Does your omnichannel program support knowledge management?

PHOTO: Funtap

…and stopped relying on the library model.

Knowledge content is the foundation of the after-sales experience, especially the after-sales support experience.

Today’s post-sales experience, including service and support, involves constant channel changes for almost any business. This means that the knowledge management infrastructure used by these companies needs to be omnichannel, but all too often that is still not the case.

What is omnichannel?

Omnichannel is often confused with the synonym of multichannel, but it is not. Multichannel is simply the ability to stream content across multiple channels. Omnichannel is the ability to deliver content across any channel.

The main difference here is that many content systems are set up with two or three channels in mind, and while the system works well for this small, predefined set of channels, it can’t support anything beyond that. This is a classic multi-channel architecture.

On the other hand, modern omnichannel content systems are effectively channel independent. They can be configured to support the two or three channels needed on day one, but just as easily expand to support the next four, five or 10 channels as they arise.

Related Article: How to Unleash Your Omnichannel Content Strategy

Why is omnichannel important for knowledge management?

One of the historical problems of knowledge management projects was the use of the library model. This is where a knowledge base is created as a separate digital place, similar to a physical library in the middle of a city, and then users are invited to go to that place if they want knowledge. This is the basic paradigm we get with “wiki” style knowledge bases.

For many reasons, this is a bad model.

All these reasons can be summarized by the concept of digital proximity. Digital proximity is the notion that we have a place in our digital world, just like our physical world. Just like in the physical world, proximity in the digital world is measured by the time it takes to get somewhere or acquire something.

In the physical world, when you ask someone “how far is the store?” – the common answer is in time, “About 15 minutes.” For your customers in the digital world, the question is often “how far is an answer?” When the answer takes less time to acquire, it is closer; its digital proximity is better. Omnichannel is necessary for organizations to improve their digital proximity. When you find that customers are spending too much time traveling from point A to point B for answers and help, you open a new channel at point A, bringing you closer to them.

Omnichannel and digital proximity success can be measured with the Customer Effort Score (CES). The closer something is, the lower the effort to access it. And that matters a lot. Research suggests that CES is the top driver of customer loyalty.

Where are your knowledge ecosystems going?

An additional consideration is that in the digital world, proximity is defined by how close a digital experience is to not only where you are, but also who you are. Meeting someone where they are in this context is more akin to the metaphysical sense used when attempting to interact with someone in their mental, emotional, or cultural space.

We all see customer and digital experience moving in this direction, but how many of us are actively pushing our knowledge ecosystems to support it? Omnichannel is also important here. Good omnichannel infrastructures are built to adapt to the audience, not just the channel. It’s not just about having content in the app, it’s about having the right content for the specific person using the app.

Today, the work of knowledge managers is not only the creation and preservation of knowledge, it is also the dissemination of knowledge. As customers continue to embrace self-service in a truly digital first world for customer experience, companies need to be ahead of their customers when it comes to knowledge delivery. The only way to keep pace with change in today’s digital world is through a robust omnichannel strategy.

Patrick is co-founder and CEO of Heretto. Since beginning his career in 2005, Patrick has worked on a wide range of projects, all focused on improving content creation, production and distribution.

Donald E. Patel