Knowledge Management Software

How Knowledge Management Software is the new ‘must-have’ for your contact centre

Host of the CX Central Podcast Justin Tippett is joined by the Managing Director of livepro Brad Shaw to explain all about Knowledge Management software or systems that are now commonly found in contact centres for a good reason, it’s almost impossible to run a contact centre without one!

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Knowledge Management Systems with Brad Shaw, MD of livepro

[JT] Welcome to the CX Central podcast and videocast, my name is Justin Tippett and today I’m joined by the managing director of livepro Brad Shaw, welcome Brad.

It’s been a been a crazy year and can you believe it, I actually looked at the date we last spoke and it was August 8th 2019 – what a difference the world has been since then!

So today we want to cover a few topics with you and of course, one of those is going to be Knowledge Management because that’s the business that you’re in.

But I also want to talk a little bit about Brad Shaw the man because for those that don’t know you, you started your career in recruitment as the regional manager for Asia-Pacific for Kelly Services.

You went into your own management consulting business with the Elite Leadership Group so it was an interesting road that lead you to livepro, tell me about those recruitment days?

[BS] I remember when I joined from a bank to recruitment and everybody said what are you doing, joining the great unwashed? But the thing about recruitment is it’s a tough game, it seriously is a tough game, but there are some great people in there and I really enjoyed it because of the people.

You know when it’s a tough game, you learn a lot and I definitely learned a lot and did a lot of flying!  Because I was a regional GM,  I had to fly to Detroit every three months for a one-day meeting so it was three days worth of travel for a one-day meeting and they wondered why I fell asleep during the meeting!

That was a long time ago then yes, I got into coaching and that was awesome. The guy that had the software company that serviced the recruitment company found out that I’d left Kelly and rang and said: “what are you going to do because I’ve got a business coach, and I’ve seen what you’ve done in Kelly and I think I’ve outgrown the current one”.

That grew into 320 customers over a 12 year period and I think there were 120 different organisations and 40 different industries from a guy that had a veterinary franchise,  a guy that had a product that mapped the seabed floor right through to the AMP and that sort of thing.

I really enjoyed the smaller business ones, you can get so much more done when you’re in small business, big businesses are all about how well do you play the politics, how well do you convince everybody that you’re right and it takes forever whereas smaller businesses you can just get things going and I love it!

The birth of livepro

[JT]  You’ve helped a lot of businesses be successful through your coaching and mentoring and then next thing you’re running a tech company… What the hell happened?

[BS] My first client as a coach was a tech guy, and I had a lot of tech clients and I learned a lot from them. The part-owner of livepro was part of a CEO group that I used to run once a month where I used to get a bunch of CEO’s together and we’d get outside speakers in and when you joined, you had to actually demonstrate the product so everybody in the group knew what product you had.

Brad Shaw managing director livepro
Brad Shaw, Managing Director, livepro

I saw what he had with livepro I thought wow, that was awesome! It was only a small part of a big business and the big business was sold to Ricoh and Ricoh said we don’t need this livepro product.

So I said to the guy, what are you going do with this? He said he didn’t know as at that stage Justin it wasn’t making any money and only had about eight customers. I said well you can’t let it die, why don’t I see if I can find somebody that can run it for you?

I’ve got this thing that you should not run a business unless you’re passionate about it and I wasn’t passionate about livepro.

I was passionate about the livepro products, but I was a business coach and so I was passionate about that. So I spent six months looking at all of my old contacts seeing if they wanted to do it but as the business wasn’t making any money, they had to do it for no money and some equity and I struggled to find anyone.

I was looking at what the business should do and honestly this is going to sound corny, but 2 a.m one morning I woke up with a business plan in my head for livepro and had to get it out of my head. I finished it at about five, sent an email to the guy that I was coaching and said you know what, I think I found the guy that’s really passionate about livepro…

And honestly, it’s happened since then – I bought into the business and then over time I’ve got a major share and you know I am still extremely passionate about it!

The thing I love about it as a business coach or as a businessman was I had to run a big business with somebody else and do it their way. And then as a business coach,  I was coaching people on how to run their business but you know, they still do it their way.  So with livepro, I’ve actually got to run a business the way I want to run it.

The big focus is about having really really happy customers and you only have to talk to any of my customers and they love it! I’m proud of it and I know it’s going to sound corny and I know it’s going to sound shallow, but I do and my team does whatever we can to make sure the customers are happy.

