Customer Service Software

Customer Support Knowledge Management: 5 Tips for Superior Service

Published by in Customer Service Software

“Knowledge is Power.”

Some may see this as an over-used cliché, but it still holds true today – especially in customer support.

Customer Support Knowledge Management

In fact, you likely hear/see/read a lot about “knowledge management” these days. Knowledge management is the collection, organization, and sharing of information, and it’s a key component in business success.

Unfortunately, many articles focus on generalities. There’s a dearth of information on how effective impact knowledge management can improve customer support specifically. Making knowledge management an integral part of your customer support operation is critical for both customer satisfaction and agent productivity.

In customer support, relevant knowledge includes data such as customer profiles and history and effective troubleshooting techniques.

So how can knowledge management help you provide better customer support? Here are five tactics I’ve learned as CEO and Founder of TeamSupport, a B2B customer support software company, for using knowledge management to its maximum potential in customer support:

Use a Centralized Support System

Every person who has ever contacted customer support has been forced to repeat the same information (name, company, product used) multiple times to multiple reps.

Not only is this frustrating for the customer, it means that the company has multiple reps inputting the same information as well. This is not an efficient use of their time.

Effectively managing customer information means using a collaborative customer support system that consolidates information into one central database that every representative can access. This eliminates repetition for both your customer and your support team.

Share Knowledge Within the Company

Okay, so now you have software that stores all the information you need to provide exceptional customer support.

What’s next? Here are the five things you need to do for A+ customer service knowledge management.

1. Build an Internal Knowledge Base

An internal knowledge base lets your support team share information with each other and other departments, increasing productivity and customer satisfaction while reducing support costs. Think of it as a central “brain,” where you can share information like standard practices and processes company-wide or within specific departments.

The key to an efficient knowledge base is to keep it relevant – the information should be up-to-date and address the issues that come up on a regular basis. Use your metrics to understand what information customers are most often searching for, or what questions are asked the most frequently – when one of these issues is resolved, create a knowledge base or wiki article so that the resolution is readily available for future inquiries.

A study by McKinsey showed that improving internal collaboration and communication can increase productivity from 25-35% by eliminating the amount of research needed and time spent finding answers to common questions.

Customer Support Knowledge Management

2. Train Support Agents to Keep Detailed Customer Notes

Train every member of your team to put detailed notes on every customer interaction into your support system.

Doing so ensures that anyone your customer contacts will understand their history and be able to provide a better customer experience, not to mention a personalized experience because they know who the customer is and what issues they’ve had in the past.

3. Use Internal Collaboration to Share Knowledge Instantly

Sharing information among colleagues leads to faster issue resolution for your customers, and a more robust support team overall. Internal collaboration tools like group-based ticket management and internal chat allow your employees to learn from one another and help customers as a team. This is especially beneficial for new hires, who can benefit from the collective knowledge of the organization to learn faster and speed up the learning curve, making them a more productive employee for you as well. Let’s say a customer contacts support with a complicated issue and the rep who first addresses the ticket doesn’t know the answer.

According to Consumer Reports, 70 percent of Americans are highly annoyed when they’re transferred to a customer support rep who either can’t help them or provides a wrong answer.

Knowledge-based collaborative customer support eliminates both of these frustrations. With collaborative tools the agent doesn’t have to put the customer on hold, or pass them off to another agent. They can simply post the question to the team and provide the answer to the customer. The customer is happy to have a fast response, and the agent gets to improve his/her knowledge.

4. Share Knowledge With Your Customers

Using an external knowledge base to share information with your customers can reduce the number of incoming requests, as well as improve the efficiency of your support agents.

Customer support teams spend a lot of time answering simple how-to questions or providing training to customers. One very common example is how to reset a password – any business who provides a software or technology solution encounters this question on a frequently recurring basis.

