4 Ways Knowledge Management Is Failing Your Call Center

4 Ways Knowledge Management Is Failing Your Call Center

10 min read

For most contact centers, stepping into the digital age has meant heavily investing in knowledge management tools. Unfortunately, far too many aren’t discerning with their purchases or fail to recognize the places where knowledge management falls short. The result is unhappy agents, dissatisfied customers and a whole lot of unrealized potential.

So what’s a contact center to do? By assisting agents in real-time during live customer interactions, contact centers can make it easy for new agents to sell to and serve customers just like the pros. This will require contact centers to deliver actionable knowledge nuggets to agents right at the moment of need, during customer interactions, without requiring any searching, coaching, chatroom, offline e-learning or classroom training.

knowledge management in contact center

Future of Knowledge Management in Contact Center

In fact, the future of knowledge management in the contact center begins with the recognition that less is more. But, before we rush to the future, we need to understand what’s broken with the way knowledge is managed and delivered to agents in the contact center today.

A contact center in 2021 probably looks different than it did even a few years ago. Technology that was once unthinkable is now commonplace. Contact centers may not even be physical locations at all — with the COVID-19 pandemic forcing many agents to do their work from home. Through it all, agents have remained indispensable, all while adjusting to ever-changing expectations.

Despite advances in technology, there may have never been as hard a time to be a contact center agent as right now. While the basic job of an agent — to assist customers in need, increase satisfaction and drive sales — remains the same, the conversations agents are having with customers have changed. Because most companies now offer self-service tools to address simpler questions, agents are often left dealing with only the most challenging customer quandaries.

Anatomy of an Agent's Interaction With a Customer

As a result of this changing tech landscape, the majority of interactions are now extremely complex. To successfully address a customer’s request, an agent must be able to:

Understand customer intent:

To address a situation, the agent must first understand what the issue is. During this phase, the agent must be able to convey empathy and ask appropriate follow-up questions.

Analyze and research the issue:

Once an agent has identified the problem, they must do their research quickly, if they don’t already know the appropriate next steps off the top of their head. Both understanding customer intent and analyzing the issue require proper contextual analysis to be done right, especially for more complex calls (aka most calls these days).

Update the customer’s record:

Agents must record any changes to a customer’s plan or information to avoid issues in the future.

Take the appropriate action:

Now that an agent has identified the problem and has all of the context and background information they need, it’s time to take any necessary next steps to resolve the issue.

Wrap up the call:

Agents should leave customers feeling that they’ve been listened to and taken care of. Customers should understand the root causes of their problems and feel confident that the right steps have been taken to address them.

Your Contact center Agents Are Screaming for Assistance

challenging questions from customers

Even a simpler request requires both deep subject knowledge and multiple repetitive tasks. More complex tasks, however, add further steps and stressors. Agents must discuss the issue in detail, offer a workaround, provide validation to a customer and — more often than not — provide an outlet for a customer to vent. Without the right tools, even the most adept agents are set up for failure — resulting in lost opportunities to retain customers and increase satisfaction.

Ultimately, the mix of complexity and repetition can leave agents feeling overexerted and burned out. According to a 2020 study from Calabrio, a majority (52%) of agents felt that their employers weren’t doing enough to prevent burnout. The results can include agents that make mistakes or provide poor service, as well as increased turnover and time lost to onboarding and training. Increased complexity isn’t just an inconvenience for agents — it could be a source of a vicious cycle within your organization.

Knowledge Management Fails To Help Your Call Center Agents

While technology may be partially responsible for problems facing the modern agent, it also offers solutions. Unfortunately, far too many of today’s contact centers have grown dependent on knowledge management tools, often at the expense of a more holistic approach that simplifies tasks for agents. According to Calabrio, 60% of agents want better tools to address the growing volume and complexity of customer requests. The question is, why haven’t organizations risen to the challenge? Oftentimes, it’s because they’re investing in the wrong type of solutions.

For most contact centers, the rush to digitization has meant one thing and one thing only: further investment in knowledge management. According the 2020 Global Customer Experience Benchmark from NTT, Knowledge Management is the #1 tool used to drive workplace productivity. On the surface, it’s easy to see why. Knowledge management tools allow organizations to store large amounts of essential data in an organized manner. This makes it easier for agents to take it upon themselves to find the information they need.

knowledge management in call center

Most knowledge management solutions, however, fail to take the next steps that agents actually require of the technology.

1. Who Has the Time to Search For Answers?

In today’s environment, agents simply don’t have the time to find quality information themselves, particularly when handling complex queries that may require research in multiple areas. Besides slowing interactions down, this type of process doesn’t facilitate the kinds of empathetic interactions customers expect from agents for their most complex issues. Stopping an interaction to dig for the right information interrupts the flow of a conversation and results in customers not feeling listened to.

