Contact centers are today the preferred and prevalent way for many organizations to communicate with their customers. Perhaps the greatest challenge of running a contact centre is to ensure that customers are provided with the right information in a timely fashion. Knowledge management has a number of practical tools and strategies to meet this challenge.
Importance of Knowledge Management in Contact Centers
During the interaction between customers and contact centers through all the possible channels, organizations could gather lots of information, which could be analyzed to meaningful knowledge.
In this regard, three different kind of knowledge that could be gained by contact centres through the interaction with customer would include
- Knowledge for customers is required in customer relation processes to satisfy knowledge needs of customers. Examples include knowledge about products, markets and suppliers.
- Knowledge about customers is accumulated to understand motivations of customers and to address them in a personalised way. This includes customer histories, connections, requirements, expectations, and purchasing activity.
- Knowledge from customers is knowledge of customers about products, suppliers and markets.
Managing Knowledge in Contact Centers
There are different sets of factors involved in process of managing knowledge in contact centers.
Knowledge Acquisition: Acquisition involves bringing knowledge into an organisation from either internal or external sources. The creation of new knowledge may be accomplished in several ways. There are five steps in the knowledge processing chain: gathering; organising; refining; representing; and disseminating.
First, internal knowledge may be combined with other internal knowledge to create new knowledge. And secondly, information may be analysed to create new knowledge. This is adding value to information so that it is able to produce action. For call centers, sources of acquisition has no limits; it could be from other superiors, customers, advertisements, magazines, newspapers, television, etc.
Knowledge Utilization: To deliver a consistent, quality end-user experience that improves the organisation’s image, perception and value proposition, the contact center must utilise knowledge repeatedly. Otherwise, the customers might just go elsewhere. To deliver against committed service-levels, the organization must get the maximum return from deployed resources and investments before the demand overburdens supply and causes frustrated customers and professionals.
The value proposition, therefore, is to create knowledge that is usable and scalable. This means the more people that use it regularly to solve their problems or answer their queries, the more valuable it is.
Knowledge Adaptation: Knowledge always leads to changed behaviour wherein the contact center agents have to modify their action with experience. An optimised knowledge delivery process leverages the natural inputs and interactions involved in identifying and resolving a question, quickly and effectively bridging the gap between what a customer or support agent knows and the best information available at any point to satisfy the evolving context of the question. An optimised knowledge development process provides inherent input to expand and extend the system to meet evolving business needs, both by stimulating content creation and by providing visibility into customer and product trends.
Knowledge Distribution: The primary goal of knowledge management for contact center agents must be to effectively disseminate knowledge from central management, out to all branches and centres. The focus is on communicating knowledge, whereby the agents take on the updated information and processes being disseminated. The knowledge must be disseminated in a form that is tailored for the specific needs of front-line staff, which means brief, concise and clear communications.
Knowledge Generation: The process of knowledge generation draws extensively from the existing knowledge base, i.e. transformation of explicit, tacit and cultural knowledge to new knowledge. Either the management should have thorough knowledge of the problem or the solution may also be found by the contact center agent—both are types of knowledge generation.
Once a solution has been found and implemented successfully, the new knowledge can be made available organisationally by the management. Such practice will enable continual shift in the culture within an organisation as new knowledge is diffused in an organisation.
Features of Knowledge Management Software in Contact Centers
Search Function: The search function on a knowledge base enables advisors to type a few keywords relating to what they want help with into a search bar and relevant materials will appear.
Content can also be found in folders that are stored in the knowledge base, but optimising the search functions helps to save valuable time.
To improve the search, the knowledge base will likely include filters, so that advisors can find what they are looking for more quickly – whether that is direct answers to customer queries or guides and relevant policies.
Content can also be found in folders that are stored in the knowledge base, but optimising the search bar functions helps to save valuable time.
Navigational Aids: In addition to the search function, there are navigational aids within the knowledge base, with the most common being search filters. The filter function helps because sometimes contact center agents would not know what to search and they will be slightly confused about the customer’s question. So, knowledge bases have filters that can be used as a primary way of getting information or, more commonly, as a method of narrowing down search results.
