Gaining Benefits of Knowledge Management for Customer Service

“Today knowledge has power. It controls access to opportunity and advancement.” – Peter Drucker

There is possibly no better way to describe the benefits of knowledge management for a company, than the quote above. For a business, coupled with speed, particularly in customer service it plays a vital role to ensure long-term customer satisfaction, leading to loyalty. A company and its representatives that appear knowledgeable would be easier to trust and like – two prerequisites of top class customer service. The fact is customers no longer settle for anything but the best – speedy and accurate information is one such aspect – they demand all of it, and with so many competitors, companies just have to comply.

The benefits of knowledge management come to the fore even more forcefully when some of the statistics are considered. Research reveals that at least 65% customers expect that they would receive a resolution to their problems the first time. 62% of customers believe that knowledgeable employees  are among the top three most important aspects of top class customer service, and at least 50% said that they would allow any company only about a week to respond to a query, post which they would definitely stop doing business with it. Through a robust knowledge base and consistent management of it, delivering high and timely customer service becomes a lot simpler. It has become imperative for companies to move from the traditional methods of creating and maintaining a knowledge base, and move towards digitization in order to truly gain from the many benefits of knowledge management. We have spoken at length in a previous exposition about the many tools and techniques now available to companies through which they can put together and maintain a centralized, easily accessible, and readily useable knowledge base for their customer service and other aligned teams.

Companies that quickly adapt to changing market conditions, and keep pace with customer demands are more likely to succeed, as compared to the ones that hold on to ‘tried and tested’ methods. There is no doubt that there are several benefits of knowledge management for customer service. To begin with it improves the efficiency of the service agents, making them appear more intelligent and hands-on with regard to the company, industry, and the needs of the customers. Through using the knowledge base, the agents do not need to rely on memory or engage in guesswork, which in turn translates to consistency of information and service to customers. A digitized and centralized knowledge base is easily updated, which keeps the information relevant and reliable such that the service agents would be confident while passing it on to the customers. As mentioned, consistently accurate and speedy responses translates to creating positive experiences for customers, which over time leads them to trust and loyal feelings for the company. Loyal customers, we know, prove to be profitable and helpful in gaining new business for a company. Additionally, for a company, another of the benefits of knowledge management is lowered costs of service since there would be less issues, complaints, and call volumes for its service agents to deal with. All these factors together, ensure optimized and memorable customer experiences.

To ensure that your company gains the maximum benefits of knowledge management, the main thing to remember would be to create an effective, practical, and user-friendly knowledge base. It should be easily adaptable, scalable, and simple to update, in order for it to remain effective even when there may be significant changes / increase in the company’s customer base and or internal procedures. The knowledge base, to be effective, must have information that is articulate, lucid, and written from the perspective of the users. It must help the service agents to understand industry and company jargon, such that they would be in a better position to help customers and each other to understand the information better.

Maintaining a knowledge base should mean that the customer service agents are able to provide clear and professional responses to customers, irrespective of the channel through which they do so. Standardized templates and self-help techniques would ensure that each service agent, and others that use the knowledge base, respond using consistent language and tone, even while tailoring their responses for each customer. Customers feel assured and confident when dealing with such a company, and are more likely to return with business, and get others to engage in business too.

In order to gain from the benefits of knowledge management, the centralized base of this ‘knowledge’ must remain organized at all times. Each company could have a different method of ensuring that the customer service agents (and others that need the information) are able to find the most relevant and helpful information speedily. Depending on the nature of business, and or response types, a company could ‘classify’ the information such that agents know exactly what and where to search when  required.

One of the most critical factors in the success of a knowledge base is that it should be easy to update. However, in order to prevent too many people from adding content that may not be relevant to the system, there must be permissions and restrictions in place, especially for new customer service agents. All the information that goes into the knowledge base must be thoroughly checked for accuracy, relevance, and useability. This protects the quality and ‘sanctity’ of the system, thereby ensuring that all the information contained would be beneficial to the company and its customers.

In order to gain optimal benefits of knowledge management through the base of information, it must have a provision to capture customer responses and feedback too. This will ensure that the knowledge base has information based on what customers expect, want, and need – ensuring that the service the company provides enhances in relevance for the target audience. Customers, we know, are great sources of knowledge and insights, and smart companies constantly tap into this ‘source’ to improve their service, products, and business operations. Amongst the many benefits of knowledge management, delivering knowledge to customers at the right time is a critical factor to the success of each interaction, and over time delivers quantifiable and solid results – customer loyalty being one of the most important.

For a company, a reliable knowledge base would help it to sustain a high percentage of first call resolutions (FCRs), that would over time result in significant cost savings. FCRs are extremely high on the list of customer priorities, which means that a company that consistently delivers it would see enhanced business, lowered complaints and churn, and a rise in the number of referrals that existing customers provide. As a company’s reputation for meeting customer expectations enhances, so does its market value. This in turn makes it attractive for a larger customer base, the best talent in the market, investors, and other stakeholders – all keen to associate with such a company. Investing in a knowledge base and the training of employees, are two of the best ways to gain maximum benefits for the company both in the short and long term.

If your company has invested in a knowledge base system, it makes sense that it should gain the benefits of knowledge management for customer service and all the aspects of the business. Take a closer look the knowledge base of your company, and evaluate whether your business is reaping the benefits, or whether you need change things in order to gain the optimal benefits.

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