Knowledge Management in the Call Center: 6 Ways You’re Getting It Wrong

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Today’s consumers want answers, and they want them now. (And it should go without saying that they want the right answers!) When they contact you for support, they expect to be served by someone who knows your products and services inside and out, but for most companies, that involves more memorization than even a Jeopardy champion could handle. So what are you doing wrong?

Here are six best practices for using knowledge-centered support in the call center to make every agent an expert.

1. Your agent desktop doesn’t include knowledgebase access

Over 80% of consumers are frustrated when an agent doesn’t have the information they need, and 44% report actually receiving a wrong answer from an agent. When agents have fingertip access to the knowledgebase, they are better able to diagnose customer issues, which has been shown to increase first-contact resolution rates by up to 25%.

Before implementing agent-facing knowledge, UK telecom carrier Virgin Mobile struggled with rising service requests due to increasingly sophisticated devices. After six months of use, the company saw a 38% reduction in device exchanges because of better issue resolution, a 23% improvement in call quality, and a 19% increase in first-call resolution. All this because they switched to a knowledge-centered support approach, recognizing knowledge as a key asset in their organization.

2. Your agents aren’t using the same knowledgebase customers use for self-service

More than 90% of customers expect to receive consistent information over multiple customer channels. To meet that demand, you have to make sure they get the same answer to their question, no matter who, where, or how they ask. In other words, every channel—from self-service bot, to contact center agent, to store associate, etc.—needs to pull information from the same source of knowledge.

In addition to contributing to a consistent customer experience, using knowledge-centered support to control information helps call centers comply with regulations and policies. For example, if your company is recalling a product, it’s crucial to ensure that customers receive completely accurate information, down to the smallest detail—both to guarantee their safety and to show adherence to legal requirements.

3. Your self-service doesn’t pass robust context when escalating to a live agent

Nearly three-fourths of consumers prefer to use your website to get answers rather than contact a live agent. But no matter how good your self-service is, some issues will still need to be transferred to a human, and if that escalation isn’t done well, you could end up with a frustrated customer.

So how do you get it right and ensure a hassle-free transition? It’s all about the context. A smart knowledge management system (KMS) will pass a transcript of what the customer searched for and what responses and documents were accessed, so the agent can pick up the conversation where self-service left off. Without this information, the contact center employee is sent in blind and the customer is forced to repeat their question.

4. You haven’t integrated your knowledge and CRM systems

Intelligent agent guidance is a feature of smart call center CRM software that can predict a customer’s next steps and provide tailored suggestions for the agent’s response. When you integrate knowledge management, that guidance can take the information about the customer that’s stored in the CRM database and combine it with context about their current self-service interaction to further personalize the suggested actions. According to Gartner, this integration reduces the agent’s response time by anywhere from 20-80%, significantly increasing productivity and customer satisfaction.

5. Your training goals don’t reflect best practices

Before self-service became widely used, the rule of thumb was that 80% of contact center interactions were about 20% of the issues. So training was focused on that 20%, allowing agents to solve 80% of the issues and escalate the rest. Now the 80% is targeted by self-service, and agents are receiving calls that are more complicated than what can be covered in a few weeks of training.

You can adjust to this new normal by shifting your training goals to focus on “in-call” instead of “pre-call.” In other words, don’t try to teach agents everything they need to know before they even start on the phones—it’s an impossible feat. Instead, use a smart CRM solution and integrated knowledgebase software to guide them during the call and give them easy access to the exact information they need. This element of the knowledge-centered support approach relies on leveraging the knowledge assets you’ve already created (your knowledgebase) and using them to supplement your agents’ own skills.

In addition to getting new agents up and running more quickly—some Astute customers have seen training time reduced by several weeks—implementing knowledge-centered support in the contact center lets you target your hiring efforts to individuals with strong interpersonal skills, and focus less on how well they can memorize and retain information. You can access a bigger and less expensive labor pool and decrease recruitment costs and, ideally, turnover.

6. Your agents aren’t successfully upselling customers

The best time to sell something to customers is when they’ve just received exceptional service, which puts agents in an ideal position to create conversion opportunities. But the skills that help individuals excel at service and support don’t necessarily translate to effective selling, so many contact center leaders have been reluctant to require employees to attempt it. With integrated knowledge management, though, the CRM software can guide agents through the process and deliver relevant information about new or complementary products/services to give them the confidence they need to make the sale.

As you can see, implementing knowledge management in the contact center requires smart software that integrates with your CRM solution. To learn how Astute’s blend of leading-edge technologies can help you follow these best practices with ease, take a quick tour of Astute Knowledge.

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