Raise your hand if you’ve ever been the unfortunate victim of an uninformed customer support specialist. You call or email support, and the so-called expert doesn’t have a clue as to how to answer your question, and doesn’t express any interest in finding out, either.
Everyone? That’s what we thought.
A solution exists to ensure that your own customers never have a similar experience when interacting with your customer support specialists. It’s called knowledge centered support, and when you have achieved it, you have achieved customer support nirvana.
Knowledge centered support, or KCS, is a set of best practices for creating and maintaining knowledge in work environments that are knowledge-centric. Just like digitization or digital transformation, having KCS does not mean solely throwing more software into your customer support tool box. It is first and foremost a people process. People provide knowledge, people record knowledge, and people use knowledge to provide the best customer support possible.
Knowledge centered support revolves around four ultimate goals:
- Produce new content as a result of problem solving.
- Expand and review pre-existing popular content.
- Centralize up-to-date, relevant company knowledge.
- Incentivize social learning, knowledge sharing, and collaboration.
The eight steps to achieving KCS nirvana are commonly depicted in what is referred to as the knowledge centered support double process loop. The first half of the loop is labeled the solve loop. The solve loop is the 4 step process of solving a problem experienced by a customer.
The flow of knowledge surrounding any particular issue begins with the customer. When you or a member of your customer support team receives an inquiry, it is imperative that you document that knowledge using the customer’s words.
In order to document customer support knowledge in a way that is searchable, organized, and efficient, a knowledge management solution is in order. If knowledge centered support is nirvana, a quality knowledge management solution is yoga – the tool that will assist you in reaching your best self (in this case, your best team).
Create a post in your knowledge management system to document the inquiry, along with any other relevant information or attachments.
Pro tip: The sooner you document, the better. Immediacy increases the chance that the details of the interaction will be recorded as accurately as possible.
Structure your customer support knowledge by creating a template for customer support reps to follow while documenting inquiries. There are several benefits to this practice:
- Consistency. Consistency makes information easily searchable. With structured posts, customer support reps know exactly what they are going to find when they search for a word of phrase in your Knowledge Management System.
- Guidance. A well developed template will guide newer customer support reps through calls and serve as reminder of what information must be gathered from the customer.
If your customer support team is diligent about documentation, reusing knowledge will be a breeze, and this is the first step where you begin to see the benefits of KCS. Every time a new inquiry is received, the assigned customer support team member should search the knowledge management system for previous posts surrounding the same issue. Someone else may have already identified a solution, or at least provided some additional information that will point you in the right direction.
In order for this step to be effective, make sure your knowledge management solution has a powerful search engine. Otherwise, you may miss out on valuable information and waste time conducting repetitive research.
No one can reach nirvana without constant self-improvement, and customer support nirvana (knowledge centered support) is no different. By following the first three steps of the KCS process, you will likely build up quite a collection of valuable knowledge, and information that becomes outdated or irrelevant will inhibit employees from providing the best customer support possible.
To improve the knowledge living in your knowledge management solution, adopt a content curation strategy. Divide and conquer within your team by splitting up the posts in your community, and having each team member comb through their assigned posts to identify content that is outdated or irrelevant. Mark posts as green for no change necessary, yellow for relevant but requiring improvement, and red for no longer relevant.
This improvement will provide the clarity necessary in your community to easily capture, search, and reuse knowledge.
As with all good things, achieving knowledge centered support requires hard work, patience, and a willingness to change. The good news is, your team already possesses the knowledge necessary to make the change. All that’s left is to take the necessary steps to harness that knowledge and channel it into knowledge centered support.
To read part two of 8 Steps to Reaching Knowledge Centered Support Nirvana, click here.