For most contact centers, addressing customer issues is the number one priority.
In order to successfully accomplish this goal though, agents need to be equipped with the right knowledge. You can’t expect an agent to just know everything.
You can have your agents go through extensive training and classes to learn and memorize everything they need to know about your product and services, or you can provide them with access to the right answers at the right time.
Knowledge access and management are paramount for providing excellent support and the integration between the knowledge management system and the agent’s desktop has a significant impact on the workflows for these agents. Proving agents with the ability to easily search and access relevant knowledge quickly can drive major efficiency gains.
According to an October 2015 research report from Aberdeen:
“On average, agents spend 15% of their time seeking relevant data and knowledge articles. A 300-seat contact center incurs $1.57 million each year in unnecessary costs, resulting from sub-par agent productivity."
The current mainstream approach to disseminating knowledge is to give agents a huge list of articles to search through to find the one that has their answer. From there they can either read the article to find their answer and communicate that to the customer or they can just send the entire article to the customer to do the work themselves.
These articles can generally be grouped into categories and agents (or customers) can choose to browse by category or use a search bar to find articles based on keywords.
This approach works but is beginning to feel a bit dated as it involves a lot searching, reviewing, and skimming to get to the piece of information that is needed. Often times there can be thousands of articles and you may need to look through multiple to find the one you need.
Answers are better in bite-sized chunks.
Modern support systems that leverage chatbots and natural language processing (NLP) are beginning to provide immediate access to knowledge through conversations. This is a more natural and intuitive way to find answers. It feels like you’re having a conversation with a colleague instead of searching a database.
Conversational knowledge means that you can ask questions in a chat room righth within your support software and a bot can respond with the precise answer you are looking for. If the answer requires a long or multi-part response, the bot can also link you to the exact long-form article.
From a customer’s perspective, they can get answers from your website or app through natural conversation rather than digging through your database of knowledge articles.
This delivery of conversational knowledge has only become available in the past year or so due to advancements in artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) technology, but we are already seeing drastic increases in efficiency.
As support software gets smarter and AI gets integrated into all aspects of the system, the role of the support agent is changing.
In the past, the more an agent knew, the more likely he or she was to be efficient, get better ratings and overall be more successful. Tribal knowledge was king.
As computers assume the work of organizing and delivering answers, the role of an agent is shifting from regurgitating learned answers to knowing how to use a support system to efficiently get answers and deliver them to customers on-demand.
With the right system that provides the right knowledge at the right time, theoretically, an agent can hit the desk on day one and immediately begin answering questions as long as they know how to use the software.
Agents with better technical skill sets are able to create increased leverage from support platforms and help more customers than those agents that are less technical and slower at navigating the software.
This is just the beginning of a major shift in software from being search- and list-based to being conversational. Conversational sales, conversational marketing, conversational support, conversational knowledge. You'll see it all. You’ll talk to computers like you talk to colleagues and you’ll get direct answers back that are natural and helpful.
I’m personally very excited about this shift as it will make interacting with a computer feel more like a natural human interaction rather than just using a programmed tool. It will be a journey but expect to see conversational interfaces begin to pop up in all aspects of your life.
Those that get ahead of the trend and adopt conversational interfaces will reap the benefits of increased efficiency that will compound over time.
Is your team using conversational knowledge? If so, I would love to hear about it in the comments.