Knowledge is power: How an intelligent knowledge base powers CX
Published: Nov 28, 2018
Author: Alla Reznik
Whether it’s a human customer service agent helping a customer troubleshoot an issue over the phone, a chatbot answering questions over Facebook Messenger, or a customer using the company’s website for self-service support, all customer experience (CX) depends on one fundamental truth: the company has the answer.
In a fast-moving world, however, today’s right answer is tomorrow’s outdated information. An agile development process means that companies can go to market with a minimally viable product, garner customer feedback, and introduce new features on a monthly, weekly, or even daily basis. While this is arguably a smarter, more effective way to approach product development, it runs the risk of leaving both customers and company representatives in the dark when issues arise.
At the same time, answers have never been more in demand. A company that can’t provide fast, accurate answers to any question thrown its way will drive customers and prospects away. In fact, customer support is often as much of a selling point for a product as the product itself.
That’s why a high-quality knowledge base is now a requirement for today’s modern CX operation. With it, you can provide both your human and virtual agents with instant access to consistently accurate information.
The key to a truly functional knowledge base is creating a single source of truth. Too often, organizations have disjointed knowledge systems and sources that provide different answers depending on the channel the person uses to reach out to the company.
In reality, it’s nearly impossible to keep a knowledge base up-to-date using manual, human-based input. To overcome information overload while maintaining consistency, automation and artificial intelligence can be used to analyze the thousands of questions your company answers each day, along with the responses provided. It can then learn over time which questions are being asked and serve up an accurate, consistent answer—no matter if the question is being answered by a human agent, a virtual agent (like a chatbot), or online through self-service.
This is particularly important in helping an organization know what it doesn’t know. Whenever a new product launches, questions come rolling in as the product leaves the safe confines of the lab and faces the harsh realities of real-world use. Engineers and developers spend so much time thinking about how the product is supposed to work that they often don’t have time to think about what to do if it doesn’t.
With an AI-driven knowledge base, the system can easily spot patterns in questions (even ones being asked in different ways) and highlight any content that is missing. The operations team can then log in and see what types of questions are being asked and which questions an agent was unable to answer. This can help the team identify knowledge gaps and quickly fill them in with the correct answers, while also raising awareness of potential product issues to fix or iterate on.
This raises a key consideration to keep in mind: While automating your knowledge base will make your life easier, an intelligent knowledge base isn’t something you can just set and forget. It requires care and cultivation, just like a human-driven knowledge base. That means instead of handing off your new AI-powered knowledge base to an overworked IT team, it’s crucial you allocate the people and resources necessary to not only implement the technology, but to monitor its work and make adjustments as needed.
Once your intelligent knowledge base is up and running, it can improve both your current and future customer service, helping to power the next generation of CX technologies. As organizations continue to collect massive amounts of data about their customers, their purchases, and even things like their social media activity and browsing behavior, these companies will be able to personalize CX and even predict when a customer will need help before they ever have to ask. To do this, an accurate, instantly accessible knowledge base will be required to power virtual agents and provide personalized service.
While automation has already led to improved customer service, it has also taught customers to expect customer service to be nothing short of excellent. A buyer will no longer spend an hour on the phone with an agent or sift endlessly through the help section of a website. She expects to get an answer instantly no matter if she calls, Tweets, texts, or searches.
There’s a reason leading companies like Amazon, Costco, and Toyota obsess over their customer service; it’s because great customer experience is one of the greatest differentiators and advantages a brand can enjoy. The more you can make your organization’s foundation of knowledge consistent, accurate, and easy to access, the more you can drive loyalty, improve service, and bolster your reputation.
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Alla Reznik is Director, Customer Experience (CX) for Verizon's Global Products and Services group. She leads teams fulfilling the complete CX product life-cycle process and PNL, encompassing: concept and design; competitive analysis; branding and marketing strategy; and final development and deployment.