Customer Service Transformation Requires Change – That Shouldn’t Be Scary!
Don’t change a thing! How’s that working for you?
We are all resistant to change. Reasons include fear of the unknown, fear of failure and distress at leaving one’s comfort zone.
But in your support organization, if the way you’re doing things isn’t getting you the results you want, then change is a must.
Change is hard. Not changing is fatal.
How to transform your support
For over a decade, RightAnswers has been helping organizations transform their customer service and support through better knowledge management. After all, the crux of any customer service experience is knowledge – the company’s vetted content that answers customers’ questions.
We have found that there are two foundational areas you must address to transform the support organization:
- Define processes for your support staff to follow
- Invest in your staff, making sure they have the tools they need to succeed
When undertaking any process with variable steps and many people, success requires a systematic way of working and tying all the pieces together. Through a structured, repeatable process, you can apply the same approach each time. You know which tasks are required, when to perform them and how to complete them. And a standard approach can be measured, which allows for continual improvement.
Knowledge-Centered Service (KCS℠) is a proven set of practices for knowledge management. The main goals of KCS are to:
- Create content, or knowledge, that is useful for customer service
- Evolve the knowledge to keep it current
- Develop a knowledge base of the organization’s collective knowledge
- Increase the adoption of the knowledge initiative by support agents and customers
KCS provides guidelines to ensure that knowledge is written for maximum usability and “findability.” It defines an Article Quality Index (AQI) that identifies well-written knowledge (for example, does the knowledge article include a clear subject line, complete thoughts, consistent formats, correct hyperlinks and so on).
KCS also encourages all employees to contribute to the knowledge base, increasing employee engagement with the knowledge. KCS maintains that providing support agents with clear goals, visibility to the impact of their contribution and recognition of their achievements increases their engagement with the knowledge. The methodology recommends tools such as gamification to encourage desired behaviors, such as searching the knowledge base for answers and fixing answers that need updating.
By promoting these practices, KCS ensures that knowledge is well-written and usable. As the knowledge base proves its value in solving customer problems, a cycle of knowledge reuse, updating and creation will ensue, further strengthening the knowledge base and increasing adoption. (Success breeds success!)
Investing in your staff
When support agents don’t have the tools to do their job well, they become frustrated and disengaged. And only engaged employees build engaged customers. Moreover, engaged employees are 18% more productive, 87% more likely to stay in their job and make much fewer errors (Source: State of the Global Workplace, Gallup).
Keep customer service agents engaged by giving them the tools they need and the autonomy to do their jobs – using the KCS methodology and also a system that makes it easy for them to find and use knowledge and link knowledge to tickets or cases. Ideally, the knowledge management system should integrate with your CRM or other system of record, so agents don’t have to swap between systems as they work.
By investing in the support organization, rather than settling for mediocre tools, company leadership sends the message that support agents are important to the company, which keeps them motivated.
How to reduce change anxiety
Intellectually you know that KCS and the right knowledge management tools can make a difference in your support, but taking that step toward change is still difficult.
Working with a trusted vendor that guarantees your success can alleviate some anxiety. Some guidelines for evaluating knowledge management vendors:
- Ask for client references who will attest to the vendor’s responsiveness and the quality of its client success team
- Find out the extent to which the vendor works hand-in-hand with its clients to help improve their knowledge initiatives and, ultimately, their customer service
- Find out the vendor’s knowledge of KCS and the number of its clients using KCS successfully
- Get details about the rollout schedule and onboarding timeframe; request guarantees
The best vendors are committed to your success. Choose one that will partner with you on your knowledge journey, with the end goal of delighting your customers at every point of contact.
KCS is a service mark of the Consortium for Service Innovation.
Author: Gary Schwartz