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Knowledge management defined

Knowledge management is creating, sharing, using, and managing an organization’s information. It’s a multidisciplinary approach to achieve organizational objectives by providing access to the right knowledge to everyone.

Knowledge management is how a business creates, curates, distributes, uses, and manages knowledge and information—making it accessible to all.

 

What is a knowledge article?

Knowledge articles are digital documents that make up a knowledgebase. Articles aren't just standard documents; they can be landing page text, videos, images, infographics, or even animations or online interviews. They can be frequently asked questions (FAQs), explanations on how something is done (such as a how-to guide or manual), or troubleshooting steps/guides.

What is a knowledgebase?

A knowledgebase is a repository where all information (or knowledge) can be stored, organized, and shared with customers, employees, and even partners. The purpose of a knowledgebase is to serve as a single source of truth. In short, it makes it easier for people to find solutions to their problems, answers to their questions, or to get clarification.

How to create a knowledge article

There are a few key points to consider when developing and writing knowledge articles. First, as an author you should not assume anything about what the reader knows or doesn’t know. Nothing is too obvious to not include in a knowledge article. Lengthy articles should have anchor links, which are links on a page that brings the user to a specific place on that page.

Knowledge articles should be easy to skim and easy to read, using a conversational tone and everyday language to describe the feature, issue, or solution. Titles should be simple and to the point, especially if the article is for customers. Avoid industry jargon and technical terms. Organize all knowledge articles logically. Use links (between pieces) strategically to meet the goal of delivering brief, easy-to-read content that provides complete and comprehensive answers.

Use images to save your readers' time, ensure a better reading experience, and provide clarity. Tables and screenshots can go a long way to explain nuances without making an article too long and difficult to comprehend.

What is a knowledge management system?

How customer service agents can best use knowledge management when responding to a service request.

A knowledge management system stores and retrieves knowledge to improve the reader’s understanding, enhance employee collaboration, and improve the customer experience (CX) .

Knowledge management systems and software are commonly used by customer service employees, such as contact center agents and field service technicians. However, they can also be used directly by customers through various self-service digital customer service platforms including websites, chatbots, digital assistants, and phone apps.

How to use a knowledge management system

1

Create a single platform and deliver relevant answers consistently across all touchpoints.

The delivery of consistent answers across all channels requires a knowledge management platform that supports both customers and contact center agents in a single platform. The use of the term “platform” is important. You might have multiple repositories, but articles should be delivered in a single view. Providing relevant answers goes beyond having a curated knowledgebase. Knowledge comes in many forms—customer community posts, manuals, technical documents, customer forums, and social sites—to name a few. Successful customer experience requires that your knowledge management content must be available to your prospects when they need it—at every touchpoint in the customer journey.

2

Optimize content with the right knowledge, at the right time

Content optimization is critical. Start by thinking about your content in the context of the targeted audience and write in the voice of the customer. Use your customers' language, not company jargon. Online articles (and other information) should be segmented by customer and then tailored to those segments to enhance self-service and improve search results. Think about using a knowledge search platform that captures learnings based on content interactions with relevant/nonrelevant content to simplify search queries and provide future customers with the best possible answers.

3

Deliver the right knowledge to the right audience in the right channel

Extend your knowledge to where your customers are. Customers move between channels. Specific segments may visit your website through their mobile devices. Or they may ask their voice assistant/digital assistant, query a chatbot, or hop onto their laptop. Provide the means to access knowledge articles through all possible channels.

4

Empower customers and contact center agents

Leverage your customers’ and agents’ collective product knowledge to provide substantial benefits. Providing agents with pinpointed, accurate data/information does more than give them answers to customers’ questions; it allows them to become experts. Empower your agents to become part of the creation process by tapping into their product and industry knowledge for new ideas on how to communicate and connect with customers.

Provide the capabilities for customers to discuss, rate, and subscribe to answers within your knowledgebase. Let them provide feedback and rate knowledge articles to improve article quality and better understand value or gaps in the content. But don’t stop there. Help customers become knowledge authors/contributors through customer communities.

5

Continuously monitor the quality of your knowledge

Use analytics and reporting to understand which articles have the highest and lowest deflection rates, which answers are used most frequently, or even which answers aren’t getting viewed at all. Eliminating unused or ineffective answers help users find the right information faster. Identify knowledge gaps by assessing usage and success rates and looking at customer and agent searches to see which search queries aren’t yielding results.

Once content gaps have been identified, prioritize efforts to fill the gaps. Since it’s unlikely your knowledgebase will ever be completely free of content gaps, you’ll want to continually focus on addressing the highest priority gaps. Once an answer is found, the quality of the content is critical to both customers' and agents' success.

Information management vs. knowledge management

Information management deals with the processes involved in collecting and managing data/information. Knowledge management focuses on turning information into knowledge and then sharing and using it to add value.

Knowledge management vs. FAQ

There is a difference between a knowledgebase and an FAQ, or frequently asked questions. FAQs tend to be static, which means they only provide general answers to the most frequently asked questions, making it difficult to get specific answers to more nuanced questions or complex support needs. A knowledgebase works more like a search engine. Users can type in a question or keyword(s) into the search box, and the article(s) with the most relevant answer(s) will be automatically returned.