Authorship Tools: Authorship tools provide key information about each knowledge article that is stored within the knowledge base. These tools not only make it clear who the author of the piece of knowledge is, but they also provide with other useful information, such as when the knowledge article expires and who has reviewed the information.
It is good to set an expiry date so when a piece of knowledge does expire, the knowledge base can then prompt the knowledge manager or a knowledge owner to review the article to check if it is still relevant. Also, by having a clear view of who has reviewed the knowledge, the team can ensure that the information has been double-checked – improving the quality of content of the knowledge base.
Knowledge Ratings: Contact center agents need to know that they are passing the most valuable information on to customers, so giving them the opportunity to rate the knowledge is key. With this in mind, all knowledge bases use a “like” function, which enables advisors to “like” any knowledge that they believe has benefited a conversation they had with a customer.
It is really important to track the usage of knowledge, and almost every system will provide agents with the chance to feedback on how relevant it is. Use the feedback to identify gaps and trends in topics within your knowledge base to continuously improve it – finding areas where more knowledge is needed or some knowledge needs to be removed.”
More advanced systems can generate KPIs that will give you even more insight, but even with a simple “like” function, you can factor in these scores when advisors use the search – to bring the most liked content to their immediate view.
Forums: As well as searching and liking, almost all knowledge bases will have a space for contact center agents and managers to communicate with one another. While you may have other communications systems for this, having a forum within the knowledge base is a useful tool. The ability for any user at any time to give open feedback, both positive and negative, is critical. For example, if the agent found a key gap in the knowledge base and wants to bring that to attention, they need a place to voice that.
In addition, the forum is helpful in monitoring the knowledge that is passed from one agent to another. This is because myths are often spread about how best to serve a customer that, while in the best interests of the agent, may damage the customer experience. It also helps to encourage discussion that improves performance. Having ways to involve agents more actively in the entire evolution of content creation is great because it gets them invested in supporting others in their team and helps to build a learning culture.
Benefits of Knowledge Management Software
Some of the key benefits of knowledge management software would include
Ensuring Consistency of Information: If agents from different channels are using the same knowledge base, they are passing the same information to customers. This helps to create a consistent tone of voice for the brand.
Supporting Advisor Training: Training materials and other guides can be stored within the knowledge base, helping to reinforce agent learning. It can also speed up their “time to competence”.
Improving Advisor Effectiveness: With a knowledge base that is easy to search, agents spend less time finding information and more time supporting customers, which is also great for reducing dead-air time.
Limiting Transfers: If agents have all the information necessary to handle queries in one handy place, the chance that they will have to reroute the contact is lowered, which helps to improve the customer experience.
Managing Knowledge Base Software Better
The best practices to improve how organizations would store knowledge base would include:
Develop a set style guide: Everyone should agree to this upfront and the guide should cover everything from the style of the content, how you are going to title content and the right fonts to use. One needs to get to a point where an agent knows immediately that if something is in italics they should read it to the customer or if it is bold they should click etc.
Involve end-users in the creation of the content: Nobody knows the processes better or how to simplify content better than an experienced contact centre agent, who takes the same call types day-in and day-out. So, the organization would want to have your experienced agents sitting side-by-side with people who have good journalistic skills, to create high-quality content.
Cut the content back as much as possible: Some organisations can really try to force too much information into an article, to cover every possible scenario. But it is better to leave the basic steps of performing the task and if the agent needs more information they can click elsewhere.
Create enough time to focus on the content: Generally, organisations will set a date for when they want the new knowledge base installed by. But as the authors get closer to the deadline they realise that they are not going to hit the deadline so they start copying and pasting old content across. This can cause major issues further down the line, so be wary of managing time.
Focus on the most important content first: If you have a thousand pieces of content in your old system, do not try to rewrite the whole 1,000. Instead, focus on the top 100 first, get it tested and live, then look into the next couple of hundred and so on. By doing this, you will see the benefits quicker and find any issues with the content very quickly.
The criticality of knowledge management in a contact center environment is realized optimally with solutions that allow for omni-channel quality management and workforce optimization. VAANI is one such ideal solution and to learn more about VAANI.