Top 3 Myths of Knowledge Management for Customer Service

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For years now, the Knowledge Management industry has been laboring under the misguided notion that when it comes to customer and self-service, content (often in the form of documents) is king. The more you have, (and the more efficiently you can index what you have by keyword), the better.

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Top 3 Myths of Knowledge Management for Customer Service

  1. 1. IR KNOWLEDGE SERIESThe Top Three Myths of KnowledgeManagement for Customer Service(Why KM is Hurting Your Customers,and What You Can Do About It)“The definition of insanity is doing the samething over and over again and expectingdifferent results”– Albert Einstein
  2. 2. The Top Three Myths of Knowledge Management for Customer Service 1(Why KM is Hurting Your Customers, and What You Can Do About It)For years now, the Knowledge Managementindustry has been laboring under themisguided notion that when it comes tocustomer and self-service, content (oftenin the form of documents) is king. The moreyou have, (and the more efficiently you canindex what you have by keyword), the better.This rather insular notion is at the heart of why Typically, this collection of “artefacts” is what isKM is hurting the customer experience for many captured by CRM and ECM solutions, indexedorganizations. The bottom line is that Customer with search tools and delivered under the guise ofRelationship Management (CRM), Content knowledge management. Unfortunately, many ofManagement (CMS & ECM) and intelligent search these artefacts have little benefit to the individualsolutions all get a failing grade when evaluated who is attempting to answer a question. It’s likelyagainst today’s customer and eService challenges. not a surprise for those in the industry to hear thatAs a result, many corporate efforts designed to when in inquiry mode, customers want answers, notenhance self and e-Service options often fail the documents to search through, or lists of possiblevery people they were designed to help: the end answers that may or may not help them.customers.Further compounding the problem is the factthat most of the solutions in the marketplace Customers want answers, notapply similarly flawed approaches to themanagement and delivery of content for documents to search through,customer service (usually in the form of or lists of possible answers thatindexed key words sprinkled across multipledocuments). Unfortunately, this often leads to may or may not helpdissatisfied customers being forced to engage theorganization through higher cost channels, orworse yet, engage the competition. The use of most CRM, ECM or CMS technologiesHow we as an industry came to be where we to deliver customer self-service or eService deliversare is not surprising really. In a typical fortune results from a content-centric, versus consumer500 company there are hundreds of thousands centric1 point-of-view. Under this paradigm, theof “digital artefacts” representing the internal delivery of information ceases to be all about the“knowledge” of the organization. In addition, customer, and becomes all about the content.many of these same organizations host thousandsof web pages on both private and public facing The reality is that at the moment, the KM industrycompany sites. is boiling the proverbial ocean, and approaching the problem from the wrong vantage point. In a customer service or self-service scenario, most requisite knowledge can be effectively encapsulated into a much smaller digital footprint by focusing on the nature of the question, not the nature of the answer.1 A consumer from our perspective is anyone who consumes or utilizes the information internally or externally
  3. 3. The Top Three Myths of Knowledge Management for Customer Service 2(Why KM is Hurting Your Customers, and What You Can Do About It)Customers Want Answers, Not DocumentsBy approaching the problem from the consumerperspective (i.e. I want short, succinct answers tomy questions, not documents to search through), The KM industry is boilingwe drive up engagement and satisfaction, drivedown delivery costs and satisfy the customer in the proverbial ocean,the channel they chose to engage us in – thereby approaching the problembuilding trust. from the wrong vantage pointHere are the Top Three Myths of KnowledgeManagement as they relate to customer service.1. Existing content captured in ECM and CMS systems is valuable to customers2. Content can be applied readily to growing external and internal customer channels3. Search-based paradigms are the best ways to connect customers to answersIn the end this does not mean that your knowledgemanagement initiatives are dead, or that you needto toss out existing products. It does however meanthat you need to relieve the customer from thecomplexity of your underlying content and delivera single answer to their question. This capabilityunderscores the key requirement of customercentric service, particularly in today’s rapidlyexpanding SCRM environment.
