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"Knowledge is the only instrument of production that is not subject to diminishing returns." – J.M. Clark

To attract and retain more customers, brands must now provide consistent product, service and support information across all major customer engagement channels. According to a NICE Consumer Channel Preference Survey, consumers on are now using six different channels on average to contact service providers, and 86% say that they are communicating more often with businesses over all major channels, using the one that’s most convenient at any given time. That may be an online support ticketing, email, phone, mobile, social, live chat… the list just continues to grow.

No matter how many paths each customer takes or crosses in their multichannel service journey, knowledge, used both internally and externally, can create a solid foundation for a consistently good customer experience.

Here are three ways best-in-class service providers are putting knowledge to good use in improving the customer experience:

1. Knowledge Management as a Cross-Channel Connector 

While many companies are content to offer self-service content only on their corporate website, best-in-class service providers are delivering current and consistent answers and information across channels in a variety of ways, including feeding their knowledgebase content onto social media properties, directing customers calling for information on trending issues (for example, service outages) to fast online answers using their hold or IVR messaging or other communication tools, and indexing their content for the search engines. According to Parature’s 2014 State of Multichannel Customer Service Survey, more than 84% of consumers surveyed have used a search engine to look for an answer to a customer service question.

2. Internal Knowledge to Improve First Contact Resolution 

In the movie Groundhog Day, Bill Murray plays dreary weatherman Phil Connors, doomed to repeat his conversations again and again until inspired by the revelation that he can change everything simply by improving his interactions with other people. Best-in-class service providers are not only improving upon and sharing their external service content in more places, but they are also making use of internal knowledgebases for CSRs to deliver consistent, current answers and information on first contact, so customers don’t have to be passed around to multiple customer service representatives and do not have to reconnect at a later date for more or better information.

Best-in-class providers are also centralizing and utilizing their knowledge of their customers’ past service interactions, so that no matter what channel the customer connects or reconnects from or who they speak to, the customer never has to repeat their problem or the steps they’ve taken with the brand to date. In a recent Aspect/TNS customer service survey, 65% of consumers cite having to repeat themselves as a major customer service frustration. Forty percent (40%) of respondents in the NICE survey referenced above said they now expect agents to be informed of their customer service history and experiences upon beginning a customer service interaction.

3. Collected Knowledge to Enhance the Customer Experience 

More personalized service is a growing expectation across all customer service channels. In the Cisco Customer Experience Report which surveyed more than 1,500 consumers across 10 countries, 49% said they would allow retailers to collect personal shopping data in exchange for a more personalized customer service experience, and 54% are comfortable with retailers storing their purchase history in exchange for increased personalized value.

With the rise of and emphasis on big data, businesses and organizations are finally making a concerted effort to break down siloed channels to collect, centralize and make use of customer information, purchase and service histories, and feedback from all channels. This is key in moving from simply providing customer service, to providing a customer experience, where the customer feels the brand or organization knows and values them as an individual. And right now, according to the Aspect/TNS customer service survey referenced above, 64% say they do not feel like they are treated like valued customers.

Addressing Customers' Great Expectations 

Knowledge management has never been more important, and customer-centric brands and organizations must recognize this and take action before falling behind innovators that will keep stretching the boundaries and customers’ expectations. Forrester analyst Kate Leggett says it best in the reportUnderstand Communication Channel Needs to Craft Your Customer Service Strategy, “Customer service leaders must ensure that consistent experiences are delivered across channels. This means that each interaction must: 1) provide the same data and knowledge; 2) add value to the overall interaction journey that a customer has with a company by providing him with new information that addresses his questions in a timely, accurate, and personalized manner; and 3) reinforce the experience, data, and knowledge delivered in prior interactions.”

New Esteban Kolsky White Paper Builds the
Business Case for Knowledge Management

A new white paper from noted CRM analyst and ThinkJar founder Esteban Kolsky not only effectively outlines the benefits of knowledge management for customer service (as well as sales and marketing), but walks readers, brands and organizations through the five steps of justifying a new or greater investment.

For any brand or organization looking to increase employee effectiveness and customer service resolution times, as well as deliver current and consistent answers, information and messaging across all major customer engagement channels, this complimentary white paper on knowledge as the key to better customer service is a must-read.

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