Knowledge management system—needed features

  • An easy-to-use authoring tool and rich media support to create knowledge articles and materials that quickly deliver the best answers.
  • Intelligent, proactive, and contextual search that lets you get knowledge to all stakeholders (employees, customers, and partners).
  • The ability to provide knowledge everywhere—in any environment—on any page, within any app, or across any device.
  • Global knowledge and language support to provide users throughout the world with a great customer experience, no matter the language. This type of support includes article translation and language comparison, as well answers in the needed language so users can find the answers they need quickly.
  • Advanced analytics, with prebuilt reports for insights into usage, customer interactions, resolution performance, and any content gaps in your knowledge repository.

Knowledge management benefits

A more efficient contact center

Self-service tools that allow customers to answer their own questions deflect incoming calls into the contact center, reducing the overall volume of requests—and costs. A knowledge management system also gives agents access to a unified knowledgebase to help boost first call resolution and reduce average handling time.

Increase stakeholder collaboration

A knowledge management system can help connect employees across the entire organization as well as customers who can provide the most relevant and engaging responses. Harness employee learnings to create dynamic knowledge articles for your customer service agents and field service workers.

Consistent CX and speedy issue resolution

Customer experience improves when customers can easily access information. Providing consistent and accurate answers and self-service access to various knowledge and informational materials increases customer loyalty.

Optimize onboarding and training processes

Shorten the ramp-up time for contact center agents by providing easily accessible, accurate knowledge articles.

Improve the agent experience and reduce agent turnover

Increase agent satisfaction, decrease agent turnover, and reduce incident handling time in your contact center by providing customer service employees with easy access to the knowledge they need to do their jobs well.

Lower operational costs

Manage your operational costs and leverage the expertise of your employees, while improving your service efficiency to meet your users’ needs.

Knowledge management and customer self-service

Self-service is one of the most powerful ways to leverage a knowledge management system to improve customer experience. Users can find answers faster with simple, selective browsing that delivers the right knowledge without extensive searching. They get their questions answered quickly, freeing your contact center employees to focus on more complex tasks.

How can knowledge management be used within a customer service department?

A customer service knowledgebase contains all the information needed to provide a great customer experience. Knowledge management offers a substantial competitive advantage through greater employee competencies and improved group synergies, resulting in more creativity, innovation, collaboration, and sharing—continuing the process over again for even higher gains. Productivity improves when employees gain easier access to expertise and a better employee experience. When combined with a business rules engine or policy automation tool, decisions are more balanced and correct.

Knowledge management improves typical customer service KPIs, such as net promoter score (NPS) and first call resolution rates and reduces the average call handling time while delivering consistent customer experiences across all service channels, including self-service.

Steps to implement a knowledge management system

1. Identify your business problem

Identify the business problem(s) that needs to be solved and any problem areas that may hamper the solution. Then align the knowledge management implementation with those problems and objectives.

2. Plan a change management strategy

Prepare your employees for the transition. To be successful, a systems implementation involves modifying both processes and the way employees see their roles and responsibilities. Managing user expectations usually takes up much more effort than the technical issues.

3. Create a team

Assign a leader and a team made up of cross-department/cross-functional experts to work through processes and solve problems as they arise.

4. Perform a knowledge/content audit

Identify the sources and locations of knowledge required to solve the business problems laid out in Step 1. Begin by organizing content by categories that reflect your goals and objectives. Evaluate the variety and quantity of information stored in databases, on the web, as well as any knowledge that your employees possess.

5. Identify the critical features that the knowledge management system requires

Create a checklist of essential features that your knowledge management system must have to help solve your key business problems—see Step 1. Assess your various technology needs and prioritize them to improve your overall IT infrastructure.

6. Establish implementation phases

Implement your knowledge management solution in stages, where each one addresses a specific part of the solution, lays the foundation for the next stage, delivers benefits, and provides a measurable ROI. A phased process ensures that the overall objectives can be divided into smaller, achievable goals.

7. Postimplementation evaluation

After the launch of the knowledge management system, evaluate which areas are successfully working and which areas are not working as per expectations. Make any required improvements to ensure that the entire knowledge management system is meeting your goals.

How to set up a CRM knowledge management system

Learn how to set up knowledge management for B2C customer service so that your contact center agents are more efficient and provide better customer experiences.

What is an example of a knowledge management system?

Companies across a variety of industries use knowledge management systems for a variety of purposes. Here are just a few:

  • A large roadside assistance organization implemented a knowledge authoring system that produces roadside assistance-related information to support patrol technicians. Articles are easily published, and their use is measured across affiliated motoring clubs throughout the country. Learn more.
  • A fintech company uses a knowledge management system to boost efficiency and improve CX in their call center. Contact center agents can match thousands of different service scenarios with customers' account data and offer various answers, such as step-by-step instructions or links to self-service how-to videos, FAQs, and articles. Read the story.
  • An online financial services firm used a knowledge management system to support their digital customer service initiatives. Customers can access a self-service, searchable knowledgebase, an automated email response form, and a digital assistant chatbot. When customers ask the digital assistant how to do something, it will send links to instructional videos or FAQs. If it can’t answer a question, the customer is automatically transferred to a live agent. Get the details.
  • An IT and business services firm shortened response times to a range of IT support issues by providing technical support consultants with up-to-date knowledge at their fingertips, thanks to a comprehensive knowledgebase and standard answer functions. See the complete service cloud story.