Three little words have turned enterprise knowledge management, and specifically information and knowledge related to customer service, on its head in recent years: "Just Google It." A recent study from Fleishman-Hillard found that 89 percent of consumers go directly to business websites or turn to Google, Bing, or another search engine to find information on products, services or businesses before any human to human interaction takes place, if it ever does.
With the rise of search, brand transparency and agile channeling, corporate knowledge can no longer be contained within an organization's pre-determined boundaries; it must become an infinite, available and ever-evolving resource. Here are five keys to successfully delivering on an enterprise knowledge management strategy for customer service and support.
1. Internal Collaboration
While many organizations have doubled their content marketing efforts and budgets over the past few years, it isn't always the case that customer service content has received equal attention. Perhaps it's simply a difference in terminology. While "content marketing" turns heads, "enterprise knowledge management" is typically met with an indifferent stare and so a brand's FAQ pages and knowledgebase sit idle for months without being updated while blogs and social media pages continuously produce and promote new content.
It's easy to make the case, however, that customer service content deserves an organization's equal attention, because improving the quality and frequency of service and support content produces many of the same results as mainstream content marketing including better SEO positioning, positive brand reputation, and increased consumer engagement.
The best customer service content starts not only with a quality KB solution that includes workflow, versioning features, and the ability to see what content's most searched for and used, but also with an organized system of internal collaboration. Optimally, while many SMEs and CSRs within an organization should collaborate to suggest and produce raw customer service and retention content, there should be a focused KB team that works together to refine this content, and then one or a few knowledge managers (depending on the size of the organization) to ensure all content published for consumption is in a consistent voice and format, is well organized, and contains relevant keywords for search purposes.
2. External Collaboration
Sometimes your best content editors are often your best customers. Make features available in your public-facing knowledgebase so that customers can not only rate content, but add comments as to what they found helpful or not, and what may be missing.
Communities and a brand's social media properties can also be used to improve customer support content. With social media and community monitoring tools, knowledge managers can bring in informative customer-to-customer Q & A and add frequently asked questions with their correct answers to the knowledgebase.
3. Agile Distribution
Even the highest quality content has no real value unless your customers are able to find it. According to a recent Ovum study of more than 8,000 consumers, 74 percent now use at least three channels when interacting with an enterprise for customer related issues, which is why your customer-facing content must not only be accessible via your corporate website, but must also consistently convey across your social media properties, mobile apps, and other customer service channels of convenience.
The other must is search indexing. Within the past two years, the number of Google searches on mobile devices has grown by 500 percent; and by 2016, mobile searches will overtake PC searches for local search, according to Google Our Mobile Planet Smartphone Research. To remain competitive, an organization's content must be everywhere, and ideally, in multiple languages.
On the flipside of the content coin, making information and answers available to your CSRs is equally important. Having customers come into a support conversation armed with more product or service knowledge than the service rep is unfortunate, but through the power of search, it's happening more and more. A recent Aberdeen multichannel customer service trends report notes that 57 percent of best-in-class customer service providers give their CSRs access to the company's resolution knowledgebase versus 41 percent of all others. For both self-service and full-service customer care, agile channel distribution of content to both customers and CSRs is key.
4. Channel-specific Formatting
If your organization's knowledgebase content is comprised of pdf documents or multiple pages of text devoted to one subject, you've just lost your connection with the growing number of mobile customers. Simplify or repurpose content to make it mobile-friendly, chat-friendly, email-friendly, and even social-friendly, and if you must present a great deal of content, use bolding to highlight the text that will be most useful to the customer trying to find quick and correct answers.
5. Context Development
While today's challenge is mastering the creation, organization, and distribution of knowledgebase content, tomorrow's is to incorporate context to help customers find the information and answers that are most relevant. Mastering context in addition to content ups the ante on self-service success and customer satisfaction.
So call it what you want—"knowledge" or "content" management—whatever you need to get your customer service content the attention it deserves. It's time to brush the dust off that corporate knowledgebase and realize its true potential. Content is king, every facet of it.