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Build a Knowledge Management System You Can Be Proud Of

Let's face it. People are busy.

Many customers nowadays prefer to hunt down the best solution for themselves. Some don’t actually want to speak to a customer service agent on the phone. Nor do they want to wait days on end for an e-mail response.

The logic here is simple: Your customers are thinking that in the time it takes them to locate your phone number, place a call, navigate through your interactive voice response system and wait on hold to finally reach an agent for customer service, they could have just as quickly Googled the right answer. In fact, they may be right.

What's the challenge? How do we, as business managers, make sure that the right technology tools are available and confidently provide valuable solutions that will meet the needs of our customers on their terms?

Let's explore three Web-based tools that will position your company to do just that.

Have a Public Knowledge Management System

Whether you call the technology a knowledge management system, solutions database or simply your list of frequently asked questions, you need to offer answers to common questions related to your company, product or service.

Your knowledge management system should be the backbone of your online "Help" section, typically located in the upper right-hand corner of each page on your website. This is standard practice and customers expect to consistently find help by glancing up toward the top corner of the page.

In the help section, offer FAQs. For easiest navigation of the technology you can categorize the solutions, keeping it limited to no more than a handful of basic categories. People tend to scan category names first and then drill down to the particular question. This method can ease frustration.

"Solutions" should be titled in the form of a question, so that your customer will identify with the situation. For instance: "What is your return policy?" or "I lost my password. What can I do?" When your customer clicks on the question, the page refreshes with the matching solution.

Regardless of which industry you're in, there are common issues that tend to crop up, namely questions related to the features and benefits of your product or service, how to place an order and so on.

In fact, you'll kill two birds with one stone because the knowledge management system is often the first point of reference for your customer service agents when pressed with a particularly challenging question.

Why Have a Public Knowledge Management System

Give customers immediate, 24/7 access to critical information through technology. Through a self-service portal view, customers can find answers by browsing by topic or searching FAQs.

Customer service and support staff can access your knowledge management system, allowing them to reduce customer handling time and improve first contact resolution rates.

You can reduce phone and e-mail volume by providing customers with information and self-help online. When a call center reprsentative is required to solve an inquiry, easily direct the customer to the most appropriate channel through seamless escalation technology.

Learn about customer needs and preferences through technology, and understand how to improve content and processes through in-depth reporting capabilities.

Also, encourage employees to contribute content to your knowledge management system. Distribute the information using centralized knowledge-sharing services, continually improving the quality of the application. Most file formats and documents are accepted so document upload can be quick and simple without format conversion.

What To Look for in a Knowledge Management System

  • Powerful search and retrieval methodologies, ensuring customers receive rapid, accurate and consistent responses.
  • Easy authoring, robust review workflow and flexible article access to further enhance the centralized knowledge repository.
  • Simple rating system that gives your customers the option to click a "helpful" or "not helpful" button after reading a solution.
  • Insightful reporting technology indicating which articles users seek and what information is unavailable, driving continuous operational improvements.

Knowledge Management System Technology Vendors

Here are some technology vendors that you may want to consider.

  • Kayako—Kayako develops market-leading help desk software and support desk Software.
  • Live Person—Gain insight into website activity, increase sales and reduce support costs with Live Person Contact Center
  • Salesforce Service & Support—Salesforce offers a modern Web application that helps companies deliver the right answer the first time, every time, through both call center and self-service channels.

Make Your Knowledge Management System Public

Once you've installed your knowledge management system, test it for accuracy. Run a few searches to ensure that the best answer comes up in the results. If you need to, modify the title of the articles, or reword the solution to better match what people will be looking for.

Before you know it, it will be time to launch your public knowledge management system to your customers. Consider sending out an e-mail campaign to your customer list informing them of this new tool designed specifically with them in mind.

Key Performance Indicators

After a few weeks, or a few days depending on how many customers you have, you'll start to see an improvement. What should you expect? Companies have reported that they have reduced e-mail volume by 80 percent and reduced call volume by 15 percent in the first month of use, 50 percent in the first year*. That's impressive!

Here are some recommended key performance indicators that will help you measure your success:

  • Public Knowledge Management System Activity—A report to answer the question: How useful is our public knowledge management system?
  • Most Accessed Solutions—A report to answer the question: How many "viewed" responses have we received?
  • FAQ Positive Responses—A report to answer the question: How many "helpful" responses have we received?
  • Top 10 FAQs—A report to answer the question: What are the most accessed frequently asked questions?

Wrap Up on Technology

Clearly, a public knowledge management system is a critical component of servicing your customers online. It empowers both your customers as well as your call center representatives to search and retrieve the best answer for a given situation, ultimately resulting in fewer calls and less e-mails. It's no wonder that getting a public knowledge management system online should be your top priority for 2009.

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