The second thing is I have to have a great team and those two things are the things I’m most proud about and everybody that listens to me knows just how proud I am of my team.

It’s hard to get into livepro, if I make a mistake it’s pretty easy for you to get out quickly,  but yeah,  anybody that deals with livepro know’s how great the team is so I get to now run a business that I love with the team that I love, doing it with customers who I love working with so it’s almost the dream!

[JT]  As I said earlier we’ve known each other for a while and I know you’re absolutely passionate about livepro and your team and anyone that knows you would also vouch for it!

You said earlier livepro wasn’t making any money when you bought in and you had your business plan but geez, the world’s changed right and obviously from a contact centre perspective, you know the calls that are coming in are just getting more and more complex.

We’ve had so much automation that’s come in and you know I always say to people when’s the last time you rang your bank to ask what your bank balance was?  Never right! You pick up your phone, you look at your app and there’s the answer so the only time you ever ring the bank is when you’ve got a complex issue.

So you’ve got all these agents going “oh god, how the hell do I answer this?” as the questions are getting more complex – it’s really transformed contact centres and so I guess it’s not surprising there’s been a huge growth in knowledge management platforms, not just yours, but of course right across the board because it is just something that is so powerful for contact centres.

What is a Knowledge Management System?

[JT] For those that don’t know what a knowledge management platform is, in simple terms how would you explain it to people?

[BS] Knowledge Management platforms can mean different things to different people – if I’m a lawyer, then I need a knowledge management platform that I can actually search for a case, research the case and you know the amount of time it takes me to find the file it might only be 10 minutes and I’m going to read that file for five or six hours – so the ratio of effort to finding the information I need is not all that high.

But if you’ve got a customer on the phone, you actually need to be able to get the answer quickly so the knowledge management system for customer service actually has to deliver the answer quickly and accurately.

One of the things I love saying is that customers want answers, not information.

There are too many knowledge management systems out there that actually provide you with information but if you’re on a call with a client, or if you’ve got a client coming to your website, they don’t want to read through a 30-page PDF to find an answer.

They actually just want the answer and that’s where a good customer experience knowledge management system will actually take you – directly to an answer.

You need a great search, but you also need the format for how to deliver an answer and you know there are different answers for different things.

If I need a process, then I need a different type of answer – I need a step-by-step guide on how to do a process whereas if I actually just want to know the latest thing that’s happened today, then I need to have information that pops up on the screen and says you need to read this now because customers might phone you about this in any minute.

And you can also have a really complex product that needs a lot of different parts to be able to find the right answer for the customer – a good customer experience knowledge management system actually has features in there that guides you to the right answer.

I’m really proud to say we’ve got a feature that nobody else in the world’s got that we call Rocket – it basically can triage you right through any complex process. We did a demo at one of our CX forums where one of our clients used to need to have full-time trained nurses on reception to book people in for radiology and it used to take them six to nine months to get their competency levels.

During the forum, we got people in the audience to book somebody in for an ankle x-ray that typically would take a fully qualified nurse a month to learn how to do it because that’s the difference – the knowledge management system needs to be focused on delivering an answer, not information and it needs to be taking you to the answer simply.

We’ve had companies that have reduced their induction from six weeks down to three days because you don’t teach people to memorize anything if you’ve got a system that can take it to the answer.

Benefits of Implementing KMS in a contact centre

[JT] So for those people that love stats, I’m going to put some stats up on the screen right now because as you said, one of the big advantages is AHT reductions.

We’ve spoken about those more complex calls typically taking longer but if you can put that information up on the screen rather than having to read a whole document, and find the answer to the question the customer is asking,  it basically says here’s the answer and that results in a typical saving of around a 25% reduction in Average Handle Time?

[BS]  We’ve got a bank that reduced their AHT from 10 minutes to six minutes after introducing livepro. They used to have five people in their office walking around with fluoro vests that were the subject matter experts and if you had a call that you didn’t know the answer for, you put your hand up and the fluoro vest person came over and answered your question while you put the customer on hold.

Within eight weeks, they didn’t have anybody with fluoro vests in the in their office because they didn’t need it and that’s the power of actually delivering an answer rather than you know policies you need to read through.

[JT] I noticed another one of the other advantages is cutting transfers again as typically when people get lost and they can’t find the right answer they’ll just handball the customer through to someone else.

