What is Organizational Knowledge?

Organizational knowledge encompasses all of a company’s valuable information that brings benefits. This knowledge can include anything from customer insights to technical support information, customer interactions, employee handbooks, manuals, lessons learned that formed best practices, and more. It’s a dynamic form of organized information that is created, used, and exchanged by the people working in the contact center (human capital).

Organizational Knowledge Diagram

Types of Organizational Knowledge

To understand how knowledge is important for an organization and the difference it can make, there has to be an understanding about the different knowledge that exists today. Here, we provide definitions and examples for each term:

Tacit Knowledge

Also known as Implicit Knowledge or wisdom, this refers to skills and abilities that are challenging to express or teach to others. An example of this would be the inherent talents of “natural sales professionals,” which are not easily transferable to different individuals. This type of knowledge is often deemed inaccessible and plays a crucial role in providing a competitive advantage since it is hard for others to replicate.

Explicit Knowledge

Explicit Knowledge refers to all knowledge that is not tacit or implicit. This can be recorded in various forms such as documents or media. Such knowledge can be easily expressed in written or spoken language. Tools such as databases and manuals can be used for the documentation of such knowledge. Reference material in libraries and textbooks are great examples of Explicit Knowledge as they contain information that is easily accessible and tangible.

Individual Knowledge

Within any contact center, learning and knowledge start with the agents that make up the organization. This includes each person’s skills, the way they learn, their strengths, and the mode of preferred communication. All of this helps influence how this individual seeks out information, prioritizes it, and then works around related tasks. The knowledge-sharing culture of a contact center largely determines how effective individual efforts can be, especially concerning agent motivation.

Collective Knowledge

Collective Knowledge extends beyond the mere accumulation of individual agents’ expertise within a contact center. It encompasses how this knowledge is shared and harnessed to generate fresh insights and innovative solutions. This holistic concept encompasses the establishment of rules, procedures, and processes that govern effective communication and collaborative utilization of knowledge to address challenges and find solutions.

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Importance of Accessing Customer Data in Contact Centers

Quick access to customer data is imperative for agents, especially if there’s a customer service representative dealing with a customer complaint call. To solve the matter quickly, the agent will need to access the customer’s account information, past purchase history, and any relevant support articles during the call to help resolve the issue. Without a central repository of customer information, the representative will have to spend a significant amount of time wading through different systems and documents, delaying the resolution of the customer’s issue.

A knowledge management system can help representatives by giving them fast and easy access to customer information. Centralizing all customer information in a single repository makes it easy for agents to find the right information at the right time. Additionally, the knowledge management system can be used to create support articles that provide step-by-step instructions on how to resolve common customer complaints. This can enable quick and efficient resolutions, improving customer satisfaction.

Creates a Shared Organizational Memory

Contact Centers are dynamic. New agents are hired and older ones move on to other opportunities. Their knowledge goes with them when they leave a contact center. To ensure that the contact center’s knowledge base is not lost, it is essential to have a knowledge management system in place. This would capture, store, and share the knowledge of a contact center’s employees. The knowledge can be anything from technical expertise to best practices. Capturing and sharing this, organizations can ensure their agents have access to the information they need to be successful.

Enables More Knowledgeable Decision-Making

In any contact center, knowledge management is essential to provide optimal customer service. Here are just a few examples:

When customer success managers can easily access customer feedback, it helps them understand customer satisfaction levels and attrition risks.

Customer service reps can provide better service when they have quick access to the information they need to answer questions and address concerns.

Sales teams function better when they have strong leads to build their sales efforts around a targeted audience.

A knowledge management system can facilitate speedy and hassle-free access to all this information so teams can make more knowledgeable decisions faster. This is especially beneficial when it comes to contact centers where agents are working to balance speeding up their average call time with satisfying customers.

Enhances Contact Center Efficiency

Knowledge Management Systems empower agents to reduce time spent on information retrieval and instead, focus on the customer’s needs. Moreover, these systems prevent the need for continuous learning or relearning of information and processes, as well as redundant work—reducing agents’ cognitive load. As a result, operational inefficiencies are eliminated, leading to a significant boost in productivity.

