What happens if your colleagues aren’t present and a customer comes up with a query? For a new customer support agent, it is a tighter spot than you can imagine. With a lack of knowledge management system, it can wreak havoc on a company’s credibility in the eyes of the customer. Let us delve into how a well-established knowledge management system is of paramount importance in the 21st-century call centers, especially call center outsourcing companies as they are working remotely.
Customer service agents have faced the brunt of it; a customer pings the chatbox of a company online and is unable to get his/her query solved. It isn’t because the customer support agent is lax in his/her attitude that the problem isn’t getting taken care of, the blame lies on the knowledge management system of the company or its non-existence. The worst-case scenario can make the customer turn away from the company and stop using its services altogether.
Why do you need it?
It brings every customer service agent in your company on the same page, whether they are in-house or are in one of your customer service outsourcing companies. If a customer comes in with a hard-to-solve problem or if there is a misunderstanding about how processes are to be conducted, a knowledge management system would come in as a boon and bring clarity to everyone. On your first day in a new company, there are two types of information you receive as a worker. The first kind refers to the formal orientation you receive about the company’s procedures and rules. That is the holy grail to be followed if you wish to work in the company and work well. That can be a whole lot of information to soak in. If the company is growing at a speedy rate, a large part of this information will be drowned out of your brain cells with most of your time being spent in sorting out unexpected issues. If the team is growing in tandem with the growth of the company, newer employees will keep on coming and you will need one up-to-date and authentic source of information for all problems which the employees should be able to refer to all the time.
Each type of information should be recorded to build an extensive knowledge management system, a customer service agent might have a tip about how to deal with a particular customer and an insight into what he/she usually seeks. This can help customer support agents who never dealt with that customer but now have a bit of information into how to go about it.
It is a necessity for companies to record dealings with a customer, the queries, which arose after that, the number of escalations, and the steps taken to resolve those. A customer service agent’s absence for a day shouldn’t spell chaos for the others.
If the company is growing at a fast pace, it will likely keep on hiring new recruits to meet the work requirements. The company needs a vast repository, which serves as the holy grail for new customer support agents. Likely one, which they can cling to and search through for answers.
When the Informal should be Formal
Let us say you are a manager pulling a shift a day after Christmas. A loyal customer ping you with a problem and you have no idea how to solve it because the customer support outsourcing agent dealing with him isn’t available that day. You know that the problem cannot be resolved without having access to all the information about the issue, the only solution would be to get time till the next day. Gathering all information in one place would help your customer service representatives put their efforts in the right direction. They wouldn’t have to waste time over each case. The formal procedures lay intact, but what you really need is a sense of informal tips, how-tos, and know-how to help with issues. Employees can make you more aware of the right way to work with their informal talks than any procedural manual. For them, it is the ‘common sense’ they have gained with working in a position for a long time. This type of information can easily be lost among cracks. If one employee has left the company or is away for a while, that piece of vital information is lost as well. To avoid that, one must turn informal information into a structured repository by putting in all the best practices and ‘know-how’ in one place in as easy a language as possible. It can also be made easy to understand if you use pictorial depictions.
Guides, Frequently Asked Questions(FAQs) forum, procedural techniques, and informal know-hows are equally important when it comes to building a knowledge management system. Time and time again, experts have put forward theories on how crucial informal information is when it comes to taking care of the customer base.
Bringing Out The Gaps
The first step to build an all-encompassing vast repository of knowledge is to identify the gaps in the existing one. You need to invite every employee to put in their perspective from their experiences and help the company improve the processes. Make sure that your knowledge s well structured and easy to access and use. If a company does that, they would be able to put more in the book than any expert could. It will eventually put a spotlight on all the issues a customer’s faces and maintain a strict procedural technique minimizing the back-and-forth between different departments.
Making this a regular exercise would make the knowledge base as strong as ever with a constant flow of information, news, updates, changes between the employees and the management. An employee wouldn’t need to ask a colleague or go to the management for resolving customer issues, it will make every piece of relevant information readily available to him/her and help go for the right decision.
