Knowledge management supports your agents by reducing their cognitive load

7 minute read

Stin Mattu Product Marketing Manager for Contact Center Products

The role of a customer service agent isn’t an easy one. Even if the call types are consistent, each customer will have different circumstances that have led to their request for help. Each call is as unique as a fingerprint, no two are the same.

Companies put hours of training in to help call center agents gain the right soft skills to provide world-class customer service. While this can ensure that agents are confident to serve even the most challenging customer on a call, they still need to have the right level of knowledge to assist with the query. All sounds simple so far but for anyone who has donned a headset at any point in their working career, you will know the amount of stress and pressure you can be put under when you can’t find the right information to make things right for your customer. Knowledge management can help.

What is cognitive load?

The human brain has always been considered as the most advance in the spectrum of intelligence across all the species that populate the planet. Evolution has seen us create some amazing innovations that have led us to the current age where a knowledge management system can assist us by reducing cognitive load.

Cognitive load is a psychological term used to describe the amount of working memory resource that the brain uses. Think about when you use a laptop, computer, or mobile device, to get you what you need, the device will use different types of memory to complete the action. Your documents, music or videos will be stored on the hard drive while your applications will use RAM memory to function correctly. Over time both sets of memory can slow down due to the volume of information they store, which often results in us getting frustrated and upgrading either the memory or, the entire device itself.

Unlike a tech device, humans don’t have the ability to upgrade our internal memory. With the number of things that happen in our daily lives, it is near impossible for most of us to hold every piece of information in our memory for immediate recall.

So how do we support agents to reduce cognitive load?

The answer to this question is luckily an easy one, the right knowledge management software. Having a centralized knowledgebase helps agents concentrate on listening to the customer, understanding what the query is and then being able to search for an answer or follow a set of guided instructions that help them serve the customer in the best way possible.

Here at Upland, we are experts in providing knowledge management solutions based on a diverse range of use cases in call centers. Two of our products, Panviva and RightAnswers are perfect to help organizations reduce the cognitive load on their agents.

How to make knowledge a core component of outstanding customer service delivery.

The benefits of knowledge management can start from the very beginning of an agent’s journey into the company by using your KM tool through training. From my own personal experience as a knowledge manager at a leading utilities company in the UK, we helped our learning and development colleagues reduce the training time needed from three weeks down to one and a half weeks. Instead of having to give intense product and service knowledge, delegates were coached on how to access the knowledgebase and find the information they needed. This allowed trainers to concentrate on systems and soft skills while embedding a behavior of searching the KB for the answers as needed.

Once out of training and into a consolidation period, organizations who adopt this approach can reduce the number of floorwalkers they need to support new start agents, which means the more experienced agents can remain on calls. Reducing the ratio becomes easier over the coming weeks as agents become more confident knowing that all they must do is use their knowledge management tool to get the answers they need.

The new start agents benefit by not being overwhelmed by the amount of information they must learn and retain, while the organization saves on training costs and can get agents in operation quicker without compromising the delivery of the right information to customers.

When fully immersed into the daily life in the contact center, speed to competency is accelerated as the behavior on how and when to engage with the knowledgebase is embedded into the agents psyche, making the use of the knowledge management system a natural part of their role.

Errors can happen, how can we use a knowledge management system to improve?

To help reduce errors and continuously improve, knowledge has a pivotal part to play in quality assurance. Having knowledge management software that allows you to view reports, lets you see if knowledge was accessed at the time of a call that led to an error. This can help identify coaching opportunities that ultimately, improve the agent’s ability to deliver a better customer experience and protect the organization’s brand reputation.

How do I choose the right solution?

In one of my previous blogs, ‘Having knowledge isn’t the option, how it’s delivered is’, I have given examples of how Panviva and RightAnswers can be effective in different contact center use cases. Whether it’s using the Panviva ‘guide on the side’ decision trees to take agents step by step through complex call types in highly compliant industries, or the power of RightAnswers enterprise search and best in class Knowledge Centered Service (KCS) tools, our team can talk you through the best options to overcome your knowledge management challenges. For more information and a demo, please reach out to the team and we will be happy to help you find the right option to reduce the cognitive load for your agents.

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