[BS] You can imagine what it’s like when I phone my bank who don’t use livepro who transfers me four or five times how frustrating it is when we just want them to say, hey you know what,  we could solve this problem but yes sadly it takes a little while for companies to catch on.

[JT] The benefits of implementing a Knowledge Management Platform aren’t just AHT and cutting transfers though. I think one of the interesting things that you get from knowledge management is an improvement in Staff Engagement.

From an agent’s perspective, they get so frustrated not being able to find the information and help service the customer and they’re stuck looking through post-it notes,  opening up folders on the desk while the customer’s going off at them so it can be pretty frustrating. So the fact that you empower them to actually manage customer enquiries means your staff engagement levels go up.

[BS] It’s a part of the big focus in livepro. When I walked into livepro I said there’s no system implemented until everybody on the team is using it – so it’s not about just introducing the software,  it’s about actually getting everybody to use it.

My team have developed some really innovative and fun ways to make sure that the whole contact centre uses the platform. It doesn’t matter if its 400 people in the Philippines, 300 people in Australia etc – it’s not a successful introduction until everybody’s using it.

I think one of the most powerful things is just giving the agents the opportunity to have a say about what it looks like and what’s in there so when we set the system up, we run the survey called “name me, use me and feed me”.

The feed me part of that is “hey what do you want in the system?” and the second part is allowing the agent to quickly provide feedback.  If you’re on a piece of knowledge and you think hey you know what, you could put some related knowledge in here because the next question the customer always asks is this, can you provide a link on to that etc it takes two seconds to do it.

We’ve even got a part where if you search for something and there’s no answer, there’s a pop-up that says “oh there’s nothing in there at the moment, what do you want in there?” so the no search result thing is pretty powerful as well.

As I said, it’s all about whether the agents or the customer when they go to your website they can find the answer.

[JT] One of the other benefits on top of that Brad is the induction time reduction and you mentioned in the example just before, because the answers are easy to find you can cut typically cut induction periods by around half it’s which is massive!

[BS]  I bragged that we’ve had a number of clients that have reduced it from six weeks to three days – you can’t put those stats up on the website because nobody believes them!  So I don’t actually try and promote that but I love going to client sites and I remember in the early days I went to a number of them and I sat with an agent and I asked her how she was going and she’d been in the company for six weeks and she said Brad,  unfortunately, I won’t name the company,  “when I started in the company there was no induction, I was put on the desk and told to use this system”.

She said that is the only induction I had. Now I’m not recommending that, and I’m sure you wouldn’t recommend that either, but if you’ve got a good knowledge management system it does make onboarding new staff a lot easier.

livepro knowledge management systems for contact centres
A Knowledge Management System is becoming mission-critical software for all contact centres.

A single source of truth 

[JT]  A phrase that gets thrown around a lot when you’re talking about knowledge management tools is that single source of truth.  I can’t tell you Brad, and I’m sure you’ve experienced the same thing when you visited contact centre’s pre livepro of course, you walk around a contact centre and literally everyone’s got folders on their desk, they’ve got sticky notes all over their screens etc. And when you actually open the folders and look at a process etc and then go to another agents desk and open the same process, it’s a different version.

In the days where compliance is so critical its a recipe for disaster.

[BS] A single source of truth becomes pretty critical right. You’ve got to know that they’re actually reading the most current approved information and if you can’t prove to the compliance group that they are reading the most current approved information, then how you going to do it the other key things?

I can’t believe how many companies have a knowledge base for their chat and a knowledge base of their agents and then FAQs on their website. You should just have that one central source of truth delivering the answer to whatever channel the customer wants to ask.

If customers want to come to your front desk,  if they want to come to chat, email etc we’ve even got we’ve got it connected to Salesforce and a number of other systems because you just need to be delivering the answer through whatever channel the customer asks for and the number of channels and ways customers want to connect are increasing all the time.

Can you imagine in 10 years time you’re sitting in your self-drive vehicle and you want to know an answer to something so you just say “Hey Siri,  can you book me into an MRI for my wrist” and it’ll take you through to it.

There’s going to be so many different channels and companies just need to find a knowledge system that takes the answer from the one database.  A funny incident recently was when my wife had bought a little puppy for her daughter. She was trying to get some pet insurance and the telephone call she made sounded a bit like this: “Yeah I know that’s what you think it is, but if you go to your website the PDF actually says this”. “Look I know that, but that’s not what’s on your website…” And so it just went on and on…

[JT]  We touched on it earlier about a reduction in your induction periods and improved compliance and risk. There’s a lot of banks and insurance companies that are already using these tools but the other thing I like around most of the knowledge management platforms that are available, including obviously livepro, is that you can get some analytics on what your staff are actually looking for, how often that article’s been read, when is the last time they accessed information etc so it’s just it just gives you a holistic view around how the knowledge is being used in your organisation.

