Applying Knowledge Management To Improve Customer Experience

Ever heard of the 80/20 rule? It can apply to many areas of productivity but the basic premise is that 80% of your time doing low-value repetitive tasks is better spent focussing on the 20% of tasks that yield the best return for your efforts.

In the world of customer service, it’s not uncommon for a customer service rep to spend 80% of their time responding to common and repetitive calls or emails with the same information effectively making them (through no fault of their own) inefficient and probably somewhat demoralised.

Likewise, for the customer, the sheer rigmarole of having to pick up the phone, send an email and either sit in a call queue or wait for a reply causes frustration and apathy. Next time there is an opportunity to promote a new product or service, the motivation of the customer to make a purchase with that organisation is severely derailed.

The Explosion Of Touch Points

Only a short while ago, customer service touch points were reasonably small. Organisations would offer phone, email and occasionally live chat options and customers were funnelled into one of these slow but methodical lanes of engagement. Information could eventually be shared, but the customer was very much at the mercy of when a customer service rep could get to them.

Jump to today and advances in technology have created an explosion of user touch points across a data set that have changed the expectation of consumers. Customers demand information and customer service fast, efficiently and through a touch point that delivers when they want it.

As Kate Leggett, VP and Principal Analyst at Forrester Research says:

“More and more, customers want effortless service. Customers want to connect at the touch point of their choice, get the answer to their question, and get on with their busy lives.”

Knowledge Management As A Solution

With so much to be won and lost in the customer service stakes, the challenge of how to iterate a customer service team to properly embrace this new dawn can seem daunting. So many touchpoints, so much data and so many people. Enter Knowledge Management.

Knowledge Management (KM) is a way to capture, curate, retain and share important and evolving pieces of information and support actionable intelligence, innovate and drive improved outcomes.

If that sounds like a mouthful, think of KM as the brain that is connected to every limb of the organisation. It is an agile place that can be accessed by both customer service reps and customers alike at any time and through a variety of methods.

KM plugs right into your existing setup and ensures that the best, most up-to-date, most valuable information and solutions are instantly available when they are needed. No longer does your customer have to wait in a call queue, and no longer are your customer service reps wasting time answering the same questions.

A Worked Example

Terry’s Tiles have a customer service team of 5 people. At present, 80% of their time across an average week is spent answering the same customer questions over and over through traditional channels. Assuming each has a 37.5 hour work week that means out of 187.5 paid hours, 150 paid hours are repeated tasks.

Of the 20% of your customer service rep time not spent on repetitive tasks, that only leaves 37.5 hours TOTAL a week for them to work on strategy, new customer engagement tasks, effective system maintenance and to actually add new value to the company.

In other words, for every 5 people Terry’s Tiles employs, 4 are a sunken cost to the bottom line that is simply living groundhog day each and every working shift.

On the consumer side, say each Terry’s Tiles customer is spending an average of 30 mins on hold, or a stated expectation of an email reply within 24 hours as a result of this backlog of customer service response time. How quickly are they likely to give up and take their business elsewhere?

Building A Brighter Future

By working to ensure continuity and growth of knowledge throughout your organisation you will find it easier to deliver a consistent and improved customer experience throughout your customer journey.

Tertiary gains are self-evident. The always on, always up to date nature of KM means not only are you able to meet changing customer and employee needs, but compliance/regulatory requirements are less risky and easy to change. Dusty silos of files, documents, webpages and outdated information are a thing of the past. Isn’t it time to make the change?