It Helps Out Everyone
Knowledge about a customer isn’t only for the customer support agents; though, it will help them the most for they deal with customers all the time. It will help improve processes and help establish new ones if every perspective is put into words and recorded.
Upper-level management always talks to the customer support agents to get an insight into customer behavior. They also talk to the product services, and operations team to understand how they resolved an issue or the procedures they followed. Imagine if an executive decision-maker knows about every problem from the lowest level to the highest, this will give an insight and a golden chance to him/her into crafting procedures that help employees understand an issue better and deal with it.
In such scenarios, any escalation can be dealt with in a better way minimizing time and efforts for the customer service agents and improving processes all around.
There are times for a customer support agent does not have anybody they can seek help. In such cases, well-defined processes refined with a knowledge management system would reduce the number of escalations, in turn, reducing the work pressure and eventually giving a chance to work on other areas of improvement.
How To Implement It?
The first step would be compiling every piece of information that you can find about the customers, products, services, escalations, common queries, usual issues, questions, and topics related to the company. For that, you would need every employee to pitch in and give insight. You can hire experts to come in, go through processes and come up with findings.
The second step would be to categorize it accordingly; every customer support agent should know which links to click on and find the necessary information to resolve an issue. They should know about the FAQs and usual issues, which arise with a product or service. If it is categorized properly, no matter on which software it has been done on, it will eventually lead to the betterment of processes.
There are a few points you need to pay heed to:
- Is the information provided doing more harm than good? – If there are different types of information regarding one issue or product, it will lead to confusion for the employee and might cause an issue to spiral into escalation and eventually turning away a loyal customer. The employee must have the resource to the right type of information about products or the procedures to deal with a specific escalation.
- What is the most common issue when it comes to products or services? Which technical problem does the customer mostly complain about? – There are always issues that a customer services team would readily explain in the FAQ section. That needs to be constantly updated if you find an issue arising again and again. If customers frequently complain about a website bug, you need to resolve it and cannot write about it in the FAQ section. The employee must have the right resources to understand how to go about dealing with the issue and the procedure pertaining to it.
- Is the information consistent when it comes to methodologies and procedures? – You might find detailed instructions when it comes to a problem or a product, but there is a high chance you won’t find as many details if you look through another product. It is because time and effort were put in for one process but not for the other. That needs to be changed, as extensive information would be required by an employee to resolve arising issues.
Remember, the motive should be to develop the repository in such a way that every piece of information is categorized and placed accordingly. The information could pertain to how-to-use articles, FAQs, troubleshooting, and improvement in quality.
There is no singular method to go about it; every company offers a different product and service. You can use the thousands of software available in the market or go for the classic spreadsheet to make the repository; it should fulfill the purpose it was created for.
Always look to improve
You can never be static with your procedures and methods; you need to always keep evolving in a market, which is stiflingly competitive. Companies should encourage their employees to participate in keeping the knowledge management system robust.
Quite frankly, it is a never-ending task and would require persistent efforts from all the employees to maintain and develop it accordingly. There are always new issues, unprecedented problems, and escalations, which need newer ways to be dealt with. That should be put in the knowledge management system to make it worth the employee’s use. An outdated system will set the company years back when it comes to dealing with issues. Being on the lookout is the only way forward.
Multitudes in place of the individual
As previously mentioned in the article, you must be in constant communication with your customer service representatives to understand the problems your customers are facing. Even if a single person is assigned to take care of the whole knowledge management system, every employee should be encouraged to give regular updates and feedback to the person in charge.
He/she can’t do it all alone and every input is welcome when it comes to building the repository. If the employees are given credit for bringing in small pieces of information, they would realize the level of impact they can have on improving the procedures of the company. It will make them feel an integral part of the company and they will start doing it more often.
Knowledge management systems don’t only exist to reach higher levels of excellence in customer support. It is a golden chance to push your teams to an upper level of performance, build integral inter-departmental ties, and giving a stage to each employee. For a new employee, it is sometimes the only support they can cling to and the only stairway to better performance.