The right knowledge, delivered to the customer or the customer service agent at the right time in the service resolution process, is critical to a successful interaction. When done correctly, knowledge personalizes an interaction, increases customer satisfaction, reduces call handle time, and leads to operational efficiencies.

Embarking on a knowledge management project is hard. Concerns include:

  • Worries about cultural readiness and adoption. Many executives don’t understand how activities done by a knowledge team translate into real business outcomes and don’t support these programs with the adequate resources for success.
  • Concerns about making content findable. The best content is useless if it can’t be found when needed. “Findability” has to do with search technology, a solid information architecture, and giving users alternate methods to search for retrieving knowledge.
  • Questions about keeping content timely. Knowledge must be kept current, and new knowledge must be published in a timely manner so that it can be used to answer new questions as they arise.

In my "Best Practices: Knowledge Management For Customer Service" report, you will find six categories of best practices to follow with more than 40 best practices statements.

  1. Align the organization for success. A knowledge management initiative requires an executive sponsor, a project team, proper project management, a rollout and adoption strategy.  
  2. Design a framework for knowledge management. Knowledge base content must be easy to find and use. Before starting to create content, determine usage roles, content sources, content standards, and information architecture and localization requirements.
  3. Create and maintain usable knowledge. Knowledge base content must be fresh, usable, and contain the “right” number of solutions so as to not overwhelm the user. Content must be created in the user’s words. Authors should include frontline agents, and authoring workflows must be flexible so that new content can be added quickly.
  4. Empower customers with relevant content. A good web self-service site must be usable, personalized, include guidance to the right content, and allow escalation to alternate contact channels such as chat.
  5. Focus on the agent experience. An agent's knowledge base must be personalized to his role, allow access to contextual knowledge, and must be integrated with case management tools for operational efficiencies.
  6. Continually improve knowledge management practices. Your knowledge base is never complete. You must follow periodic processes to check the health of the knowledge base. You must also ensure that your knowledge program is staffed to support periodic maintenance activities.

You can also read how VMWare, NetezzaSymantec and Woodmen of the World realized a quantifiable ROI for their knowledge management initiatives.