How Knowledge Management Is Shaping the Employee and Customer Experience

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    The Great Resignation has placed the importance of the employee experience (EX) front and center. And as employees increasingly leave jobs where they feel burnt out or don’t believe they will have opportunities to grow professionally, businesses are struggling to fill the gaps, and the customer experience (CX) is taking a hit as a result. 

    The businesses that are weathering the Great Resignation most successfully are the ones that have strong knowledge management and engagement practices in place. Not only are they doing a better job of retaining valuable knowledge when tenured employees leave, but they are also enabling better employee experiences by ensuring employees can easily access the information they need to be successful. And when service representatives in particular can easily access information, they can more confidently and efficiently assist customers, leading to a better overall customer experience.

    In a TSIA webinar, Bloomfire’s Director of Customer Success, Emma Galdo, and TSIA’s Distinguished Researcher and VP of Technology Solutions, John Ragsdale, discussed how modern knowledge management is shaping both the employee and customer experience. Below, we’ve broken down seven key takeaways from their conversation. 

    The Changing Workplace Is Impacting Both Employees and Customers

    Hybrid work–with a mix of in-office and remote working–is becoming increasingly popular following “the Great Work-From-Home Experiment” prompted by the COVID-19 pandemic. In fact, 68% of employees say they would prefer to work in a hybrid environment long-term.

    However, both employees and businesses still face challenges in adjusting to new ways of working. While working remotely offers convenience and flexibility, it can also make it more difficult to feel engaged and to know where to go to find information. Employees may struggle with information overload: they know there’s a wealth of knowledge available to them, but without being able to turn to a team member in the office, they don’t always know how to surface the most relevant information.

    All these changes don’t just impact internal teams–they also impact customers. “It doesn’t matter what’s going on at your company internally,” said Emma. “Customers still want what they want, and they want it as fast as possible.”

    And when customers feel like they’re not getting what they want–or that they have to put in a high level of effort to get assistance–it can cost your company. One-third of customers say they will consider switching to a competing company after just one negative customer service interaction. 

    Sticking with the Status Quo Isn’t Cutting It

    A good knowledge management strategy allows employees across an organization to easily access and share relevant knowledge so that they can do their best work and deliver excellent customer experiences. Unfortunately, many companies still struggle with knowledge management, with 50% of business leaders reporting that their organizations have scattered or siloed knowledge management practices.

    Getting knowledge management right can be especially challenging for businesses in industries such as tech, where information needs to be updated frequently and employees need to be informed about these changes in real time. A strong knowledge management strategy needs to take into account the fact that knowledge evolves all the time and needs to be maintained. 

    Modern Knowledge Management Requires the Right Technology and Culture

    “Operational efficiency and culture are the key to unleashing great employee and customer experiences–and knowledge management is the driving force,” said Emma. But in order to succeed with knowledge management, businesses need to focus on a combination of technology and culture.

    According to John, many companies make the mistake of investing in technology without first considering the cultural changes they need to make to promote knowledge sharing. A 2021 TSIA study found that 82% of companies are planning to invest more in knowledge management technology. However, even though the majority of companies are making investments in technology, most wouldn’t rate their knowledge management programs highly: the same TSIA study found that on a 10-point scale, the average rating for a company’s culture of knowledge sharing was 6.38. 

    “This poor culture issue really started biting companies when the pandemic hit,” said John. “It’s one thing to all be in the same office where you’re kind of forced to share knowledge, but when everybody’s working from home, if knowledge sharing is not part of your culture, people feel very isolated.”

    Knowledge Engagement Must Be Built Into Your Processes

    Building a culture of knowledge sharing requires first making knowledge engagement part of your processes. This starts from the top down: according to Emma, leadership team members can encourage knowledge sharing by contributing to the organization’s knowledge management platform themselves. 

    Emma also recommended building knowledge sharing into employees’ job requirements. When employees know that sharing and engaging with company knowledge is part of what they are being evaluated on, it will become baked into their daily routine.

    Finally, Emma stressed the importance of establishing a sense of psychological safety so that employees feel they can share their knowledge and ideas without facing negative repercussions. Employees should be recognized and rewarded for contributing knowledge and should see how their contributions help support business goals.

    Knowledge Management Must Be Proactive

    Another key ingredient for making knowledge management successful is ensuring employees can access the information they need as easily as possible. John pointed out that there is a direct correlation between employee effort and satisfaction–and by extension, customer effort and satisfaction. “Ultimately, I think where we need to go is looking at how we enable our employees,” said John. “How do we make sure this knowledge is in their face proactively, contextually, provided to them while they’re doing their work?”

    While a powerful search engine is an important starting point for knowledge enablement, organizations should also be looking for solutions that intelligently connect users with the knowledge they need through features such as content recommendations or customized feeds based on user’s roles. The less effort it takes employees to access the right knowledge, the more effective they can be, and the more satisfied they will feel in their work.

    Growing Your Collective Knowledge Positively Impacts CX

    When people regularly share and engage with knowledge across their organization, valuable and diverse perspectives are elevated, and businesses are better positioned to improve their operations. “Productivity and operational efficiency impact the bottom line, and we need the collective intelligence of employees, of the entire enterprise. That is an accelerator and a competitive advantage,” said Emma.

    These operational improvements directly impact the customer experience, added Emma. “If a knowledge management program is built into your processes and expectations, you will be able to move faster and better predict the needs of your customers.” All employees have on-demand access to the organization’s collective knowledge, which means customers receive consistent and timely information no matter who they are speaking to or what channel they use to contact your company. 

    Leaders Must Demonstrate That Knowledge Is a Strategic Advantage

    While a great knowledge management strategy can have a positive impact on both the employee and customer experience, organizations ultimately need support from the top down to make their knowledge management program a success. “One of the biggest challenges that I’ve seen with organizations is getting that executive level buy-in to understand that knowledge is going to be a strategic advantage,” said Emma.

    So how can department or team leaders get their executives on board with a knowledge management initiative? “What I’ve seen work for a lot of organizations is to start small and then show the data,” said Emma. “Choosing a platform that’s going to have robust analytics paired with your own internal analytics on [metrics such as] call handle times…you need to be able to prove that out to win over those more hesitant executives.”

    Launching a knowledge management pilot program within one department, such as customer service, and sharing key performance indicators can help executives see how knowledge management is contributing to a better employee and customer experience. After securing that executive buy-in, you can expand the knowledge management initiative across the organization so that all employees have the knowledge they need to positively contribute to the company’s customer experience.

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