Together, your employees and tech stack provide a wealth of valuable knowledge and strategy for your organization. Employees may have specific customer insights or support strategies; your tech stack reveals data on how accounts may interact with your product and service.
The question is, are you able to access that knowledge? More importantly, how is that knowledge being leveraged to improve your employee or customer experience?
A knowledge management system (KMS) is a database of information, knowledge, and insight that provides key customer support. By aggregating key knowledge from different layers of an organization, a KMS can create a more successful experience for customers and the employees who help them.
A KMS is a system that organizes and manages information in a single location.
Knowledge management systems were first developed in the 1990s. When a generation of employees began to retire out of the workforce–and bring valuable methods and insights with them, companies began to realize the need to preserve organizational knowledge. As a result, they began to develop databases that collect valuable knowledge for both employees and customers.
Fast-forward 30 years, and we’re now in the “age of data.” 2.5 quintillion bytes of data are generated every day. That includes data generated by your organization, such as customer support interactions, customer analytics, documentation on processes, and more.
Some of this information will be more relevant to employees (such as analytics or onboarding documentation); other information may be more relevant to customers (such as simple FAQs, guidelines, tutorials, or resource downloads).
Either way, a KMS can help bring together this information in a way that helps organizations to surface new insights, increase efficiency, and deliver a better customer experience.
As mentioned above, a KMS can be outward-facing or strictly internal. Here are several forms that a KMS can take:
- Support articles, such as a database of support articles that help customers to resolve their own problems.
- An internal knowledge base that delivers specific insights to employees on how to help troubleshoot specific issues.
- An employee-facing collection of searchable information on customers–with reporting and analytics, customer feedback, and search results.
A knowledge management system may be used to empower support staff, educate customers, or simply offer vital information for your organization to continue to thrive. In any case, having a KMS will help create a better customer experience–whether you’re using analytics to show how customers engage with your product, or explaining a specific strategy for resolving a rare technical issue.
In the next section, we’ll take a look at specific strategies for using a KMS to provide a better experience for both your customers and employees.
A searchable knowledge management system can simplify the process of:
- Searching for help or support, such as through a self-service portal
- Providing support to a customer
- Gaining a better understanding of a customer’s history and behavior
Here are three strategies for using a knowledge management system to create a better experience for your support engineers and accounts.
Provide a self-service experience.
Most of your customers would prefer to resolve their own problems. Reading instructions or watching a video is simpler than contacting support staff–and reduces delays in getting the problem solved.
A self-service portal is essentially a knowledge management system that provides a database of self-help articles for your customers or clients. Typical self-service articles might provide information on:
- How to troubleshoot a technical issue
- How to use a specific feature of your product
- Pricing and subscription plans
- Specific use cases of your product
An effective self-service portal will include a search bar that makes it even easier to look for a solution or support. Using keywords or keyphrases, customers can immediately locate what they need to fix their problems and get on with their days. Siemens, for example, includes an effective, searchable self-service solution that’s directly accessible to the public.
Provide direct support to a customer.
In some cases, customers won’t be able to fix their own problems. Instead of using a self-service portal, they’ll need to contact support engineers.
Support engineers, or support staff, are the employees who fix problems for customers. Though they are well-equipped to help customers with a range of problems, support engineers still need to be resourced and supported to troubleshoot specific issues. For example, a customer of Airbus Helicopter may have a technical problem with an aircraft. A support engineer at Airbus will need to be extremely well-resourced to help that customer troubleshoot the problem and safely fix the issue.
An internal knowledge management system can help support engineers do their jobs more efficiently and effectively. Like a self-service portal, an internal knowledge management system may include articles and documentation on how to resolve specific issues, and on product features. However, unlike a self-service portal, an internal KMS will take a far deeper dive into technical support. It will also compare current cases to previous cases, giving support agents a better idea of how to support existing customers.
When an internal KMS is easily searchable, providing support is even more efficient. Customer support engineers can quickly locate and identify critical information they need to fix customer problems quickly and accurately.
Create a 360 degree view of customers.
To offer an excellent customer experience–including world-class support–support engineers and other employees need to have a rich understanding of customers.
This includes both a macro- and micro-view of customers. For example, it will benefit support staff to know that most customers are unable to resolve a specific issue on their own. It will also benefit support staff to know the behavior and purchase history of a specific customer.
A third form of knowledge management systems are 360 degree views of customers that give context to support and customer experience. A KMS may provide information about a customer’s subscriptions, support interactions, purchase history, and more. When paired with search, this kind of KMS can provide a better understanding of how to create more successful, profitable relationships with customers.
A knowledge management system isn’t inherently useful. To be truly effective for helping customers (and employees), it must communicate high-value insights in a way that’s organized and transparent.
Here are a few keys for building effective knowledge management systems:
- Use an enterprise search tool for surfacing key knowledge hiding within your data. Use that data to create documentation of key processes, strategies, and insights for solving problems. The enterprise search may even build a virtual global KMS by merging several data-sources into a single and consistent KM overview.
- Listen to your customers. What do they need to know about your product to have a better experience? How can your employees become better at helping them?
- Consider all types of knowledge. Some knowledge is explicit (i.e. description of product features), some knowledge is implicit (i.e. how to use a product feature), and some knowledge is tacit (i.e. how to combine strategies for a specific use case of your product).
Finally, ask multiple employees–especially customer-facing employees–to review knowledge management systems. What’s missing? What’s repetitive? What’s unclear or irrelevant? Remember that your team will have different perspectives and can offer different insights on how your organization delivers key knowledge.
Your organization has valuable knowledge on how to use your product or service, how to effectively help customers, customer behavior, industry knowledge, and more.
The greatest value of a knowledge management system is that it makes that information accessible to both customers and employees. It not only offers an organized view of valuable resources; it provides the search ability to sift through those resources. Whether utilized by customer support engineers, or customers who are looking for documented solutions, a KMS can help improve both customer and employee experience.