How To Improve Call Center Metrics With Knowledge Management

by | Customer Service

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Your call center agents are your organization’s frontline responders – the first point of contact between your organization and the customer (or, in some cases, potential customer). To the caller, the person on the other end of the phone line represents your company as a whole. It’s no surprise why leaders obsess over these contact center metrics—a caller’s customer experience (CX) with your call center reps can shape the caller’s opinion of the company in as little as mere minutes.

If your agents don’t quickly provide the answers to a customer’s questions or don’t know where to find answers, it’s a sure bet that the caller won’t consider that particular interaction a positive experience.

Knowledgeable, efficient call center agents can mean the difference between satisfied customers and those who run to social media to badmouth your company after a negative customer service interaction.

The solutions to improve the customer experience are everywhere—but have you considered the impact your company’s knowledge management strategy has on these call center performance metrics, like time on hold or first call resolution?

Schedule time to meet with your call center agents

If you take time to interview employees who access knowledge in one way or another you may be surprised at how many knowledge silos exist—and how many are out of date. If your goal is metric improvement, start by interviewing your agents, asses their knowledge management solution, uncover inefficiencies holding them back.

In the rest of this article, we’ll uncover a few knowledge management talking points to think about with your team—your company’s approach to knowledge impacts call center metrics more than you might think!

Eliminate knowledge silos so agents can find what they need faster

Knowledge silos form whenever a company doesn’t work from a single truth for knowledge. The more silos added the more difficult a knowledge manager’s job becomes. When any information, experience, or insight that could benefit others within the organization is inaccessible beyond the group or department that generated it, this “siloed” knowledge is essentially no good to anyone else.

The existence of knowledge silos can lead to frustrated call center agents spinning their wheels as they try to find answers to customer questions, while the customers, in turn, grow frustrated, impatient, and dissatisfied on hold – or, worse—simply abandon their calls.

Call center representatives will spend much less time researching, calling colleagues, or searching knowledge bases if the information is centralized and easily accessible.

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What does giving your call center agents easy access to relevant information mean to the customer experience? Less hold time, for one. For another, when your call center agents have information at their fingertips, the customer receives an immediate answer instead of requiring a transfer to another department or losing patience and calling back later.

The faster each rep can answer a customer’s question, the shorter the call, the sooner the agent can answer the next call. In this way, eliminating knowledge silos can impact various metrics and lead to call center improvement.

Integrate knowledge with your support or contact center platform

If your company’s knowledge strategy is essentially “every man for himself,” it can become an epic undertaking for a call center agent to find the answers they need to assist their customer. Where do they begin their search?

Agents benefit if they start with a centralized company knowledge hub that’s easy to search and navigate through. Never force your contact center representatives to switch to a different tab or program to find the answers to customers’ questions. This practice is common but unnecessary in this age of ever-evolving technology.

A modern knowledge management platform should integrate with tools your agents are already likely using (i.e. Salesforce to Genesys). Shelf’s Answer Assist actively listens for questions asked within calls, chats, or support tickets and proactively suggests the best answers to the call center agent.

You can shorten response times for your agents (and increase productivity) if you simply integrate knowledge into the agent environment.

Surface answer recommendations automatically

Want to improve call center metrics like queue times or time to first response? Make it easier for customers to serve themselves. The more questions a customer can answer on their own using AI, the less time the customers require from human representatives.

You can automate knowledge delivery in various ways, like integrating your company’s source of knowledge into your company’s chat to surface answer recommendations.

Customers expect self-serve options from most companies with whom they do business, but to truly impact the call center you need a modern knowledge management platform that can process intent and return back great recommendations.
There are many other ways the right KM platform can impact metrics for the better—like serving up recommendations to your agents using Answer Assist.

Answer assist technology

Let’s say your customer interacts with your voice response (IVR) system.  Knowledge solutions with an Answer Assist component can help call center agents generate recommendations using this IVR data with the click of a button.

Agents that have answers at their fingertips can simply handle more calls and help reduce wait times; solutions like Answer Assist will increase agent efficiency across the board if you offer it.

Ramp agents faster with a KM platform—eliminate excessive training

The breadth of information a call center representative must know at any given time is vast, but the specifics of that knowledge are also constantly changing.

Take a call center in the banking industry as an example. A call center agent may need to be knowledgeable about any of the following topics:

  • Fixed and variable interest rates
  • Various account fees
  • Branch hours
  • New product offerings

These topics are dense, agents should obviously be trained and upskilled to handle complex subjects; this doesn’t mean agents should have to memorize everything.

If you can make finding answers easier in the agent environment with integrated knowledge, you can reduce the time it takes to train new agents. Your company’s trainers can coach soft skills instead of requiring agents to memorize policies or information likely to change.

Integrated knowledge management in the call center means agents can quickly find answers to questions, without relying on memory alone—some answers recounted from memory can be pretty difficult to forget!

If you simply use a more capable knowledge management platform, your training team can save hours in required training and avoid human errors.

Ensure agents can effectively use your knowledge solution

Work with your company’s knowledge managers to ensure you have a KM platform agents can use easily; knowledge management software that is easy to use with a taxonomy that makes sense is one of the easiest ways to improve agent efficiency.

Your knowledge team should obtain feedback from call center agents to ensure what they are offering agents actually works well. Agents in a call center don’t always use the solution provided—many resort to sticky notes, Slack messages, even their own knowledge repositories.

Get agents on the same page, even if you’re using a knowledge base that’s limited in function. From there, you will be able to tell pretty quickly if it’s time to upgrade to a more capable knowledge management platform.

Fix problems with your knowledge management system

You’ve probably seen enough ‘fix your metrics” advice, but one thing is clear: quality knowledge source matters. Without clear strategy around your people, process, and technology, you won’t have a knowledge management strategy that can deliver better answers.

If you have a fragmented knowledge base or knowledge ‘modules’ scattered throughout your organization—don’t expect to improve many call center metrics. If agents can’t deliver the right answers (and customers can’t find what they need), you probably have a knowledge problem—and it’s not uncommon.

Leaders are slowly becoming more aware that knowledge is the problem (but it’s also the solution). Adding another knowledge base, another knowledge sharing solution, or loading old knowledge into new software won’t improve metrics in your call center.

To learn more about why and how a modern knowledge management solution can boost key metrics you report on like handle times, check out our webinar “Driving Contact Center Efficiency with Knowledge Management”.

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