Creating FAQ pages and a customer knowledge base can eliminate these routine requests, freeing your agents to focus on more critical or complex issues. According to a survey by Coleman Parkes, 91% of respondents said they would use a knowledge base if it were available to them. Here are some tips for building an external knowledge base:

  • Optimize your information for search engines
  • Make sure important information shows up first
  • Organize information by category, product, or business type for easier usability
  • Cover the basics: simple how-to questions, answers to common questions, technical data sheets
  • Use images and videos to better explain more complicated solutions
  • Use a support software that has an integrated knowledge base so that no duplicate entry is necessary – a ticket solution can be automatically turned into a knowledge base article

Check out six steps for building an amazing self-service support site for more information on how to build an awesome knowledge base.

And then check out TeamSupport in Cathy’s comparison of three knowledge base software solutions.

5. Incorporate Knowledge Management Across Channels

Knowledge management also refers to combining information across channels and functions. Regardless of whether a customer request comes in via phone, email, chat, or social media, it’s important to have it all collected and consolidated in a single system, so that you can maintain visibility of the entire customer relationship and not let anything slip through the cracks.

Offer your customers a support portal where they can access knowledge base articles, submit tickets, chat live with an agent or even participate in community forums where customers can help each other.

Using a customer support software that has integrated knowledge management will allow you to use knowledge base articles to support ticket deflection – providing suggested solutions when a customer is searching for answers, or even as they are starting a ticket.

Ticket deflection reduces the amount of incoming support tickets and frees agents to spend time on more complicated issues, but it also improves customer support by providing the information customers need quickly and easily.

6. Move From Reactive, to Proactive Customer Support

Forbes cited research that shows proactive customer support can not only boost customer retention by 3 to 5%, but also reduce inbound customer service call volumes by as much as 30%. “Consumers are pleased when they call a company for an order status and the company’s systems recognize who is calling and can anticipate their inquiry,” Richard Shapiro told me for Help Desk Technology Trends for 2016.

Conclusion

Once you implement knowledge management you will find you have a lot of data to help better understand your customers and your support organization. This knowledge will allow you to better predict future issues that may arise from similar customers and situations, so that you can take a proactive approach to customer support.

For example, you can add to your external knowledge base and self-service options by including best practices that are relevant to your customers’ industry or business case. You can identify common issues among your customers and use these queries to provide step by step instructions, or to better organize your self-service options.

You could even design an online, self-guided training program to address the most common issues and ease the burden on your support team. After all, as you use knowledge management to improve your customer support, you’ll find that you have more customers to support – because happy customers mean more customers.

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About the Author

Robert Johnson

Robert Johnson

Robert Johnson, a seasoned tech executive and entrepreneur, is CEO of TeamSupport, a cloud-based B2B customer support software that helps companies improve customer satisfaction while reducing support costs. His motto is “happy customers mean more customers”.

Comments

Comment by Royan Braun on

Hi Robert,

Excellent write-up.

I would like to add a point. To improve service, a knowledge base should be followed feedback approach.

A knowledge base should be designed with a purpose and it is key to find out if the knowledge is proving helpful or not. According to me, client feedback is the most efficient way to fine-tune the content so that the best answers are delivered on time.

A rich comments section or a ‘thumbs up’ could come in handy. In simple words, feedback drives content quality and boosts the performance of a knowledge base.

Comment by Darya Yafimava on

As customer service should always go together with sales (I think this is generally accepted and needs no explanation), it’s indeed important to avoid duplicating data across dedicated applications that these teams use. Another option for a collaborative solution? Integrating the customer service system with the CRM (two-way) and manage customer data from here, in single-view customer profiles. CRM goes well with live chats, call centers, self-service customer portals and email marketing, which means all the needs for both inbound and outbound communication can be covered. And with proactive customer support, we enter the area of customer experience management. To illustrate my point, here’s one of our articles on the subject: https://www.scnsoft.com/blog/a-practical-guide-to-crm-as-a-customer-experience-platform

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