By: Steve McKinney On: September 23, 2014 In: Contact Center Comments: 0

I’m almost out of breathe from running.  No, I haven’t suddenly taken up exercise, although I need to! Rather I’m running from roof top to roof top yelling at the top of my lungs, “Get your Knowledge Management in place.” 

Whether you’re a company who encourages phones calls into the service area or not, your customers are changing their behavior. You may have noticed that more and more customers from the younger generations prefer to do almost anything to avoid speaking to someone on the phone. Industry analysts have been warning us for years that we should be ready for the human-less interactions these customers want. Not having a solid, well-thought-out knowledge base for customers is no longer a ‘nice to have’, it’s a MUST have.


What can you expect from taking on this very achievable Knowledge Initiative?

  • 35% reduction in the time that it takes to train new agents
  • 40% reduction in inbound emails due to easy access to information
  • 25% agent shift away from low-value calls due to self-service knowledge search
  • 40% reduction in talk time in a support center
  • 8% reduction in support calls
  • 25% or more reduction in customer support costs when a proper KM discipline is in place

Personally, I have launched knowledge management systems for customers and witnessed the exact benefits listed above. So I can honestly say that these type of results are attainable!

Getting Started

I don’t know about you, but those are the kind of stats I would love to report back to an Executive Management team. I often get asked “Steve, how do we even go about getting started with a customer focused knowledge system?” It’s a great question, and I have some good advice on how to start. First, don’t over think it. A few years ago, the U.S. State Department did just that when launching a web knowledge base. They contracted with a top university to design articles they thought citizens would need. Two years and 100 answers later that idea flopped when they discovered only 8% of citizens found those articles helpful. When the State Department followed the guidelines I’m about to give you, they achieved an 89% helpfulness rate.



1. Enable your customers to drive content

  • They should be able to vote with one click if the answer was good or not
  • Use a web form to allow customers to give you explicit feedback on what they would change

2. Look for trends in customer complaints 

  • Review notes from phone calls
  • Look at subject lines from customer emails

 3. Allow agents and staff to propose answers for use on the web site (articles)

  • More times than not, the people who have the pulse of the customer are the front-line staff. It’s wise to give them a BIG voice in article ideas
  • Get others involved: sales, marketing, shipping and so on (all of these departments have a voice, make them part of the process)

4. Perform analysis of web (customer) search terms and phrases

  • Knock on the door of your web team or IT department and ask if they have a report on search terms (this will tell you a lot about what customers are looking for)

5. Begin the process of making knowledge part of the organization’s culture

  • Promote this knowledge base internally and make it fun – have contests on submitting a winning article
  • Make up posters, t-shirts, etc. about your organization’s knowledge

What are some quick tips and best practices when setting up Knowledge for Customer Service?


Less is More!!!

  • Use the 80/20 rule in knowledge management
  • Too many articles only causes clutter
  • Users spend 80% of their time looking at information above the page fold (if they have to scroll to read the whole article, it’s too long)
  • Make knowledge dynamic (place relevant answers at the point of need)
  • Utilize a knowledge system that ranks answers and places best at the top of the list

Using your Knowledge

Now let’s fast forward a couple months and you now have the above completed. You’re ready to roll out your shiny new knowledge system. Where should this knowledge be used for immediate and almost miracle-like results? The simple answer is EVERYWHERE.  Let me be very specific:

  1. Web Site/eCommerce (Mobile Enabled)
  2. Agent Desktop
    • Email Responses
    • Chat Responses
    • Voice (Agent)
  3. Social
    • Facebook
    • Twitter
    • YouTube
    • Instagram
  4. Mobile ordering app (if you have one)
  5. Internal staff knowledge base

As you put the pieces of your knowledge intiative puzzle together, reach out. I’d like to hear what you’re learning and other ideas you run across in your knowledge base creation. And as always, if you need any help achieving your knowledge management goals, we’re standing by to help. All the best!