When I was a baby contact center life was easy, I only had two agents, they were both very sweet; they knew everything about me and took care of me. In fact they did everything for me, they cleaned me, they painted me so that I looked beautiful and they bought me the cutest furniture. I enjoyed seeing them every day and they loved coming in to work every day; the three of us were happy. It really felt like we were a family.
When I was a baby contact center my agents knew everything about me and they knew everything about our products. There was never a time when they did not know the answer to a question, customers would call in and they would resolve their issues without any problems. When I was a baby call center the world made sense, my agents were happy, the customers were happy (most of the time) and I was happy.
The Preteen Years
As I got bigger things began to get more complicated, I handled the customer service requirements for more products and these products were more complex. As I grew I got more agents, and I soon outgrew my home and had to move to a bigger location that could handle my growth. As I got more agents the need also arose for software that could help manage the flow of calls that I received. With every birthday I had I was given new software to make me more efficient. The first software I got was a call routing system and a system that allowed callers to enter basic data with their phone before they got to the agent. Both of these helped to make me more efficient. As I grew bigger I was happy, the customers were happy, and the agents were happy (some of the time).
The Teenage Years
When I became a teenager things got yet more complicated, and they were not good; I wasn’t happy, my agents weren’t happy and many of the callers were not happy. I was awkward and the metrics weren’t in my favor, customers were on hold for too long, (often hanging up before they even got to an agent), First call resolution was way too low, and the software that had been lovingly given to me in my youth didn’t work. What made things worse was that knowledge was not flowing from me to my agents. By this time I had over 100 agents and each agent used and accessed my knowledge differently, often confusing customers, and when customers called back to speak with a different agent they were given different information.
As my teenage years dragged on things did not improve; my growth seemed to be stunted. Sure I was big, I had over 100 agents, and I was getting new agents all of the time, but most of the new agents seemed to be replacing other agents so my overall # of agents did not grow. Additionally I was getting more products but the agents struggled with newer products or newer versions of products, the service quality was poor and as my teenage years progressed we got more customer service complaints. It was clear to everyone who cared about me that something needed to be done. But what?
By the time I turned 15 things came to a breaking point, we were getting customer service complaints very often and we even lost a few of our smaller clients; our bigger clients were more loyal but it was clear that if nothing changed I would cease to exist. During this time the problem that I was struggling with started to become clearer. It became clear that the main issue we had was with knowledge and the poor way in which knowledge was being managed. Over my lifetime I had accumulated tons of knowledge, this knowledge was stored on Word documents, pdf’s, post-it notes and often in the heads of agents. This meant that each agent had access to different knowledge and since the knowledge was difficult to search often the agent would rely on the knowledge in their head. Additionally newer agents were put at an obvious disadvantage b/c they did not have a store of knowledge. Once we isolated the problem many solutions were explored.
The Knowledge Problem
In hindsight the issue that was causing all of my heartache was a simple one, I had a ton of knowledge but no way to communicate it to my agents; and my agents, most of whom were well meaning and wanted to provide optimal customer service were unable to do this b/c either they had no idea where the knowledge was stored or they had no way to search the knowledge and even if they were willing to take the time to look through a dozen long documents to find a solution there was no way that the customer would be willing to remain on hold for that length of time.
The main options that were explored to solve the knowledge problem was using a Wiki, using the knowledge base built into a CRM that we were already using or using a professional knowledge base. We also explored the option of building an in-house knowledge management system but this option was eliminated almost immediately b/c of the high cost.
The first option for managing all of my knowledge that we explored was using Wikis, this seemed like an easy solution but ultimately we discovered that this option simply did not provide the functionality we needed, and it did not allow us to easily search knowledge.
Knowledge Base Built Into CRM
The second thing that we looked at was using a knowledge base and since we already had an existing CRM system with a knowledge base built in we thought that this would be an easy solution. This seemed to work well at first but we soon discovered issues, the knowledge article were difficult to create and modify and this option too did not provide is with everything we needed to make my knowledge fully accessible.
A Professional Knowledge Base
The third option that we explored and the option that ultimately saved my life was using a professional knowledge base. A professional knowledge base had much more functionality than the previous options that we tried; it was simple to create new documents as well as to modify existing documents. Other functionalities that our professional knowledge base offered were things such as a Federated search, and a knowledge tree creator. Lastly the professional knowledge base that we chose had a built in E-learning capability. Thanks to this the onboarding of new agents became much easier, the customer service that my agents offered greatly improved and once again I was happy.