Increased Working Collaboration Opportunities

When it comes to fostering trust among teams, knowledge management systems play a pivotal role. By providing transparency and convenient access to contact center-wide information, these systems facilitate a shared understanding, encourage collaboration, and promote alignment towards mutual objectives.

Higher Employee Satisfaction

When a contact center invests in its agents by investing in systems that provide information they need, it is a clear indicator that employees are valued for their skills and time. Agents with easy access to valuable and accurate information will be able to work better and ensure higher quality customer service results, which further motivates them to continue doing better.

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Contact Center Knowledge Sources

For contact centers, there are several knowledge sources:

Individual Sources

Largely considered to be pulled from tacit knowledge/understanding of anything, this is the most basic source. Knowledge from an individual source can be explicit if it is documented in a book or in any other format.

Groups or Community Sources

In contact centers, there is often knowledge that already exists within certain groups but isn’t known to others in the company. Enterprises are often made up of informal “communities of practice,” which are connected by a set of shared practices. Such communities have common values, language, procedures, and know-how, serving as sources of learning and storage for different types of knowledge, including tacit, explicit, and embedded knowledge.

Structural Sources

Embedded knowledge presents a valuable advantage for organizations, enabling them to enhance efficiency, effectiveness, and innovation. However, it can also pose challenges as it might not be explicitly known, making it difficult to transfer to new employees or adapt to new situations.

Likewise, a software company’s product development processes and culture may contain embedded knowledge about creating high-quality software. While this knowledge might not be explicitly communicated to engineers, it influences their work processes and decisions.

Organizational Sources

As a concept, organizational knowledge does not have a universal understanding or consensus around it. Differences can include how widespread the knowledge is inside an organization and what this knowledge comprises as well. There is no documented and specific literature on this.

Extra-Organizational Sources

This refers to sources of knowledge that are outside the contact center but that can still be utilized to improve organizational performance. It also includes explicit knowledge systems such as publications or tacit ones such as those of community practice that go beyond a contact center’s internal systems.

Benefits of Organizational Knowledge for Contact Centers

The primary benefit of organizational knowledge is that it enhances performance and pushes growth. When a contact center becomes of the kind that is knowledge-sharing, it has several other benefits that we go through in this section.

Accelerates New Employee Onboarding

Efficiently bringing new employees up to speed is essential for productivity. An enterprise-level knowledge management system expedites their access to information, eliminates frustrations in searching for answers, and reduces training time and costs.

Enhances Agents’ Focus on Meaningful Work

Everyone wants to spend their time on impactful, outcome-driven tasks rather than being bogged down by everyday email correspondence and searching for documents. A knowledge management system minimizes chat and email interruptions, providing employees with quick, easy, and hassle-free access to enterprise knowledge. The better access agents have to this knowledge, the easier it is to have a positive impact on the contact center itself.

Reduces Average Handle Time and Expenses

A comprehensive knowledge base for agents and customers with tutorials, guides, help articles, and more, empowers people to find answers on their own. This decreases the average handle time (AHT) and costs spent on customer support. Additionally, the knowledge base equips agents with better access to knowledge, leading to faster ticket resolution and improved operational efficiency.

Enhances All Information Quality

A reliable organizational knowledge management system creates a single source of truth, eliminating obsolete and scattered documents. This ensures that everyone is on the same page right from the start, fostering the accuracy and consistency of all information.

Cultivates an Innovative Culture

Improved access to enterprise knowledge empowers teams to make well-informed decisions and learn from past mistakes, expediting success. Knowledge management fosters collaboration and idea sharing, serving as a catalyst for change and innovation.

Knowledge management is vital for organizations seeking to scale their growth while promoting agent collaboration across teams and locations. It ensures smooth operations by equipping teams with the essential information and resources to excel in their responsibilities. Furthermore, knowledge management aids in preserving valuable knowledge for future use, resulting in enhanced efficiency, improved working experiences, and decreased repetitive tasks.

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