Imagine calling a customer support hotline, and the representative knows your name, understands your previous interactions with the company, and can offer solutions tailored to your specific needs. This level of personalisation is made possible through Knowledge Management (KM).
By centralising customer data and interactions, companies can ensure that every touchpoint with a customer is informed by a deep understanding of their history and preferences. According to IBM, KM is the process of capturing, organising and leveraging an organisation’s collective knowledge and expertise. It involves collecting information, best practices, customer insights, and employee expertise and making this knowledge readily available to those who need it.
KM also refers to the range of software tools, solutions and platforms that facilitate the collection, storage and access of content and information. They allow different teams to share information and knowledge throughout the organisation. Nicola McDonald, Head of KM at Customer Driven Solutions, warns, “It’s one thing to say here’s our KM platform, but it’s a completely different story to actually make it work well. I have seen organisations who say – let’s take what we’ve got and put it into this new system. They then get surprised when it doesn’t work and immediately fix everything for them.”
“You have to make sure the content is up to date and relevant. Typically, organisations will have a dedicated knowledge management team that they can manage themselves or outsource to an external provider. You really need to have good design skills and a good understanding of how to make the most out of those tools”.
Creating a single source of truth
Customers interact with companies through various channels, including websites, mobile apps, social media, and in-person interactions. Knowledge management ensures that information and service quality remains consistent across all these touchpoints. McDonald comments, “Knowledge management has been around for quite some time. Initially, it was a solution that was centred around the contact centre or help desk to support agents servicing and interacting with customers. These days it is more about providing a single source of truth for the entire organisation, whether that’s for your contact centre, digital and online teams or for a chatbot.“
When harnessed effectively, knowledge management can be a game-changer in enhancing customer experience. McDonald says, “Businesses are starting to transform how they can use information across the entire organisation. By leveraging KM, customer support agents can access a comprehensive knowledge base that contains relevant product information, troubleshooting guides, frequently asked questions, and resolutions to common issues. This enables agents to provide first-call resolution to customer enquiries, leading to improved customer satisfaction and reduced resolution times”.
“This same access to information, however, can also be used to transform the way chatbots are working or the way digital teams are working to deliver the right information and piece of content at the right time to customers. These days, everyone is talking about creating a seamless and personalised omnichannel experience for customers. To deliver a true omnichannel experience for customers requires consistency of information across all communication channels and customer touchpoints.”
Building your KM system and procedures
Building a knowledge management system is an ongoing process that requires commitment and continuous improvement. It’s not just about technology; it’s also about people and processes. To establish your KM system there are various layers of complexity that need to be considered. McDonald says, “If you think about the contact centre; you need to have content that meets the needs of a range of user groups. You will have people in the contact centre who have been there for years and only need a small snippet of information, but on the other hand you will also have people who have just come out of training and need support from the start of the call through to the end. We don’t want to duplicate[LD1] the same information for both of these groups, so how do we design the content and use the KM tools well to deliver a great experience to everyone?”
“We are also then starting to consider servicing content to more channels outside of the Contact Centre, for example we have chatbots servicing information to our customers online, where is that getting its information? How can we leverage the information your Contact Center are accessing and design it for your Self-Service channels too? Building a knowledge management system (KMS) involves creating a structured framework that identifies your objectives and the needs of all relevant stakeholders. Plan for scalability from the beginning. As your organization grows, your KMS should be able to handle increased data and user loads”.
Empowering self-service with AI
The ability to offer self-service to customers has been a key driver for organisations to implement KM. Numerous studies have demonstrated that most customers prefer to solve issues themselves before contacting a service representative. According to one survey by Zendesk, 67% of customers prefer self-service over speaking to a customer service representative. So, not only is offering an enhanced self-service experience critical to customer satisfaction, it also eliminates the need for customers to call the contact centre.
Knowledge management is crucial for self-service platforms such as FAQs, online forums, chatbots, or interactive knowledge bases. By structuring and organising knowledge effectively, organisations can create self-service portals that offer intuitive and user-friendly experiences. Customers can find answers to their queries independently, without the need for human assistance, leading to faster resolutions and improved customer convenience.
Applying the capabilities of generative AI promises to have a profound impact on KM and its ability to empower chatbots and other self–service channels. According to Forrester analysts Julie Mohr and Rowan Curran generative AI will significantly impact the ability of organisations to create, improve, find, and transfer knowledge and information across the enterprise. Rather than end users searching and clicking to find the information they need, AI allows for a much more intuitive question and response where the interaction is more conversation-like.
AI algorithms can analyse and understand the content within a knowledge management system, making recommendations to users based on their preferences, roles, and historical usage patterns. This personalisation can significantly enhance the user experience and improve knowledge discovery.
Adam Nicholls, Marketing Manager for Customer Driven Solutions, warns, however, “AI will not shortcut anything when it comes to your KM system and connecting it to your self-service channels. You still need to have your document sets and all of the structure and all of the conversational language appropriately set up. What the AI allows is the ability to access that in an intelligent and efficient way. But you need to do the groundwork. AI relies on data quality. Garbage in, garbage out. Your knowledge repository needs to contain accurate and up-to-date information.”.
McDonald adds, “AI is not fully here yet, but it is coming. The greatest impact I see is in terms of searching and its ability to push out content to the various channels within the organisation. AI can improve the search capabilities of KM systems by enabling semantic search, which understands context and meaning, making search results more relevant. AI-powered search can also handle voice and image searches, further enhancing accessibility.”
AI has the potential to revolutionise knowledge management, making information more accessible, relevant, and useful to organisations. This, in turn, will bolster organisations initiatives to elevate self-service experiences for customers. However, it should complement human expertise and judgment rather than replace it, fostering a balance between technology and human KM efforts.