November 29, 2011
Step 8 of my 10-step program on how to master your service experience is to tame your knowledge problem.
A good knowledge program is one of the foundational elements of a good service experience. Many informational requests can be easily handled using a simple FAQ, which deflects calls from your contact center and keeps your customers satisfied with relevant answers. Agent knowledge that is the same across communication channels guarantees that your customers receive consistent and accurate answers.
But getting your arms around your knowledge assets and maintaining them is hard work. I use a six-step best-practice framework to get you going with knowledge management:
- Align the organization for success. To be successful, you need an executive sponsor who will fund your knowledge program and allocate resources to the effort. You also need to put together a project team, follow proper project management practices, and define a rollout and adoption strategy.
- Design a framework for knowledge management. Knowledge base content must be easy to find and use. Before starting to create content, you need to determine usage roles, content sources (i.e., what content lives inside the knowledge base and what content lives outside of it but is accessible via knowledge base searches), content standards, and information architecture and localization requirements.
- Create and maintain usable knowledge. Knowledge base content must be fresh, usable, and contain the “right” number of solutions so as to not overwhelm the user. You need to create content using the user’s vocabulary. You need to determine who will author your content — front-line agents or technical writers — and you need to deploy authoring workflows that are flexible so that new content can be added quickly.
- Empower customers with relevant content. A good web self-service site must be usable, personalized, include guidance to the right content, and allow escalation to alternate contact channels such as chat, email, and click-to-call. It must never be a dead end.
- Focus on the agent experience. An agent's knowledge base must be personalized to his role, allow access to contextual knowledge, and be integrated with case management tools for operational efficiencies.
- Continually improve knowledge management practices. Your knowledge base is never complete. You need to run usage reports to understand what content is being used and determine what to do with content that is not used (Delete it? Archive it?). You need to solicit feedback from your agents and customers that use your content, and set up feedback loops within your organization to act on the feedback received.
Knowledge management is not a project that has a clear end. It is an ongoing program within a customer service organization that has to be resourced and funded for the long term. How many of you have a knowledge program within a customer service organization?