Since the onset of the COVID pandemic, customers have found themselves in completely different circumstances, and support organizations have had to field new requests and new questions—often unprecedented and even unimaginable.
How support organizations react and respond is paramount to ensure delivery of a winning customer experience but also to keep employees engaged during chaotic times. Agents are now working entirely from home and no longer have management on-site to guide them. The need to onboard, train and multiskill agents has never been more pronounced. Moreover, agents need help from IT and HR to access resources and answers.
Organizations are challenged in managing remote teams of agents who are suddenly required to tackle new tasks and may have new team members who are inexperienced.
All total, there’s a concerted need to ensure that customers and agents can deal with change clearly, consistently and effectively when the context to inform their response is changing rapidly.
Knowledge, Cloud and AI to the Rescue
Knowledge management can help consolidate the tacit, tribal knowledge now highly geographically dispersed and fragmented across the organization, and proactively provide solutions quickly and clearly—improving the organizational velocity to meet the pace of change.
Today’s next-generation knowledge management platforms are benefiting from the infusion of artificial intelligence. This puts cognition into the knowledge platform, removing the onus of manual tagging and linking concepts. Cognitive search understands what information is being sought out of the box, with no administrative or IT effort. This enhances the usability while improving speed to value of knowledge.
This automated, intelligent and efficient way to connect people to knowledge, ushering in a new era of “Knowledge Anywhere,” has never come at a better time. Over the past year, seven significant customer and employee COVID use cases have emerged.
1. Automate Contextual Knowledge to Provide Answers Even Before the Question is Asked.
The COVID crisis only advanced the pervasive need we were already seeing in the support environment to inject contextually relevant or trending knowledge directly at point of need to assist user journeys in flight. Specific parameters or clues from the journey trigger the presentation of relevant knowledge with zero effort. Customers continue their journeys uninterrupted, without needing to navigate to Help, or perform a search, to get their questions answered before even asking the question. At Verint, we refer to this paradigm as zero-click knowledge. This has been quintessential to support smart, responsive customer service both for online self-serve models, and to agents on the support front lines.
2. Triage Inbound Contacts and Resolve Questions Before They Reach the Support Organizations.
Knowledge-infused decision trees embedded into smart contact forms guide customers to the appropriate contact method. This has been tremendously effective in helping relieve agents from high inbound call volumes and reduce customer frustration with long call hold times.
Customers can make selections about what they need help with, and filter down to the specific channel. As they continue filling out the form, the experience becomes tailored to their circumstances, giving more specific suggestions automatically and contextually according to the choices made.
Organizations can adjust the flow, paths and outcomes through a simple graphical editor with no need for IT involvement. They can adapt and change to inbound demands or strategic business decisions on an hour-by-hour or as-needed basis.
3. Simplify Onboarding of New Employees.
At the heart of next-gen knowledge management is the cognitive engine, allowing customers or agents the ability to search in their own terminology to get the answers they seek. This supports the changing workforce to adapt to new demands, quickly, with limited training time or even ability to train.
For example, if a customer conducts a search for “longer mortgage,” the system understands that a customer is looking to change the term, the length or mortgage type, without an administrator needing to train the system or manually link or tag those terms. It also clusters related content around what the customer is doing, anticipates what the next question might be, and gives the option to continue without a further search.
This supports quick and effective cross-skill or multiskill agent development, and even staff not accustomed to working in the contact center environment, by giving them access to more topics without the need for extensive background expertise. One of our customers has been able to rapidly redeploy and multiskill their agents in only two days, with reliance on the system providing these newly trained agents with the knowledge to do their jobs.
4. Providing the Best Path to Progress.
Breaking down existing or new complex processes into step-by-step guides as decision trees can make learning more manageable, and information more consumable. Multiple pathways can exist in one process, so decision trees can guide staff to the right answer, more efficiently, with less training up front. Decision trees can reduce the effort and experience required to handle interactions, allowing lower-skilled, more recently onboarded staff to handle more complex issues, and actually do this faster. This reduces information overload for new or changed-skill staff and reduces time to answer. We’ve seen customers that were able to actually increase their talk-time—so useful to express empathy for vulnerable or concerned customers—but still reduce average handling time significantly by achieving operational efficiencies through decision trees and reducing search time.
5. Employee Engagement—Effectively Communicate Change.
With remote work now the default, reliance on tools for digital communication rather than huddles, team meetings or stand-ups is critical, as is the ability to effectively push changes and track adoption of those changes.
Knowledge assists organizations in publishing change notifications immediately and targeting communications to specific teams as needed. Agents can see how many items are outstanding, and what they need to consume at the beginning of a shift, or any time during their shift. Managers can track consumption to understand if something is read/understood, or read and NOT understood, to guide appropriate follow-up actions—i.e., training or guidance.
6. Crowdsourcing from the Front Lines to Foster Continuous Improvement.
Pushing knowledge to remote workers is crucial, but so too is garnering feedback from those experts on the front lines. If agents are getting asked questions and the answer doesn’t exist in the knowledge base, or is incorrect, they need a mechanism to correct it in a compliant way. It’s not just a case of taking suggestions, as we may need to engage with them to get clarity; organizations need to be able to respond and communicate with agents for knowledge curation.
Knowledge suggestions (including answers) and knowledge feedback with time-saving predefined tags allow that flow of knowledge, or improvement back in from the remote workforce, into a workflow controlled by the content owners. This enables that tacit, tribal knowledge to be captured permanently and accessed by all.
One of our clients has seen 40 agent submissions per day on average, allowing them to grow and improve their knowledge asset significantly since going live—by sourcing what was missing and what needs fixing from agents.
7. Minding the Gaps.
Comprehensive knowledge analytics support analysis of what gaps in knowledge exist, enabling organizations to pinpoint the specific relevant information needed based on both agent feedback and knowledge gap reporting. This provides the best of both worlds in terms of expanding an organization’s knowledge base in a relevant way using both crowdsourced knowledge and analytics.
Riding the Tides of Change
As the old adage goes, change is hard. This past year has been monumentally difficult for customers, for agents and for managers. Employing a next-gen knowledge management approach ensures the context that informs and guides support processes and interactions is agile and fluid to ensure organizations can ride the tides of change and provide exceptional service.