system, creating customized content, and maintaining the knowledge are key elements to drive the success of customer service initiatives. By doing so, any organization will see an increase in productivity, profitability, and an overall improvement in customer satisfaction.

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About the Author: Jeff Weinstein is president and CEO of RightAnswers, on Twitter at