2. Static Knowledge requires Agents to Serve as Human Middleware

Dynamic knowledge management tends to offer gadgets like dynamic scripting, interactive guides and dynamic FAQs that speed up the search process but fundamentally don’t rethink anything. Knowledge that is disconnected from customer data and live process flows require the agent to serve as human middleware -- stare-and-compare data across screens and copy-paste information across systems, while trying to keep the customer abreast of the progress being made. No wonder studies show that agents spend close to 35% of their time searching for answers.

3. Automating Knowledge Search with a Virtual Assistant is not Enough

The AI add-ons to knowledge management aim to simplify knowledge search, but knowledge search is only a small part of the problem that agents are dealing with. Presenting the top 5 knowledge articles is seldom useful for an agent who is already stressed while on the call with an anxious customer. Asking stressed out agents to train AI so that it can get smarter with its recommendations is hardly a smart approach for contact center leaders. Knowledge search is seldom automated precisely, and even when it’s done, it only saves the agent time and effort on a small part of the work they’re required to do to fulfill the customer’s request. As a result, even state-of-the-art knowledge management powered with virtual assistants can’t offer the personalized experiences customers with complex problems crave.

4. Micro-Learning & Knowledge Sharing Programs build on a Shaky Foundation

One of the more fundamental issues is how agents are trained, and how they are asked to learn. The average contact center agent goes through a 4-6-week classroom training program, and spends several months ramping up to speed on the job. Additionally, contact centers are spending time and effort to share knowledge, skill agents and empower them with various tools to make them more effective. All these initiatives are laudable but fail to have the desired effect due to the underlying limitations of knowledge management and learning management systems that are disconnected from live customer data and process flows. These initiatives impart theoretical knowledge which does not help agents learn quickly and effectively. This passive approach to enabling learning is a major impediment to success in the digital era, as Gartner has highlighted in their Agile Learning Manifesto.

The most successful employees in the digital era will be the fastest learners… Effective agile learning blends microlearning courseware, coaching and on-the-job experience; the latter accounting for as much as 70% of the learning.

U-Assist | Your Gateway to Agile Learning in the Contact Center

In addition to lacking many of the tech tools that can help them be successful, today’s agents are without one key resource that often goes unmentioned — their co-workers. With many agents working remotely as a result of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, As a result, agents are more dependent than ever on tech solutions to deliver them the knowledge they need.

In addition to falling short in complex situations, knowledge management is often used in replacement of more adept solutions. Far too many organizations look to knowledge management as an end all be all, neglecting other tools that their agents would benefit from in the process. This is driven home by all the bells and whistles being offered for knowledge management that were mentioned above.

Contact center leaders can assist agents in real-time by blending knowledge automation and process automation.

How Is Real-time U-Assist Different From…

Knowledge Management and Other Passive Forms of Agent Enablement

Enable Learning During Live Customer Interactions

Knowledge management paired with AutomationBy this point, it’s no secret that we believe the way agents get their information needs a rethink. But, seemingly counterintuitively, the answer to the complexity dilemma agents face usually isn’t more information, a la knowledge management, it’s the right information. Automation technology can help ensure agents have what they need, without the added stress of having to dig through extra data for it. In order to do this, a solution must be able to account for information from both the interaction and previous information from the customer data model or the business process model. If implemented right, the result is a happier, more informed agent and a more satisfied customer.

Automating processes can aid agents in every phase of customer interaction. Having a tool that automatically builds on existing customer data allows agents to hit the ground running and understand intent quickly. By automating the knowledge delivery process, and using data from every stage of the process rather than just a few keywords, agents can quickly have the answer to queries, without creating friction or slowing the flow of conversation. Taking these kinds of tasks off agent’s plates better allows them to do what they do best and what customers value — offer a real human connection and an empathetic voice during a frustrating time.

In addition to boosting agent productivity and customer satisfaction, an automated tool can help cut down on the number of trainings agents need, and instead support them as they learn. In the past, a customer’s experience could depend on how recently an agent had undergone training on a problem, as well as their level of comfort with the material. With an automated solution, agents can get the information they need even if they don’t know what they’re looking for.
Ultimately, while knowledge management has gotten more dynamic than ever before, it’s still a solution looking to answer the wrong questions. Throwing money at a product that doesn’t help to personalize customer interactions just doesn’t make sense. At the very least, viewing knowledge management as a small piece of the puzzle, rather than a one-stop solution, is a more effective way to meet agent needs and offer more personalized customer assistance for complex problems. Soon enough you may find your knowledge management tool isn’t as useful as you once thought.

Feel free to reach out to a member of the Uniphore team to answer any questions you might have or review your own knowledge automation opportunities.

Go from Knowledge Management to Knowledge Automation

See how U-Assist combines process automation and knowledge automation using AI & RPA

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