10 Tips to Strengthen Knowledge Management

Knowledge management for customer service has always been a difficult proposition. It's not that knowledge management fails to work; it does its job well, as proven by the numerous case studies that showcase real returns on investment as well as the maturity of vendor solutions. The historical difficulty with KM is that many users of this technology do one of the following:

  • They don't understand the difference between knowledge management and content management, and invest in the wrong technology;
  • They view knowledge bases as heavyweight technologies; or
  • They don't understand that knowledge management is not only about technology; it's about people and process as well.

According to Forrester Research, 73 percent of customers say that valuing their time is the most important thing a company can do to provide good service. A knowledge base empowers agents and customers with answers to customer questions. Modern knowledge management should include the following:

  1. Easy knowledge capture. You should be able to flag information from any source (chat transcript, call transcript, discussion forum thread, social media interaction) and kick it off to be included in your knowledge base.
  2. Easy findability. You should be able to search knowledge using natural language, or interact with a chatbot to help discover the right answer to your question. You should be able to see related content that other users found useful. Knowledge bases should include machine learning to make knowledge recommendations more accurate and precise.
  3. Multimedia content. Not all knowledge should be text-based. Knowledge can include images, videos, and audio files.
  4. Democracy. Everyone within an organization and customers as well should be able to recommend information to be included in the knowledge base.
  5. Flexible authoring environment. You must be able to create and publish content without arduous workflows. Not all content should be subjected to the same workflows. Some content must be able to be published instantly, for example a service alert. Other content should be able to be routed through review or legal compliance flows.
  6. Feedback. Anyone who comes into contact with content should be able to rate conteny and comment on content.
  7. Federated content. Knowledge should include discussion threads and content residing in other repositories (such as content management systems, bug databases etc).
  8. Collaboration. A certain segment of agents or customer-facing personnel should have the authority to change knowledge and republish it without arduous approvals.
  9. Links to process. Knowledge must be linked to case management processes, so contextual, personalized content can be pushed to the agen at the right point in the customer service interaction.
  10. Reports and analytics. You obviously need to understand content usage so you can evolve content in line with customer demand. However, you need to stay ahead of the curve. To do this, you also need to mine social sites out of your direct control and use text analytics to understand conversations that customers are having with customer service agents. You then need to use these insights to generate knowledge and push it out to your customer base to proactively deflect contacts from your contact center.

Use these capabilities as a guide to strengthen the foundations of knowledge management.

Kate Leggett is vice president and principal analyst at Forrester Research.