The complete guide to Knowledge Management Systems

Guide to Knowledge Management Systems for call centres and customer service

The complete guide to Knowledge Management Systems

Having implemented and installed Knowledge Management Systems I’m already a huge fan.

But a surprising number of contact centre practitioners haven’t even heard of one or a little confused on exactly what they actually do.

Either way, you’ll be pretty excited when you learn how simple and effective they can be in driving significant change across your business.

This article provides you with an overview of Knowledge Management Systems and outlines the benefits you can obtain in your contact centre and across the broader business.

Firstly, a definition of Knowledge Management

Knowledge Management Systems within a customer service environment typically store product, process and policy information in one central repository to enable the organisation to be certain only the most current information is being accessed.

Knowledge Management Systems typically do not hold information on specific customers – this is the domain of Customer Management Systems.

One of the things I hear all the time is “But I already have a Knowledge Management System”.

And in 99% of those cases, no they don’t.

If you have an intranet, internet page, Sharepoint, or even an Excel Spreadsheet that is NOT a Knowledge Management Platform despite what your IT department may tell you.

If a call centre agent has to hunt for information searching through large chunks of text on the screen, or isn’t prompted on what to say or do next then sorry, you are not the proud owner of a KMS.

By reading the remainder of this article you will come to appreciate just exactly what a Knowledge Management System is, and how it can benefit your contact centre.

3 Key drivers for needing knowledge management systems

1. Fast Answers

Customer Service environments need a knowledge management system which provides the answer the customer requires as quickly and accurately as possible.

Customers do not want to read through long documents in the search for the answer or wait on the phone while the customer service representative searches for it.

This point was recently highlighted in a study conducted by Verint as seen below in Figure 1.

Livepro Picture1

This need for fast answers provided in the most efficient manner through all communication channels is what differentiates Customer Service Knowledge Management from all other forms of Knowledge Management.

The knowledge management requirements for say, and IT Department, where the emphasis is on solving problems through collaboration or reviewing documents written by people with a similar problem in the past is vastly different.

Similarly, the knowledge management requirements for a legal department where case notes and previous cases need to be reviewed will also be very different.

As a result of these specific Knowledge Management needs for Customer Service environments, specific “built-for-purpose” systems have been developed with features specifically designed to take the person to the answer to their enquiry, no matter how complex the question.

2. The impact of technology – the Omni-channel challenge

Customer Service has been made much more complex with the explosion of channels available for customers to connect to organisations.

Consumers expect to be able to connect with organisations through any of the communication channels available to them – over the counter, over the phone, (direct and IVR), through the company website, over chat, email, SMS and through social media.

The real challenge for Organisations is not only engaging with customers through all of these channels but making sure the information is consistent across all channels in real time.

A poll of 7000 people across 7 countries by Zendesk revealed that 64% of customers expect to receive real-time customer support regardless of the channel.

To complicate things even more, the process needs to be seamless if they want to move from one channel to the next.

As a result of these customer demands the CSKMs must be able to serve the answers through all channels from one central source to ensure the answers are consistent and current.

3. The unique challenges presented by mobile

Customer expectation for immediacy with customer service and the demand for instant answers is being driven by the explosion in the use of smartphones and other portable devices.

Customers can now connect with Organisations in up to 6 different ways (channels) through one mobile device which is always with them.

And they expect the answer at the same speed through whatever channel they use.

A quality KMS will be equipped to serve an organisation’s knowledge through all of these channels from one central database.

While mobile devices bring a lot of challenges for customer service they also provide a lot of opportunities.

The fact mobile phones facilitate so many different channels for customers to contact us means we can reach them more quickly and more cost effectively if organisations do it right.

Built for purpose KMSs provide analytics to proactively push information to social media and your website on trending customer issues to make it easy for the customer to answer their own enquiries.

Four key benefits of using a knowledge management system in customer service

So hopefully by now, we’ve illustrated the need for fast and accurate answers!

The solution, of course, is a Knowledge Management System so we’ve listed the four key benefits you will receive when you implement one:

1. Increased customer satisfaction

  • Answers delivered quickly and accurately
  • The customer feels they are talking to a knowledgeable operator
  • First call resolution improved
  • Same answer no matter where they look for the answer
  • Customers can self-serve more extensively at the time and in the channel they choose
  • Customers can provide feedback and even rate the helpfulness of the information they obtain
  • Analytics can be used to proactively provide information to customers
  • NPS improves with Customer Satisfaction increasing customer loyalty

2. Financial (cost reduction & increased sales)

  • Average Handling Time reduced (typically between 5 and 20%)
  • Handoffs reduced
  • Induction Training Reduced as staff are no longer expected to memorise product process or procedural information
  • Increase in self-serve reduces calls to Customer Service teams
  • Time to competency for staff is reduced
  • Reduced need for buddies and SMEs
  • Callbacks reduced when the Agent can confidently answer the question
  • Staff turnover reduces as staff are more confident they can do their job
  • Update once in one portal will update all access points/channels
  • Time spent on complaints is reduced
  • Up-selling can be far more effective as the KMS prompts the agent
  • Sales improve as staff can more confidently talk about the products

3. Risk & compliance improvements

  • Product policy and process information centrally managed so only the most current and correct information can be access by clients and agents
  • Version Control significantly improved
  • No longer reliant on a small number of SMEs
  • Product Process and Policy information can no longer leave with employees
  • Permissions within the system ensure staff only have access to the information they need to perform their job
  • Workflow allows control over the author, edit and release of information
  • History allows transparency over what information was available for the Agent to view at any particular time

4. Staff engagement

  • Staff are more confident they can answer customer enquiries
  • Quality systems allow staff to provide feedback and rate knowledge articles providing them with confidence the information is accurate, up-to-date and user-friendly.
  • Staff retention improves as staff are more confident they can do their job

Common questions with knowledge management systems

How many staff are required to manage and operate a knowledge management system?

Cloud-based systems can be fully managed by the business without the need for assistance IT.

In organisations of less than 100 users, the day-to-day management and authoring is often carried out by existing staff within the customer service and training departments.

Typically if the operation is larger there is generally one employee allocated to the management and operations of the system on a part-time basis.

Enterprise or software on-premise applications typically require a technical owner in the IT environment

How much effort is required to get started?

An organisation’s level of process and knowledge maturity will have a large impact on the speed at which the system is up and running.

Cloud systems can be ready to start populating within days, it then depends on if the knowledge can be imported or if it has to be rewritten.

How much does as Knowledge Management System cost?

Most knowledge management system providers offer flexible monthly pricing with a per agent per month model with minimal upfront costs making it easy to scale with your business.

They are incredibly cost-effective with a strong Return on Investment.

And it’s not uncommon for it to start in the contact centre and then roll out to the rest of the organisation!

Want a free no-obligation char about the best Knowledge Management System for your business?

Search our Business Directory for local suppliers of Knowledge Management technology or leave your details below for a free, no-obligation chat on the best Knowledge Management Solution for your business.

Like to listen and learn?

Listen to our podcast on Knowledge Management Tools:

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Justin Tippett
About Justin Tippett 78 Articles

I'm the founder of CX Group Australia - helping businesses and customer experience professionals to source, deliver and optimise customer experience solutions to drive business outcomes and I'm available for consulting and training services.


I'm also the person responsible for the terrible memes on the Call Centre Legends page😮


When I'm not working, I enjoy pretending that 40 something isn't that old and it's still not too late for a professional sporting career.

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