Almost everyone wants to help themselves if they can, and if they can’t help themselves they want to receive great customer service from a knowledgeable team member. Knowledge-Centered Service looks to empower users to help themselves and staff to provide the best quality customer service.
Before exploring its implementation, we first need to investigate precisely what Knowledge-Centered Service or KCS is. This customer service format is a hybrid model where a team of customer service representatives not only provides assistance in real time but also creates a knowledge base of documents as issues arise. These documents can then be used by those using the product or service to reduce interactions required with customer service personnel.
KCS isn’t only applicable to customer service but works well within single brands as employee support or internal system support. For the sake of this article, we’ll refer to the customer service use case.
The overall aim of KCS is to reduce customer service personnel requests, empower users to resolve their own issues (improving the customer journey), and create a library of knowledge useful for both employees and customers alike.
There have been some impressive improvements in businesses following the implementation of KCS. Many businesses see that customers resolve their issues on the first contact and customer service personnel are retained more with a shorter onboarding time.
It might seem unlikely that the simple implementation of KCS improves employee retention, but consider that through it employees actually win back more of their time. If the problem they are trying to solve already has a clearly documented solution that they can regurgitate with their customer then they will spend less time looking for and implementing a solution from nothing.
It’s true that they will likely have to spend more time initially, given there will be no documentation to start with, but as time passes incidents of completely new customer service requests will decrease.
Similar can be said for customers and users. If they receive a relatively uniform and easy-to-follow customer service process, and certainly if they can help themselves without relying on a customer service representative, then they’ll be happier with the product or service. Plus they’re far more likely to build trust with the organization. A positive experience with KCS implies future experiences will be positive, and they should be given the uniformity of the knowledge base.
KCS is applicable across a range of different businesses, industries, and workplaces. The beauty of KCS is that it can be used to resolve both employee and customer issues. The following examples give an indication of how KCS can be seen in action:
The process can be summed up in three words; capture, structure, and reuse. These words apply to the knowledge within the company. As customer service personnel interact with users they capture their own knowledge into documentation, then structure it within a knowledge base, and finally, they or the users reuse this knowledge in the future.
Elaborating further, there are 5 core steps that you need to undertake when implementing Knowledge-Centered Service.
When requests come in from customers that have yet to be covered by an existing article, the representative creates a new document that outlines the issue, steps taken to resolve it, and what customers can do to help themselves in the future. By following this process the knowledge base isn’t created from a contrived list of problems that the business thinks customers will face, but rather problems that customers have faced and likely will do again.
A knowledge base works best when it is created in a uniform manner. By doing so it will be easily searchable, more accessible, and, most importantly, will actually be used by the users. The same can be said for the actual documents themselves, they should follow a strict template so that each article has a recognizable format.
As a customer service request comes in, the first step of the process should be to check the knowledge base for an existing document. If one exists then it should be reused.
Going beyond the base model, the Improve step (and the following Analysis step) are visible within best practice Knowledge-Centered Service examples. Customer service agents should be responsible for the ongoing development of the knowledge base. When they reuse old articles they should investigate if the solution is still correct and if all steps are still relevant. If new knowledge has become available or if the solution has changed, the article should be improved.
Integrating the Improve step into the standard KCS process allows the updating task to be shared by the whole team. If delegated to a single member, chances are that the task will either take a long time to update (especially for larger knowledge bases) or will be pushed down the daily tasks.
The very best KCS systems will spend time analyzing how their users and employees interact with it. Over time there will be an impressive amount of analytical data available on which resources have been used the most, in what way, and by who. This level of analytical investigation will allow businesses to see what areas of their product or service require simplification or improvement. The smoother the process the user has with the product or service, the better, KCS analysis allows you to iron out the kinks.
The aim of KCS is the save employees time, provide an expanse of knowledge for employees and users to lean on, and provide a top-quality user experience when they seek to resolve issues themselves. Implemented correctly, it will do this and more.