  4. 4. The Top Three Myths of Knowledge Management for Customer Service 3(Why KM is Hurting Your Customers, and What You Can Do About It)Myth #1:The “Value” of Existing ContentAs Freek Vermeulen noted in a recent blog The problem becomes even more vexing whenentry, “What we sort of forgot in the torrent of we add this enormous pile of content to internal“knowledge euphoria” was that this stuff can also facing electronic repositories that are typically usedcome at a cost. The cost of actually finding it in t to augment content for internal teams. Professorshe jungle of corporate databases.”2 Martine Haas from The Wharton School and Morten Hansen from INSEAD recently posted anIn a typical fortune 500 environment, the article entitled “Does Knowledge Deliver on itscombination of electronic documents plus Promises”.3 In this article they outlined a study onweb site pages adds up to a staggering, largely teams in a consulting firm that were using expertunmanageable amount of content. Consider, for knowledge repositories to compete on bids for newexample, that the average number of customer- business contracts (interestingly, many internalfacing web pages managed by companies in the customer service professionals, including callfinancial services sector averages at more than center, chat and email agents depend on similar11,000 and in telecommunications, that number internal knowledge content to educate and deliverclimbs to 64,000! Typically, this is only a portion answers). The advice provided from this useof the content managed, indexed and provided to case research?customers as a means of answering their questions. “Shut down your expensive document databases;Frustrating Experience they tend to do more harm than good. They areThis is why, as a customer, a quick attempt to find a nuisance, impossible to navigate, and you can’tinformation for “cancelling a check” on leading really store anything meaningful in them anyway.”financial services sites brings back 72 results inone, 48 in another and 40 from another without Most organizations currently have tens, if notan appropriate relevant answer in the first several hundreds of thousands of pieces of information,pages of results – not exactly an ideal customer comprised of both relevant and irrelevantexperience. This approach to customer self- service electronic content. These same organizations aredrives down consumer productivity and is struggling to leverage these expansive contentcounterproductive to everything self-service repositories as a means of supporting customershould stand for. and service agent productivity. One of the key issues is that the answers to common customer and service agent questions are also Many major corporations can buried in the content (where multiple answers to satisfy the needs of both their key questions arise but force the content consumer to select and scan to uncover it). In working with customers and agents with our customers, we often find that many major corporations can satisfy the needs of both their between 300-700 pieces of customers and agents with between 300 to 700 content, not 30,000-70,000 pieces of content at the most, not 30,000 to 70,000. Many organizations applying solutions to this problem turn to components of their CRM, CMS/ECM or Intelligent Search products to fundamentally categorize and index this growing content. These hundreds of thousands of documents are not effective in delivering the right answer through customer service channels.2 http://blogs.harvardbusiness.org/vermeulen/2009/03/when-knowledge-management-hurt.html3 http://knowledge.wharton.upenn.edu/article.cfm?articleid=1841
  5. 5. The Top Three Myths of Knowledge Management for Customer Service 4(Why KM is Hurting Your Customers, and What You Can Do About It)Myth #2:Content can be Applied Readilyto Growing ChannelsIn many cases, the content being captured and In our analysis the answers to customer questionsdelivered to an inquiring customer has little to no all may share a core message; however each shouldrelevance to that consumer, or to the channel they be effectively purposed for the channel into whichchoose to utilize. The challenge with the ever- it is delivered. If you are intent on delivering a trulyexpanding communication landscape is that each customer-centric self-service and eService strategy,channel has unique needs for content delivery. the requirement is to extract the “answers” (and not the content).Is it effective, or even practical, to deliverinformation via mobile phone, or social media It is not about the 10,000 electronic documents thatforums in the same way you would in a call center, might have relevancy, but the 300 specific answersor email platform? Although the latest “business within the content that actually do. Re-purposingprocess document for policy cancellation” is these answers for the selected channel they arefascinating reading, a customer asking “How do I delivered through can be a quick and effectivecancel a policy” likely does not want to read your method of handling over 90% of all incomingfive page PDF outlining the business processes on questions – whether through web self-service,their cell phone. contact center (voice, email and chat) or newer mobile and social media channels.Let’s further examine the “cancel a policy” examplefrom a multi-channel viewpoint:• In a call center agent’s hands, this knowledge might include the “answer” that also offers A customer does not likely procedures for client retention (including want to read your 5-page PDF special offers) which would not be included in the self-service area, and certainly not in the on business processes while original document. on their cell phone• For the same customer asking this question on a web site, the “answer” may be an escalation to a specialty group to retain the customer (see item 1 above) using click-to-call or chat.• For the same customer asking this question via Mobile or SMS, the answer may be an immediate call back to the customer, or an abridged answer with external links to additional content.
