Knowledge management for customer care operations

Giving your agents access to the right information at the right time

1 Overview

Knowledge management (KM) is the process of developing, capturing, sharing and making effective use of knowledge at scale. For customer care, this applies to both external applications (customer facing help centres and FAQs) and internal applications (agent reference materials, troubleshooting guides and canned responses).

Be aware that the creation of a robust knowledge repository can be a time consuming task and that content will need to be maintained on an ongoing basis. The necessary level of investment will be determined by the complexity of your business and the frequency of changes to your internal operations.

Key considerations:

  • A knowledge management system is essential for any support operation
  • A knowledge management system should integrate directly into support workflows
  • Knowledge content should be mapped to your customer issue taxonomy
  • Knowledge content should span product, process and organisational knowledge
  • It is important to keep knowledge content up to date

2 Knowledge management platform

You will need a platform for storing, maintaining and accessing all of the information your customer care operations will need to launch and operate.

Your knowledge management system should be sufficiently flexible to support the new information your business will generate over time and to enable effective change management processes.

Key considerations:

  • Search - Can your agents easily access the most relevant content for their task?

  • Editing - Can agents provide feedback on knowledge content or suggest changes?

  • Change management - Can you track different versions of knowledge content and notify agents of any changes?

  • Insights - Can you track usage of your knowledge content to identify topics that would benefit from further training?

3 Knowledge Repository Content

High quality knowledge repository content will improve contact handling and response times, ensure consistent and accurate resolution of customer issues, and reduce escalations to second level support.

The breadth and depth of your knowledge repository content will depend on the nature of the customers and products being supported. It is also important to consider the range of markets covered by your business. In some cases, your knowledge content will need to be localised to account for differences in languages, culture and region specific workflows.

In general, knowledge content will fall within the following three categories:

(i) Workflow and Troubleshooting Steps

This content provides step-by-step instructions for the agent to resolve a customer issue. Once you have developed a customer issue taxonomy, an associated workflow should be created for each of the most common issues.

Ideally, this content will be integrated with your workflow management system. This should allow your agent to classify a case and immediately receive relevant troubleshooting steps.

The information provided in these workflows should enable the agent to resolve the customer issue in question to the fullest extent possible, and outline the required escalation steps when a full resolution is not possible.

Written instructions are ideal for helping agents to resolve live customer issues. However, it is a good idea to also develop process maps to provide a visual representation of these steps. This acts as a control when implementing any changes to internal processes. It also helps agents who respond better to more graphical instructions.

(ii) Reference materials

This includes information that your agents or operational leads need to access, but are not tied to a specific item in your customer issue taxonomy. Information such as product descriptions or general policies (such as the tone to use when interacting with a customer) are reference materials that should be made available through the knowledge management system.

This category also includes your process and customer journey maps. These are critical artefacts for optimising your customer care operations. They should be consulted whenever you consider a change to your workflows, allowing you to better understand the potential operational impacts.

(iii) Canned responses

Publishing a set of standard responses to your most common customer issues can help increase the speed and consistency of your customer care operations.

As with the workflows and troubleshooting steps, canned responses should be mapped to your customer issue taxonomy. Ideally, your workflow management system will return the relevant response once your agent classifies a case.

It is recommended that canned responses adhere to the desired tone and editorial guidelines for your customer communications.

4 Maintaining content

Knowledge repository content for your customer care operations is not static - your business will change, new issues will be identified and internal processes will evolve. Your knowledge management process should be sufficiently flexible to adapt to this change, accommodating real-time feedback and periodic content reviews.

The following points are worth considering to ensure the continued effectiveness and accuracy of your knowledge content over time:

  • Identify subject matter experts (e.g. experienced agents) and make them accountable for the effectiveness of your knowledge content

  • Establish and maintain internal communication channels to keep up to date with changes across your business (e.g. product and policy teams)

  • Provide an easy feedback loop for agents to report issues with knowledge content and to suggest improvements

  • Implement an audit process to analyse content effectiveness and usage on a periodic basis