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Why does knowledge management matter?

Published on 03 August 2022

Why does knowledge management matter?

Since the start of the pandemic, the digital shift and pace of change has been huge; we are seeing years of progress in just weeks. Moreover, a new generation has entered the workforce, used to mobile apps and social channels. They know how to meet needs in a different way, which matches customer behaviour (as multichannel journeys become far more normal). We need to train and support our people like this, and effective knowledge management helps you do that. It’s good for productivity too, as clients typically see fewer escalations (externally or internally), training times down by a third, and double-digit savings on AHT.

What is knowledge management?

Systems like SharePoint publish and store long-form documents (eg Word or PDF), generally for internal staff. They may contain everything you could ever want to know, and a lot more besides! There is some ‘management’, but no defined focus on information being easy to use or apply. Because there is so much detail, and a poor search experience, such systems are expensive to maintain, time consuming and difficult to use. Knowledge Management, by contrast, is very focussed. You can ask a specific question that gets a relevant, accurate and up-to-date answer, rather than look for page 30 in a 100-page document or manual. This makes it usable ‘in the moment’.

Key features of a great system

Successful Knowledge Management is focussed on the key information needed. Relevant information needs to be clear, quick to access and not require extra training time. It targets specific user requirements. Here are some key functions to consider.

  • Alerts. Very useful, via the homepage (to see what’s been updated, what’s new) or in context (eg within a process). There are more changes than ever, but less time for doing this via traditional briefings. Move away too from trawling through emails or long documents.
  • Tracking. As a manager, can I track who has seen or understood this material. This enables individual follow-up, drives consistency, and makes possible two-way communication. Legacy comms approaches lack this (eg emails or team briefs).
  • Search. Error rates drop when you cut ‘time to find’ and grow ‘usage rates’, so measure these. You don’t want people searching long-format documents or needing to get the right keywords to search for.
  • Personal tone. Can I use my phrasing, of my customers, without having to mentally translate that on the fly? If ‘update’ means the same as ‘change’ configure the system to do the translating for you.
  • Feedback. What’s the quality of the information? Is it relevant and trusted? So, encourage rating and feedback, as a way of tracking and be sure to drive prompt improvements. Measure it all, your system should have that functionality built in.
  • Multiple formats. As a single source of truth, your knowledge base may hold different answers/ formats for each audience/channel (internal & external). As an advisor, I can then help customers towards self-service in in the future.
  • Interactive Decision Tree. This is a great way for some people to grow confident with processes, especially if you build this into your new induction or up-skill programmes.

Intelligent real-time assistance

Increasingly we want knowledge to be contextually aware, and technology can now provide some really useful, relevant, real-time prompts provided. This means advisors can have their issues addressed pre-emptively, customers too, when knowledge is linked to self-service or bots. Some examples of this include:

  • Help the flow. Conversations are rarely a single question, and there may be many stages in the process. So, I want my next question pre-empted, with contextual next-step advice or guidance, which ultimately means automatically clustering content around key topics.
  • Process confidence. Prompts can be very well received where processes change a lot, you use them rarely, there’s a high error rate or risk, or they are just complex (especially for new people). Much better than lots of updates!
  • Navigation. With input from some simple prompts, we can help customers or advisors to navigate directly to the correct step of a process, without seeing unnecessary information or steps.
  • Machine Learning. Some systems can then learn from themselves what is useful and relevant to continually improve, with less reliance on keyword mapping or manual analysis and editing.

Continuous improvement and learning

With a skilled, central team, you can increase the quality of content to all your channels from a single point of accountability, ideally making knowledge simpler to manage, and edit, without IT skills. Audit tracking can help improve compliance. Success is about improving knowledge, and how it’s used, both internally in contact centres and the back office, and externally in website, mobile apps and via chatbots.

So, you need to understand what knowledge is used or not, and when and by whom. What isn’t working? What are people actually looking for? This way you can reduce total cost of ownership, and the time to change.

What’s more there’s been a definitive shift in the market, towards enterprise-wide efficiency, with knowledge as a service. Where in the past, benefits were in contact centres or help pages on the web (‘point audiences’), now we’ve got a rich history of flexible deployment into the back office, branches, and digital channels. We see clients looking to drive knowledge into every channel, every audience, and every technology that they have. This means integrating knowledge, covering multiple knowledge touchpoints, across different parts of the business and their partners, to drive consistency and efficiencies. There are three key areas of benefit to look for. Firstly, keep making knowledge easier to access and maintain, with fast, cognitive, accurate search (ideally from day one) and then simplifying processes and improving compliance. Secondly, look to lower costs, for example by reducing induction time or driving growth in customer self-service. Real-time analytics will allow you to drive continuous improvement. Finally, look to drive customer satisfaction and engagement.

Author: Matthew Young & John Bousfield from Verint

This article was first published in the 2022 Best Practice Guide - You Moment of Truth: Confident to Succeed

To download a full digital copy of the Best Practice Guide, click here

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