  6. 6. The Top Three Myths of Knowledge Management for Customer Service 5(Why KM is Hurting Your Customers, and What You Can Do About It)Myth #3:Search is the Best Way toConnect Customers to AnswersWhat is it that the consumer is looking for at the The result is similar for internal contact centerend of the day? Simply put, they want answers agents who have even less freedom. If knowledgeto their questions. In most cases by the time a tools fail to deliver the required information, theconsumer reaches your web site or call center results are:they are goal-oriented, not research-oriented. 1. Increases in average handling time (AHT)In a recent Jupiter study related to the web, a lack 2. Decreases in first contact resolution (FCR)of accuracy and relevancy in search results continue 3. Increases in the volume of escalationto be the main issue for users in a self-serviceenvironment. In fact, 44% stated that search could 4. Decreases in overall customer satisfactionnot understand their real questions and 35% saidthe results were unrelated to the question.4 It’s about the Questions, NOT the Content The challenge therefore for CRM, ECM and Intelligent Search solutions is that they focus on the content, not the questions asked. All of the Most consumers are doing a content made available is fundamentally indexed based on the way the author developed the content, lot more “searching” than not specifically the way the consumer was trying to “finding” when trying to self-serve access the content. For example, an author may develop content on how a payment is stopped. A customer may simplyWhat should be most concerning is that 87% of want to know how to cancel a pre-authorized debitsite visitors have left a web site when they could or cancel a check. In this scenario, the customernot find the information they sought. Four of the asking these questions is not going to be presentedfive top reasons for exiting a site prematurely are with the correct answer. This is a fundamental gaprelated to an inability to find information. Clearly, that even the best content-focused, search-basedmost consumers are doing a lot more “searching” solution cannot overcome.than “finding”, particularly when trying to self-serveonline. When this happens there are two negativeoutcomes, assuming in the best case that this is acaptive consumer (one who cannot actively switchtheir service);1. They escalate immediately to the most expensive channels (voice, chat, email), and2. They will not willingly return to lower cost channels, the trust is lost.4 Jupiter (Forrester) 2008 study on web self-service
  7. 7. The Top Three Myths of Knowledge Management for Customer Service 6(Why KM is Hurting Your Customers, and What You Can Do About It)So What is the “Answer”?The answer lies in understanding the question.The challenges that we see when deployingtraditional solutions to deliver knowledge-basedcustomer service lies squarely with their focus onthe content. Such an approach invariably results inknowledge that:• Contains a depth that includes many possible answers (compound or complex content)• Requires the consumer to scan and select the appropriate content (tedious self-discovery)• Is not purposed for any particular delivery channel (broad context)• Provides accessibility based on search terms in content, not the nature of the questionsTools applied for CRM, KM, CMS/ECM andintelligent search do not need to be replacednecessarily, they obviously have purpose andvalue across the enterprise. But when it comes todelivering “answers to questions” in a self-service ore-Service environment, they simply approach theproblem in an ineffective manner. As such, thesetechnologies must be augmented with solutionsthat address the problem from a customer centricpoint of view. The appropriate solution:• Provides an answer to the question asked• Delivers a single approved answer• Is purposed for the channel it is requested within (Web, Voice Agent, Mobile, SCRM)• Understands the many ways the question can be asked and relate this to the correct answerThe bottom line is that consumer questionscan be answered quickly and effectively whenthe premise for information delivery is basedon the way customers ask questions.In the end it’s about the questions,not the answers.
  8. 8. The Top Three Myths of Knowledge Management for Customer Service 7(Why KM is Hurting Your Customers, and What You Can Do About It)For More InformationFor more information on cost effective ways to enhancethe customer experience at your organization contact:Mike HennessyIntelliResponsemike.hennessy@intelliresponse.comAbout IntelliResponseIntelliResponse enhances the multi-channel customer experience forbusinesses and educational institutions via its Instant Answer Agent,a question-and-answer software platform that allows web site visitorsand service agents to ask questions in natural language, and get the“One Right Answer”, regardless of the hundreds of ways the questionmay be asked.This industry leading On Demand software platform is used by bothconsumers and contact center agents. With more than 200 live,customer- facing implementations answering 50 million+ questionswith one right answer, IntelliResponse is the gold standard in first linecustomer experience management.Some of the world’s most recognized corporate brands and highereducation institutions trust their customer experience management needsto IntelliResponse - including ING Direct, TD Canada Trust, Scotiabank,Penn State University, The Ohio State University, University of BritishColumbia and Harvard University Extension School.Copyright © 2010, IntelliResponse Systems Inc. All rights reserved.The trademarks identified herein are the trademarks or registeredtrademarks of IntelliResponse Systems Inc. or other third party.

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