CustomerServiceI am having fun exploring the different areas of customer service in relation to the new world of knowledge management. I hope you are as well.

To recap, we have explored the areas of FCR (and how to avoid it in a world where there should be no more calls and support is peer-to-peer via communities), how to get more knowledge out of what you are already doing, and how to become more effective in your customer service. These are sine-qua-non elements of your new service initiative, if they are not yet – they must be soon.

If you did, or are doing, all of these things you may still have questions about how to measure effectiveness. We discussed it briefly in the effectiveness article; there are few ways to do this more – well, effectively – than using customer satisfaction. I am not a big fan of any of the “fuzzy metrics” (metrics that cannot be replicated easily, or that measure feelings and emotions – which change frequently and which companies cannot control (but can influence). If had to choose one, I’d choose CSAT since it at least involves asking the customer directly for his or her opinion – which is the basis for effectiveness.

The question then becomes, as we explore the new world of knowledge management, how do you use knowledge to ensure satisfied customers?

Let’s explore this in two parts: knowledge about the problems and solutions, and knowledge about the customers.

TSIA report

Unlocking Relevant Knowledge

Let’s be honest, whenever we hear the words “Knowledge Management” we immediately assume we are dealing with knowledge bases and support issues. At worse, we think we are talking about FAQ and other simple answers. If that were the case, and for most organizations that are set up to support their customers the old fashioned way – it is the case, then the knowledge necessary to ensure customer satisfaction is simple: we must have the answers to all their problems. All of them, not just some of them. The answers must be searchable, easily available, and constantly and automatically updated as necessary. Well, maybe not that simple…actually, if you consider the complexity of the world we live in and how much more complex it gets almost every day – very complicated.

How can you ensure you always have the right, updated, and verified information at hand in your knowledge base? You can’t, and I already took on that in several of the latest writings (especially when talking about knowledge in use over knowledge in storage). The best way to have the answer to all solutions is to integrate your static knowledge with the dynamic collective knowledge that happens in online communities – and offer that to the user at the right time. That way you can ensure you have the right answer to the problem they have, at the right time, in the right place.

Leverage Knowledge to Power Customer Service

The often forgotten part of the equation on customer satisfaction is knowing your customers. This is tricky to understand – after all, support organizations are about solving problems, not establishing relationships with customers and getting to know them.

Let me explain a little with an example. A printer company had a specific customer who, each time there was an upgrade to a driver, called and complained until this company sent a technician to do the upgrade for them (these were not your traditional printers, but specialized industrial printers). A new manager was brought into the support operation and immediately noticed that every 6 to 8 months there was a service call to this customer and inquired as to why. When she was told the reason, she pulled the information about the customer and noticed two things:

  • The customer had not brought any new product in the past five years
  • The customer had expressed several times in surveys that he did not want to have an agent sent to his place, but would rather have carefully explained step-by-step instructions on how to do the work himself.

Four months went by, a new update was released and this new manager called the customer and explained that based on her research she was going to send a step-by-step video on how to do the upgrade and include a toll-free number to call in case he had any problems. Following the successful upgrade the customer returned the feedback form with the highest satisfaction ratings since he had become a customer.

If you know your customers, what they want, and what they need and find a win-win model where they can get it while you get what your organization needs, the customer satisfaction scores are going to be very high.

As I am certain, you can find different areas where deeper knowledge provided by customers, communities, and even static databases can contribute to higher customer satisfaction. Potentially you can use the knowledge about products, support issues, and customers’ needs and desires to provide service proactively when a new event happens. Or you could merge information about best functioning and more effective channels with customers’ expectations for speedy resolution and let them know which channels perform better. Or something else, something you can figure out about your organization.

Knowledge is all around us and we need to leverage that as much as possible to deliver satisfaction to our customers; customer satisfaction starts with met expectations, and matching those to corporate knowledge is what service and support is all about.

Don’t you think? Do you see it in a different way? Is there something else I am missing?

Would love your comments below.