4 Ways to Optimize Your Knowledge Base for the Employee and Customer Experience

Use technology to manage, automate and optimize your knowledge base

Kindra Cooper

Knowledge management

If there’s one item in your technology stack that takes precedence over everything else, it’s your knowledge base. It’s the lifeblood powering agent-facing tools like your CRM system as well as customer interfaces like self-service, chat, FAQs and more.

In a CCW Digital Market Study, The Future of the Contact Center in 2019, we polled thousands of contact center leaders, who identified self-service as the #2 strategic priority for their organization. 

Likewise, the data shows that today’s digital-first generation prefers self-service over contacting an agent by phone, SMS or chat, and 81 percent said they prefer fast, convenient experiences over highly personalized ones. 

Brian Cantor CCW DigitalAt a recent ZenDesk Showcase event in New York City, CCW Digital principal analyst Brian Cantor was invited to discuss four ways to optimize your knowledge base for EX and CX. 

1. Knowledge management using technology

Managing a knowledge base equates to a full-time job. You have to create multimedia content, keep the information up-to-date, monitor analytics on both the front- and back-end showing how agents and customers engage with the content, and understand how self-service fits into the overall customer journey.

These tasks are labor-intensive and time-consuming and most organizations don’t take advantage of technologies that help automate certain processes, establish workflows, and analyze data. 

“If you look at a typical knowledge management solution,” said Cantor, “you’re relying too much on human labor to do maintenance tasks - updating entries, identifying when things go out-of-date, figuring out how to take relevant information and patch it together.”

Brian Cantor CCW Digital

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Smart knowledge management is about establishing an optimal balance between technology and human labor to turn your knowledge base into a tool for optimizing the agent experience and the customer experience. 

“Suddenly now we’re looking at technology to analyze how people use the knowledge base, what needs updating - and, more importantly, making it easy to use and update,” said Cantor.

2. Make your content discoverable 

Effective self-service lets customers find answers to FAQs, trouble-shoot product issues and escalate when necessary to speak to a live agent or request a refund or replacement. However, posting great content is futile if it’s not discoverable. 

Customers shouldn’t have to comb through confusing sitemaps, sift through content that’s not relevant to their consumer segment or product category, or be unable to filter search results.

For instance, a telco customer on a wireless plan doesn’t need help articles for B2B or landline customers. When you offer a range of product categories catered to different customer bases, you should provide customers with an opportunity to self-identify before entering your knowledge base so they only see content that’s relevant to them. 

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What’s more, content must be properly tagged for internal indexing and SEO-optimized for external searchability.  

“Because it’s no longer behind-the-scenes, we have to make findability an absolute priority,” said Cantor. “That means your classification and search must be intuitive, natural and logical.” 

Finally, self-service shouldn’t be a ploy for deflecting calls; you must consider how and when it fits into the overall customer journey. Is it for potential leads seeking educational content?

Create case studies, blog posts and non-promotional videos to build credibility and show off your industry expertise. Is it for prospective customers who want more information about specific products and use cases? Or, is it meant for existing customers seeking after-sales care or technical troubleshooting?

It may be all three, in which case your knowledge base navigation bar or sitemap should define clear journeys for each persona. 

“If you’re not thinking about where in the customer journey it makes sense to pop a self-service option, you’re reducing [self-service] to that same old deflection tool,” warned Cantor. 

There’s a distinct reason why IVRs feel like a deflection tool - they’re non-specialized and utterly impersonal. Your knowledge base should not reek of an IVR - you should route customers properly and give them the option to escalate to a live agent if needed. 

“When you have classification you give people confidence, trust and assurance that you know what they’re looking for and they’re dealing with a real support experience - not just a deflection,” added Cantor.

3. Keep content up-to-date

Mergers and acquisitions, new product lines, rebrandings - all are scenarios that necessitate detailed updates to the knowledge base. But even in the absence of major organizational shifts, you still need to make sure the content is accurate and up-to-date, hyperlinks are usable and devoid of antiquated references to, say, floppy disks or CD-ROMs. 

“You need to make sure you can constantly improve and evolve the way you communicate knowledge,” explained Cantor. “That’s where knowledge intelligence makes its mark, because it involves a great technology framework.”

To do that, you need analytics, back-end tools and accessibility. Knowledge base analytics tell you which entries are most or least viewed, the most common search terms, repeat searches, and number of questions to resolution for both agents and customers. 

While you might enlist a contact center leader or even a copywriter to oversee the knowledge base, agents should have editing access as well. Everyday they’re on the frontlines with customers; they know what questions customers ask and which issues get escalated to the phones because they couldn’t resolve their issue in self-service. 

“When you can simplify that process and make it so that agents can communicate new knowledge and contribute updates, that’s when you truly have an intelligent approach to knowledge,” said Cantor. 

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Agents should be able to rate knowledge base entries, make suggestions, create their own articles and discover new content. While servicing a customer by phone or chat, the agent should be able to see which knowledge articles the customer has already viewed so they don’t send them the same content.

Finally, your knowledge management tool should allow you to control publishing in terms of building workflows by assigning tasks to specific users and enabling approvals and peer reviews. 

Some solutions even let you set a verification schedule so the owner of the article is periodically reminded to check the content and make sure it’s still relevant.

4. Measure and extend knowledge

You should be able to collect data specific to knowledge base activity, but you should also correlate the data with wider CX goals or metrics. 

“If you can identify, here’s when a customer accessed our database; here’s their NPS and CSAT, that’s going to tell you whether or not you’re on the right track,” said Cantor. 

Don’t forget related indicators like silence during calls and the proportion of customers who call to those who use self-service. 

You should also keep your finger on basic usage metrics using tools like Google Analytics that show referral pages, click-through rate, time on page, top searches, bounce rates and other classic web analytics that are helpful to understand a user’s journey.