Article

How to use knowledge management software to make customer service decisions

Published August 27, 2021
Last updated August 27, 2021

Knowledge management systems have revolutionised customer services over the past decade. The joined-up, database-driven blend of CRMs, collaborative customer support suites and automation means customers get their solutions quicker and with more accuracy.

But behind the success, there have to be decisions based on intelligent use of the metrics measured by effective knowledge base software. Here’s a quick guide to using the metrics to feed back into better customer service decisions.

What is knowledge management (KM) software?

Knowledge management software (KMS) is a collection of databases and applications that collect, store and sort an organisation’s information to make it usable. In its commonest form, it’s the customer relationship management (CRM) system. That’s basically a store of all the information a company has on its customers, which is made accessible to all agents.

When a customer calls, any agent using the CRM has all the data they need about a customer’s purchase and service history and their current status, as well as information such as the complete story behind open tickets and past complaints. That way, any agent at the end of a call or in a chat panel can get up to speed with any customer making a query straight away.

However, there are other types of information and knowledge management that can assist your customers. Self-learning bots can identify common queries and channel customers to find answers to the most common queries. Community forums let the customer themselves activate the hive mind to overcome common issues. And portals can send customers to the best KMS for their current issue. Please have a look at some other great KMS examples here

Only when a business starts to appreciate how much of an asset its collection of knowledge is, can it truly justify the benefit of investing in robust information management systems. The data it holds on its products is every bit as valuable as its branding, its loyal customers, its reputation, its physical assets and its R&D team.

Knowledge obviously exists in the paperwork and the data you hold, but it’s also in the heads of all its employees, partners and customers. Collecting and collating that knowledge and choosing which parts of it you share can boost everything from customer support to your reputation.

Measuring and acting

To get the full benefits of knowledge management, however, it’s important to keep on top of the metrics you should be measuring. That’s the only real way to gauge customer satisfaction and put yourself on a path to continual improvement. Here are the metrics a high-performing support team needs to be keeping an eye on, and how to use the data to take you to improved customer service.

Customer satisfaction

This is the most fundamental metric, but it really gets to the heart of how successful your customer service operation is. If you’re regularly getting 95% satisfaction as a direct result of a customer interaction, you must be running an effective helpdesk, and changes should be made with the greatest of caution to avoid unintended consequences.

If basic satisfaction creeps below 90%, you need to start asking why one in ten of your customers are unhappy with your products and services. Those that give negative feedback should be listened to, and if you start to see the same issue cropping up among the unsatisfied, you’re halfway to picking some low-hanging fruit that could get your satisfaction back where it belongs.

Time to response

When a customer picks up the phone or opens a live chat window, how long is it on average before they have a human interaction? The closer to zero seconds you are, the better – people are busy and are probably only contacting you after they have exhausted other knowledge channels. They want answers or solutions and they want them fast.

When analysing the time to response, you should never be looking at a simple average. The time of day, day of week, month of year and type of query should all be analysed. That way you can work on improving the pre-call knowledge you make available, potentially reducing the number of calls, or perhaps you need to boost the number of agents at certain times/days/months.

Bounces

This is the number of attempted contacts that end in no contact at all. It can be directly related to time to response, as some bouncers will simply be fed up with waiting. But there could be other reasons, too, for example unintuitive contact interfaces or software glitches. Again, look for patterns that accompany high bounce rates – the solution could be staring you in the face.

Number of transfers

Is the first person a customer communicates with also the last? We’ve all been on customer service calls where we are repeatedly transferred from one agent to another while they try to sort out our issues. It’s certainly not a satisfying experience. AI can help here by recognising common queries and which specialisms end up providing the solutions, then routing queries in a more focused way.

Self-solvers rate

How many people use the speech recognition, typed queries or multiple choice self-service options and never go as far as a human interaction? Measured over time, you can see how effective your content management efforts are proving to be, as more queries are answered in anticipation of, rather than in response to, their being asked.

You should be building an ever-growing database of questions, from the most common to the rarely asked, to find out what proportion of your queries are solved automatically. Whether they are updated manually or automatically using AI, measuring the self-solvers rate keeps tabs on how your efforts are doing. 

Using the feedback loop

As more and more customer experience feedback fills up your internal knowledge base, the information can be effectively used to positively affect future experience. Using your explicit knowledge gained through customer responses, you can create knowledge base articles that can be used by both the support team itself and self-helping customers. Then, with the help of a powerful knowledge management solution, you’re perfectly placed to start seeing tangible results. 

Don’t forget – your customers themselves can also add to the trove of knowledge you have built up. Build yourself a forum – or use a solution such as the one included with Zendesk – and customers will start chatting about your products and services, offer advice and troubleshoot issues, and it all takes away the strain from your customer service agents.

As you can see, there’s so much customer service information you can gain from merely measuring a few key metrics. If you are proactive, you can keep the first one – customer satisfaction – to its absolute maximum. And almost as a by-product, you’ll end up with a more efficient knowledge-sharing operation that you’ll feel in your bottom line.