Solving the toughest knowledge management problems for customer service agents

Ruby Epstein

August 26, 2020

Searching for the answers to burning customer issues in a short amount of time makes it hard for your agents to do their jobs.

You’ll have a hard time building a house if someone hands you only a hammer. It’s one thing to give your agents the tools you think they’ll need to succeed, and another to make sure they’re able to integrate and use them effectively. Here are the toughest, most common pain points we see, tips from industry experts, and ways to ensure your agents are leaning on your knowledge management service to provide the highest quality customer experience possible.

Problem 1: Sacrificing accuracy and customer experience for efficiency

You can’t expect your agents to be able to use a clunky knowledge management system to say all the right words while also helping customers at lightning speed. Agents typically have to give up one or the other, and for the sake of the customer choose to produce a “good enough” answer in lieu of spending time searching through documentation. This, in turn, creates an inconsistent customer service voice and may lead to significant discrepancies. 


“In my 9 years in the industry, I have not looked up information for 95% of customer interactions. I just wing it and depend on learning on the job. How can I look up so much information and still hit a 115 second AHT target?” – from a conversation with a veteran agent


SOLUTION: IMPLEMENT AGENT RESPONSE QUALITY REVIEW AT SCALE
Your agents should be able to prioritize giving the right answer, without sacrificing customer experience and handling time. It is possible now to review the quality of agent responses vs. the expected script they were supposed to follow or the resources they were meant to use. An automated solution can review 100% of interactions to identify answer quality issues. This is the new world of AI based QA evaluation. 

That said, you cannot implement quality review without first fixing the underlying agent stressors and pain points, which brings us to…

Problem 2: Searching for the right answers in a clunky knowledge management system

Knowledge management databases and search features are clunky, hard to access quickly, and not intuitively designed. Data is often split across multiple sources including CRM platforms, Wiki Pages, and SOP documentation. Juggling a variety of storage locations is overwhelming for agents, especially when low AHT is so critical.  Plus, existing enterprise search features are extremely limited and do not work effectively in the short amount of time agents do have.

Solution: LET YOUR KNOWLEDGE MANAGEMENT SYSTEM DO THE HARD WORK BY IMPROVING SEARCH AND CAPTURING IN
Integrations with your knowledge management system can easily capture FAQs across the organization. Implementing tools that automatically put the right information at the agent’s fingertips eliminates the need for ineffective keyword search and arms your agents with instantaneous knowledge so they can quickly and effectively help customers. Optimizing KM search will empower and incentivize agents to do a better job by taking their minds off their toughest pain points so they can spend more time focused on the customer.

Problem 3: Reliance on intuition and muscle memory to answer questions leads to errors 

To effectively address your biggest pain points, you first have to get inside your agents’ heads and understand the differences between tacit and explicit knowledge.

A quick psychology lesson:
Tacit knowledge: insights, intuitions, experientially learned knowledge
Explicit knowledge: codified, documented, fixed information

When you onboard a new agent, or when your experienced agents are using a “close enough” answer, there are significant discrepancies between the tacit knowledge of your agents and the explicit knowledge that you’re hoping they use. But with 44% of customers reporting having received incorrect answers, letting your agents give answers from tacit memory alone is not effective.

SOLUTION: MAKE THE “KNOWLEDGE” AVAILABLE IN REAL TIME SO AGENTS CAN REDUCE THE TEMPTATION OF USING MUSCLE MEMORY
If your agents want to go off-book, then they need to have their lines memorized and automatically receive live cues. Giving your agents the right information at the right time will help them provide the right answer every time. Plus, learning the exact language will make them more efficient and accurate in the future. Let your agents call “Line!” instead of doing improv.

Above all, listen to your agents. Figure out what’s working, what’s not, and what they need from you to be successful. Your agents are at the center of your customer experience – put yourself in their shoes, and ensure that they are happy, well-equipped, and invested in providing the highest quality customer experience possible.

Ruby Epstein

August 26, 2020

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