Busy season is right around the corner. When calls start picking up, you need your customer service agents to be on their A-game. After all, 96% of customers rank customer service high when deciding whether to be loyal to a brand.
When agents are inundated with a high volume of calls, fast and accurate answers can make all the difference. Are you supporting agents with great answers at their fingertips during the most stressful time of the year?
If you need to improve customer service in your contact center, knowledge management is the place to start—many contact center metrics are negatively impacted due to findability problems that stem from a poor knowledge management system.
Your team needs a great source of knowledge during the busy season to support customers, so today we’ll outline 10 strategies you can use to optimize your knowledge base.
1. Create an intuitive taxonomy for knowledge
One way to improve your knowledge base is to optimize your overall taxonomy, or how your knowledge base classifies important content.
Ensure your knowledge base’s folder hierarchy and categorization makes sense to those using your knowledge base the most, like agents. Check out our post on why knowledge management must include tags to learn more about how tags compliment folders and make it easier to find content.
Articles and other knowledge types need to be organized to keep metrics like time on hold at a minimum; a well-organized knowledge base that’s easy to use plays a big role in keeping these metrics optimal.
Ideally, you need great answers to find agents (instead of the other way around), but for times agents must browse for something—an intuitive taxonomy can speed up the search process.
2. Integrate knowledge where you can
The fewer tabs your agents have to open, the better.
For frequently asked questions, agents need to be able to access answers conveniently within the ticketing or CCaaS platform they use. Many knowledge bases simply don’t have great integration capabilities as knowledge management platforms do but the easier you make knowledge acesss, the better.
Your main source of company knowledge should ideally be integrated into applications agents of customers go to for knowledge, like:
- Contact center platforms
- Phone systems (IVRs)
- Self-help portals
- Forms (suggestions before submission)
To keep answers consistent, it’s always better to integrate knowledge than duplicate knowledge or spin up new knowledge silos that must be maintained.
You may want to check out DMG Consulting’s Knowledge Management for the Enterprise report if you’re considering graduating from a knowledge base to an enterprise knowledge management platform with these integration capabilities.
3. Identify content gaps
One of the most frustrating parts of working at a call center is receiving a call you can’t answer. Oftentimes, knowledge base searches come up empty which can lead to agents providing incorrect answers or no answer at all.
Before the busy season hits, check to see if your knowledge base returns empty search queries. If not, you can at least interview agents and other employees on FAQs that need to be documented.
This routine knowledge management work can be automated by more advanced KM platforms, but your knowledge management team should make time to address gaps in knowledge most likely to impact your customer’s experience.
You may be able to close gaps in knowledge by updating existing articles or content types already produced; other times you may need to create new content.
4. Store and manage content in one place
The best way to ensure that your customer service agents can find the information they need is to keep knowledge in one location. If agents waste time switching from one knowledge base to SharePoint to Slack, to their email inbox, you won’t provide a good experience for customers.
You can’t expect knowledge managers to maintain content in private folders or other places people keep documents, so formalize a process to aggregate knowledge into one location. Even if your knowledge base doesn’t do everything you need it to do, knowledge managers can at least work to keep the information contained updated.
If you find that agents are still going elsewhere for information, you may need to either optimize your knowledge base for findability or consider other knowledge management tools better suited for customer support—not just internal use.
5. Eliminate duplicate content
Duplicate content can be just as frustrating for your customer service team as missing content — especially if it contains out-of-date information. The best way to eliminate duplicate content is to invest in a knowledge management tool that automatically identifies and flags it for you.
If your KM system can’t do this automatically, or you have documents that are similar but not the same, you can have your customer service team notate whenever they come across duplicate content.To avoid duplicate knowledge articles in the future, ensure you have an approval workflow to replace old documentation as needed—instead of uploading new versions.
Using a knowledge base with version history or version comparison features can help; at minimum, ensure employees understand your process of archiving or flagging duplicate content.
6. Create content in the right formats
You can have all the right answers available for an agent to deliver to a customer—but why make this information inconvenient to access?
Long-form articles, while occasionally useful, can be difficult to parse through while customer service representatives are on the phone with customers. This can make your average handle time longer than necessary.
Breaking down long-form documents into simple wikis, FAQs, or step-by-step decision trees, you make it easier for agents to deliver information.
7. Optimize self service channels
One of the easiest ways to expedite phone calls and reduce the stress of the busy season is to limit the number of calls coming in. Another way to decrease volume is to assess the knowledge base used for different self-service channels. This includes:
- Auditing all website support channels (self help portals, FAQs, chatbots, tutorials)
- Reviewing all responses provided via your IVR system
- Improving the quality of all public-facing documentation customers use frequently
8. Collect and process customer feedback
To improve knowledge, you need a way for customers to give you feedback when they encounter incorrect or unhelpful information. A simple thumbs up, thumbs down, or even direct feedback provided to agents can help you identify articles and other knowledge types you need to improve.
Without this feedback mechanism, you can only guess what types of content aren’t up to par—especially if your knowledge base can’t track and report on content performance.
Customer satisfaction surveys sent immediately after calls are one way to collect data on content gaps. No matter where you process customer feedback, you need a system to relay this feedback to your team of knowledge managers who can update your knowledge base as needed.
9. Broadcast important announcements to agents
There’s nothing worse than when a customer brings up a holiday promo completely unfamiliar to agents. The last thing you want is for your customer service team to be caught off-guard by something that comes up on a call.
That’s why it’s crucial to have a system for broadcasting important announcements to agents as they come in.
If agents spend time in your knowledge base, an integrated announcement feature is important to utilize when important changes are made to knowledge base content.
When customer service agents log in for the first time in a day, enterprise KM platforms like Shelf can force agents to acknowledge certain announcements. Always integrate announcement features where your agents spend time if possible. Announcements are a great way to keep all customer support team members up to speed, even if someone missed your last full–staff meeting.
10. Perform a full scale knowledge audit
Another helpful step to prepare for your busy season is to assess your entire knowledge base and all processes and people involved.
Start by evaluating your knowledge management team—all knowledge managers, technical admins, subject matter experts, and contributors. It’s also a good idea to spend time with agents to identify problems they may be having with your knowledge base.
You may find a lack of process has led to agents not knowing where to look first for answers; other problems you encounter may be limitations with your knowledge base software.
Many enterprises eventually graduate from knowledge bases to knowledge management platforms when findability issues arise during the busier months.
Navigate busy season—Follow knowledge management best practices
Always assess the features of your current knowledge base and whether or not your employees find it easy to use. The key to handling spikes in call volume hinges on findability and usability of knowledge, and no two companies are the same.
If you serve thousands of customers and field highly technical and complex questions, it’s probably time to graduate to a knowledge management platform that can automate work and deliver knowledge a lot easier than a knowledge base.
Even if you’re trying to make the best of your knowledge base for now, ensure you follow a few core knowledge management best practices (some of which we’ve covered in this post).
You may have a ton of knowledge in multiple locations, but a lot of knowledge doesn’t equate to accurate knowledge or helpful knowledge. It’s never too late to add structure or process related to knowledge management so you’ll be prepared for peak season.