As bonafide subject matter experts collaborating cross-functionally across the company, agents play an important part in knowledge management.
Self-service content is increasingly being used beyond the help centre, such as in 1:1 channels, as served up by AI, or for cross-functional collaboration between teams. As your content changes, the processes your team takes to maintain it need to change, too.
That’s why we say the robots can have certain jobs—the rote and, frankly, less interesting tasks that can be automated, freeing agents for more interesting and challenging ones. The shift requires support leaders to think beyond front-line support, elevating agents to strategic partners in a maturing knowledge-centred organisation. We know that agent satisfaction and engagement get a boost when this happens—but wait; there are more benefits at stake:
- Your help centre stays fresh and relevant when agents have ownership.
- The support team adds value across the organisation—and those teams feel the collaborative ripple effects right away.
Better processes mean better content
Based on trends we’re seeing across companies, there are a few things to keep in mind when establishing knowledge management processes. First, there’s the importance of article life cycle management—beyond just publishing, it includes upkeep and retirement. Second, with more customers and internal users depending on self-service, a strong feedback loop helps ensure more reliable, accurate content is available at all times.
Assigning agents to take ownership over certain products or areas of the business is one way to empower the team with accountability. Think of areas of your business—perhaps different products or services—as if they were coverage areas for beat reporters. This could mean everything from getting the whole team involved in content creation to dedicating key players to content maintenance.
At LendingClub, which manages knowledge via Zendesk Guide, a dedicated team is responsible for updating content and tracking the most-used search terms and articles with the highest page views. As a result of this dedicated investment in content, LendingClub boasts a self-service score of 11:1. That means for every 11 visitors to the help centre, only one results in a ticket. Team input is also essential at Spartan Race, another organisation managing knowledge with Guide.
"Making sure that you have relevant content is always a battle,” says Aja Varney, Director of Customer Service at Spartan Race. “I am a big fan of utilising my team, because they are the experts in identifying when something needs to be updated and when we need more information."
There’s an added benefit of improved processes: applying self-service content beyond traditional, evergreen purposes. Anyone on the inside knows ticket spikes occur around specific events like launches, outages, or major refreshes of the brand. In this new era, sophisticated knowledge base solutions enable teams to get ahead of the ticket curve.
Empower developing SMEs with ownership
Balancing the always-on nature of customer service with the need to pitch in with the knowledge base can be a challenge for agents. But technology can be an ally as these processes are rolled out, surfacing issues before they fall through the cracks. For example, smart knowledge base solutions remove some of the guesswork and maintenance headaches by prompting content managers to make updates or verify the accuracy or relevancy of help content.
Consider the scenario about a launch or an outage: Instead of keeping up with an onslaught of tickets, agents can create help resources that can be deployed to a wider audience in real time, or consult with internal partners—even as launch day comes and goes. Perhaps a persistent bug led to a spike in tickets, for example, and it’s related to a similar product bug that caused a spike in tickets last month during beta testing. These insights only come to light when support agents are encouraged to tap into their depth of knowledge from the front lines.
Having in-house specialists has longer-term impact, as well. Months after the hypothetical product launch, for example, an agent with specialised knowledge of a product or feature would be in good stead to make suggestions for future launches and versions of the product. They would also be armed with the context to assist customers seeking 1:1 support with complex issues within their area of expertise.
Arm the team with insights
The knowledge base—and agents themselves—are that much more valuable when content managers are supported with data, allowing them to make informed decisions about content. Here, too, a technology boost comes in handy, helping identify which articles are having the biggest impact on customers’ self-service experience. If an article is frequently viewed, for example, content managers will be more regularly prompted to revisit its content and sign off on its accuracy. If content is underperforming or timely, agents may be prompted to archive it at an appropriate date, or update article titles to be more relevant in searches. And if there is a sudden spike in tickets, agents can take a cue from AI prompts and create the resources their customers need at that moment.
As agents develop into organisational SMEs, it helps them become that much better at providing context-rich support for customers when complicated issues arise. Arming them with the tools for success will help ensure they’re supported at every step of their journey.