Knowledge Management Is the Foundation of Good Customer Experience

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To state the obvious: A good knowledge experience is one that is efficient, convenient and complete. You get the knowledge you need, wherever you are, with as little time and effort as possible. If this doesn’t describe your organization, don’t worry. Most of us still have some work to do to achieve this goal.

But why do it at all? Here are three of my top reasons.

1. Customer Expectations

You can’t have a good experience if it doesn’t meet your expectations. Thanks to a recent recent PwC report on customer experience, it’s very clear what customers overwhelmingly expect:

Nearly 80% of American consumers point to speed, convenience, knowledgeable help and friendly service as the most important elements of a positive customer experience.

That’s a huge number, but it shouldn’t be surprising.The only way to effectively deliver on this expectation is exceptional and centralized knowledge management. The three adjectives used to describe good help: “Speed, convenience and knowledgeable,” are all a function of quality. 

Related Article: What Does It Mean to Manage Knowledge?

2. Different Answers Cause Frustration

There is nothing more frustrating than having a company’s help site say one thing, its chatbot saying another (or often, nothing), and its support reps saying a third. This is bad KM in action. Organizations have different sources of knowledge content feeding each of these customer touch points, which invariably leads them to being out of sync.

Try this: Take a list of 10 questions answered or processed in your online help experience and then call your help desk and ask them to answer the same questions or help you achieve the result of the processes. For the best view into your customer experience, these 10 things shouldn’t be the 10 most common things, but they also shouldn’t be 10 incredibly obscure things either. Once this is done, take a look at how closely the service people’s replies match those found in your knowledge content.

So many things can come out of this exercise, and some of them might surprise you. But if nothing else, having this “mini-audit” documented is huge. It creates a record of how consistent (or inconsistent) your organization is. An audit that finds wild inconsistencies can shock a company into action. On the other side, an audit that shows fairly consistent answers can show that your investments are working.

Going back to the PwC report:

Only 47% of executives say they understand clearly how robotics and AI will improve customer experience. That has to change — immediately. Smooth, consistent transitions from machine to human is crucial. Consumers increasingly show loyalty to the retailers, brands and devices that consistently provide exceptional value and variety with minimum friction or stress.

This is focused on AI, but the reality is your help site, learning management system or customer facing knowledge-base is a machine too, and the most fundamental aspect of a smooth and consistent transition between those sources and your people is that they say the same things.

Getting this right is an imperative for customer trust, brand loyalty, repeat business, opportunity to upsell and support efficiency.

Related Article: What Does Proactive Customer Service Mean for Brands?

3. Customers Don’t Want to Talk to You

OK, that might be a bit of an exaggeration, but the core of the point remains. Today’s customer experience is built on speed and let’s face it, calling support is almost never the fastest way to answer a question. A new Chrome tab with a Google search takes less than a second, a fraction of the time it would take you to even find a number to call. Support lines and human interaction will always be necessary for the most complex problems, but as knowledge management professionals, it’s our job to constantly push the boundary of what qualifies as being complex enough that a human is required.

Here’s a thought experiment: What would change if you reframe your perspective on the customer support experience to consider any progression that results in a phone call as a failure? Specifically, a failed content experience. Sure, this isn’t actually true — it’s too extreme and some level of human-to-human interaction is valuable — but the thought experiment is still super useful.

When you start thinking in this way, the natural next step is journey mapping the different common paths people take that result in a failed content experience. For sure there are many, but often just a few are key. If you take a programmatic approach to this, you can start to clear the fog and see the bigger picture of how customers gather knowledge from your organization. This becomes the supporting evidence for building future business cases that improve your knowledge management and your customer experience.

Knowledge management is the bedrock of customer experience. Now that we’re living in a digital-first world, that’s never been more true. If knowledge management isn’t top of mind at your organization, it needs to be. It’s time to take these three actionable reasons and change some minds.

Patrick is a co-founder and CEO of Heretto. Since beginning his career in 2005 Patrick, has worked on a wide range of projects all focused on improving authoring, production, and distribution of content.

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