Knowledge Driven Approach to Better Customer Service Experience

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1 Knowledge Driven Approach to Better Customer Service Experience The digital economy has changed the way businesses deliver customer service. Linear models have become obsolete and there is a pressing need for dynamic and cross-channel customer support with relevant and accessible knowledge at its core. This paper considers why companies must transform their existing customer service models and the challenges they face in creating and maintaining a knowledge-based model. By following the key principles outlined in this paper, organizations can achieve a holistic, knowledge-driven customer service model that delivers tangible business benefits.

2 Introduction The digital marketplace is witnessing exponential growth in the number and type of products and services available to consumers. While many companies focus on manufacturing to meet rising demand, they often neglect their service delivery models. Today s customer is smarter, more adept and quicker in making purchasing decisions. Customers interact with brands, products and service touch points in a variety of ways to raise queries, resolve issues and provide feedback. The rising expectations of such consumers are driving changes in customer service while increasing its complexity. Previously successful linear models of service can no longer cater to the growing demands and rising volumes of queries, raising a key concern customer dissatisfaction.

3 Why customer service frequently fails to delight Customer dissatisfaction stems primarily from the lack of proper product or service support by customer service personnel, thereby creating acute customer service issues. According to a recent study, over 34% of customers said their greatest source of dissatisfaction is service personnel not knowing answers to their questions 1. When support agents are unable to understand customer issues or they do not possess sufficient knowledge to resolve issues, trouble-shooting becomes a long-drawn process with agents seeking help from their colleagues or supervisors. Further, the lack of accurately documented information and easy access to such knowledge creates inefficiencies resulting in lower productivity and higher costs. Without a proper knowledge management system, agents fumble for the right responses to even basic queries as they are unaware of how or where to search for relevant information. This results in poor agent productivity. In addition, this fragmented process contributes to the heavy churn among staff, requiring re-training and further driving up costs. Retaining information about best-practices is critical for survival, particularly in process-intensive industries such as manufacturing, oil and gas, and chemicals. Over the years, these industries have created virtual knowledge banks about their products and services through the combined experience and expertise of operators and engineers. There is a pressing need to codify and provide easy access to such tacit knowledge to ensure continued success. All this raises key questions how can companies build a knowledgedriven process that addresses customer issues and delivers seamless and accurate customer care? Further, can such a system be delivered across channels to reduce dependence on call centers and agents? To create an effective solution, we must first understand the challenges involved.

4 Challenges in Creating and Maintaining a Knowledge System The dictionary defines knowledge as facts, information and skills acquired through experience or education; the theoretical or practical understanding of a subject. Knowledge is constantly updated using sense, perception, communication and reasoning and hence it cannot be stored 2. On the other hand, information means facts and data that are organized to describe a particular situation 3. Thus, knowledge means being aware in real-time of what information must be used in what context. Building a knowledge system is a complex process involving several tasks. A comprehensive repository necessitates regular flow of accurate information into the system. For this, agents at all levels need to share their knowledge and learning for mutual benefit. Further, the system interface should be user-friendly to enable quick updates, easy search functions, and instant access to information. However, companies find it difficult to meet these demands owing to factors such as: Stringent Service Level Agreements (SLA) and constant supervision do not provide scope for agents to search for existing knowledge as they aim to finish calls/ chat interactions quickly. Subject Matter Experts (SME) are reluctant to share the knowledge gained through experience and expertise for fear of losing their uniqueness within the organization. Changing business environments causes existing content to change on a daily basis with the ceaseless evolution of strategies, policies and procedures, making it difficult to track and ensure that all content is updated and relevant. Even when companies are able to create such a system, there are additional challenges to ensuring that information is accessed properly within the knowledge system. Take the example of banking institutions that have various procedures for opening and closing different types of bank accounts. When a customer calls to close an existing fixed deposit account and transfer of the amount to an existing savings account - the customer service agent needs to contextualize all information about banking accounts and apply the right procedure to the specific need of the customer. This requires quick access to the right type of information, posing another challenge. Often, agents are unaware that the information needed to solve a customer query is available and, if so, where they can find it. Even if the information is available it may be outdated, owing to the dynamic nature of content, making it irrelevant when needed. Companies seeking to overcome these challenges need an approach that focuses on a holistic customer service view. This mandates knowledge management at the core of the entire customer journey, and not merely at the fringe.

