Knowledge management is the basis of a good customer experience

PHOTO: Hadija Saidi | unsplash

To state the obvious: a good knowledge experience is an effective, practical and complete experience. You get the knowledge you need, wherever you are, with the least amount of time and effort. If that doesn’t describe your organization, don’t worry. Most of us still have work to do to achieve this goal.

But why do it at all? Here are three of my main reasons.

1. Customer expectations

You can’t have a good experience if it doesn’t meet your expectations. Thanks to a recent recent PwC Customer Experience Reportcustomer expectations are very clear:

Nearly 80% of US consumers cite speed, convenience, knowledgeable help, and friendly service as the most important elements of a positive customer experience.

That’s a huge number, but it shouldn’t be surprising. The only way to effectively meet this expectation is through exceptional, centralized knowledge management. The three adjectives used to describe a good helper: “fast, practical and competent”, are all a function of quality.

Related article: What does knowledge management mean?

2. Different answers cause frustration

There’s nothing more frustrating than seeing a company’s help site say one thing, their chatbot say another (or often nothing), and their support reps say a third. It’s a bad KM in action. Organizations have different sources of knowledge content feeding into each of these customer touchpoints, which invariably leads to them being out of sync.

Try this: take a list of 10 questions you answered or answered in your online help experience, then call your help desk and ask them to answer the same questions or help you get the process outcome . For the best view of your customer experience, these 10 things shouldn’t be the 10 most common things, but they shouldn’t be 10 incredibly obscure things either. Once that’s done, look at how well the answers from people in the service match those found in your knowledge content.

So many things can come out of this exercise, and some of them might surprise you. But if nothing else, having that “mini-audit” documented is huge. It creates a record of the consistency (or inconsistency) of your organization. An audit that reveals wild inconsistencies can spur a company to action. On the other hand, an audit that shows fairly consistent responses can show that your investments are working.

Going back to the PwC report:

Only 47% of executives say they clearly understand how robotics and AI will improve the customer experience. This must change – immediately. Smooth and consistent transitions from machine to human are crucial. Consumers are increasingly loyal to retailers, brands and devices that consistently deliver exceptional value and variety with minimal friction or stress.

This is AI driven, but the reality is that your help site, learning management system, or customer-facing knowledge base is also a machine, and the most fundamental aspect of a transition fluid and consistent between these sources and your employees is that they say the same things.

Getting this right is imperative for customer trust, brand loyalty, customer retention, upsell opportunity, and efficiency support.

Related article: What does proactive customer service mean for brands?

3. Customers don’t want to talk to you

OK, maybe that’s a bit of an overstatement, but the heart of the matter remains. Today’s customer experience is all about speed and let’s face it, calling support is almost never the fastest way to answer a question. A new Chrome tab with a Google search takes less than a second, a fraction of the time it would take you to even find a number to call. Helplines and human interaction will always be needed for the most complex issues, but as knowledge management professionals it is our duty to constantly push the boundaries of what is complex enough that a human is needed.

Here’s a thought experiment: what would change if you reframed your perspective on the customer support experience to view any progress that results in a phone call as a failure? Specifically, a failed content experience. Of course, that’s not really true – it’s too extreme and some level of human-to-human interaction is valuable – but the thought experiment is still very useful.

When you start thinking this way, the natural next step is to map out the different common paths people take that result in a failed content experience. Of course, there are many, but often only a few are essential. If you take a programmatic approach to this, you can begin to clear the fog and get the big picture of how customers are gathering insights from your organization. This becomes the supporting evidence for building future business cases that improve your knowledge management and customer experience.

Knowledge management is the foundation of the customer experience. Now that we live in a digital world, this has never been truer. If knowledge management isn’t a priority in your organization, it should be. It’s time to take these three practical reasons and change your mind.

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