5 Principles of Delivering a Knowledge-Driven Experience A comprehensive knowledge-driven customer service model can be achieved by following certain key principles and leveraging relevant tools. Using a dedicated approach, companies can ensure their information is updated and agents are properly equipped to deliver the best service. Provide answers, not information Customers approach support centers for answers to their issues, not lengthy explanations. Companies should aim to build their knowledge management and delivery systems to quickly mine through available information and provide relevant and contextual answers to queries. Enable self-help A recent survey revealed that 91% of respondents were willing to use an online knowledge base tailored to their needs 4. Virtual assistants are a winning solution for providing online self-help options for customers who prefer to help themselves. Mine knowledge from customer interactions Besides verbal data, there is copious information to be gleaned from all customer calls through text, speech, emotions, and tone. Companies can leverage emerging tools such as tone analytics and emotion detection to capture and understand customer language. Make knowledge consistent across channels A consistent crosschannel customer experience is critical in today s digital age. This requires a central information repository that mines data from all sources and is easily accessible from all touch points. Apply analytics There are several useful analytics tools that can track data, sentiment and semantics to draw insights from the data captured through every customer issue or interaction. Further, the solution of the issue itself can be rated using implicit feedback from customer emotion and tone. This helps companies monitor how their system drives results. Empower agents Guided help techniques ensure that agents are equipped with the latest and most relevant knowledge to assist customers. This knowledge should be available to agents in an interactive way to avoid lengthy calls that impair productivity. Incentivize experts It is necessary to implement mechanisms that make it worthwhile for SMEs to code their knowledge. By enabling them to become content managers, companies can ensure that their information systems are always updated and relevant. Encourage learning The internet is a rich source of customer sentiment, feedback, and custom solutions. Companies should track information about their products and services across social media, online communities and forums. By encouraging online support groups, companies can empower their customers to help other customers and benefit from an excellent source of shared knowledge. Leverage social media Facebook, Twitter and various social media tools provide a quick route to troubleshoot customer issues. It is critical for companies to ensure their presence on these forums is relevant and responses are quick. Good customer service delivered through these platforms also enhances brand visibility. Omni-channel Customer interaction and knowledge management

6 Business Benefits Companies that dedicate resources to building a comprehensive and relevant knowledge management system can enable their agents to deliver better service, leading to highly satisfied customers. By delivering a knowledge-driven consumer experience, companies can achieve various benefits such as: Knowledge-driven customer service reduces AHT by 20% to 80% and OPEX by over 25%. Reduced costs Making virtual assistants and self-help options easily available minimizes the need for customer to contact call center support, thereby decreasing call volumes and reducing operational costs. In IT service management, up to 40% of incoming calls to call centers can be avoided with effective self-help options. Improved agent productivity Agents that have quick and easy access to relevant and contextual knowledge take less time to resolve customer problems, thereby reducing Average Handle Time (AHT) 5. Increased customer satisfaction Customers who prefer to solve their own problems can utilize self-help portals for instant resolution. Additionally, speedy and appropriate problem resolution from agents improves customer experience, thereby increasing customer satisfaction.

7 Conclusion To meet growing customer demand for quick, updated and relevant information about products and services, companies should reconsider the way their agents handle support. Presently, most agents are unable to adequately resolve customer issues as they have little access to the information required. Lengthy call resolution times and lack of information are some of the biggest challenges that customers face. Companies seeking to win in such a marketplace should ensure that they deliver a knowledge-driven customer experience. However, building such a system involves significant challenges in ensuring that information is always updated and user interfaces are intuitive. By implementing processes that incentivize experts to share knowledge, leverage social media, and encourage cross-channel learning, companies can enable speedy resolutions and profitable customer conversations. Knowledge-driven customer service is critical to sustained success in the market, yielding benefits such as reduced costs, improved agent productivity and satisfied customers. References

8 About EdgeVerve EdgeVerve Systems Limited, a wholly owned subsidiary of Infosys Limited, defines, develops and licenses innovative software products and cloud hosted business platforms. We focus on driving revenue growth, cost effectiveness and profitability for global corporations and their business ecosystems across across the world. Visit to know more about our innovations in financials services, insurance, retail, CPG, life sciences, manufacturing and telecom. For more information, write to 2015 EdgeVerve Systems Limited, Bangalore, India. All Rights Reserved. This documentation is the sole property of EdgeVerve Systems Limited ( EdgeVerve ). EdgeVerve believes the information in this document or page is accurate as of its publication date; such information is subject to change without notice. EdgeVerve acknowledges the proprietary rights of other companies to the trademarks, product names and such other intellectual property rights mentioned in this document. This document is not for general distribution and is meant for use solely by the person or entity that it has been specifically issued to and can be used for the sole purpose it is intended to be used for as communicated by EdgeVerve in writing. Except as expressly permitted by EdgeVerve in writing, neither this documentation nor any part of it may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, printing, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without the prior written permission of EdgeVerve and/ or any named intellectual property rights holders under this document. External - Unrestricted

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