[BS] It’s even broader than that now because if you connect your knowledge base to the different digital channels, you can actually now see that a customer has come onto your website and searched for three things and then livepro’s got a feature where if you come under the website and you search for something and there’s nothing there,  we’ve got a pop-up that says “hey there’s nothing on our website but we really want to answer your question, can we connect you to an agent?  Would you like to email us?  Would you like to chat with us?”.

The analytics can actually show you what’s not being answered on the website so you can fix it next time, but you can also see the customer journey and I don’t know of any other analytics that provides you with that full digital to customer agent analytics.

Of course, you can also see what knowledge has been trending but you know from a customer service area, you’ve got to actually see what feedback you’re getting on different ones and what knowledge isn’t being used so the analytics is something, particularly the marketing groups, they love it!

You know what it’s like in contact centres, you’re measured on every single thing you do – how much time have you got to leave your desk etc so the measurements that you can get with a good knowledge management system gives the Team Leaders and the managers a lot of insight.

[JT]  I’ve touched on this before we started recording Brad that the recent SMAART Recruitment Industry Best Practice Report (a hundred-page industry report) had lots of information and I was lucky enough to help SMAART put the report together and one of the sections I wrote and spoke about was customer experience.

So I put a question in there Brad which I thought might have been interesting to you… I asked how many organisations or contact centres are using Knowledge Management platforms at the moment and the response, from over 150 call centres or contact centres that responded,  was that it was literally 50/50.  So 50 per cent of contact centres are using them and 50 per cent aren’t.

[BS]  I wonder how are they finding the answers then!

Why purpose-built knowledge management platforms are different 

[JT] One of the things I wanted to clarify though Brad, and I made a big point of it when I was presenting, was that there are a lot of people that go ” oh,  we’ve got a knowledge management platform – we use Microsoft SharePoint or we use Microsoft Word or we’ve got all our answers in an excel document etc” but guess what, that doesn’t mean you have a knowledge management platform right!

[BS]  I’ve got Les Ried who is the global head of sales at livepro and he loves saying that his laptop is a knowledge management system because you’ve got a bunch of files saved on there that you can access.

As I said earlier, knowledge management’s different things to different people but I go back to what I said earlier – in customer service you need a knowledge management system that delivers an answer, not information.

The banks that I mentioned that reduced their AHT from 10 minutes to 6 minutes – they actually had the best SharePoint application that I’d ever seen. It was seriously very good.

But they weren’t getting the staff engagement. So for them, the big thing wasn’t to reduce AHT, it wasn’t necessarily even to improve customer satisfaction, it was all about staff engagement. I’m really proud to say that the staff engagement went up to from 59 to 87 per cent when they got livepro in and you know it’s just because it was taking them directly to the answer and they actually had a knowledge management system fit for purpose.

It wasn’t a SharePoint system that took them to a document that they weren’t sure was really right and it wasn’t really formatted the way you wanted it and you know and they couldn’t give feedback on it.

So yes, there is a big difference between the two and when you spend your life in contact centres, can you believe that there are poor agents out there that don’t actually have one place to go to find an answer.

I mean how much hell would that be.

[JT] I see it all the time, unfortunately.  As you know I’m a consultant and I typically get engaged by contact centres who are struggling for a whole bunch of reasons and literally on my little checklist of things, a Knowledge Management System is always high on the priority list of recommendations.

If you want to transform your business for a relatively low cost you can go and get a knowledge management platform from say $20 to $50 a month per agent (I know it’s a broad scale!) but the point being it’s not ridiculously expensive and it can truly transform your business so I think that’s why people are slowly starting to catch on.

The more you get industry leaders like yourself talking about it and people see them in action and they go “how did we ever function without this” it becomes so central to your business.

[BS] With our Knowledge Forum we give awards out to organisations that make the biggest improvement and we had one small council who only has six customer service staff. They get a customer satisfaction survey done every six months and they had their six staff turnover in 12 months… Using livepro, they were actually able to improve their customer satisfaction scores to the point now where they are the second-highest customer satisfaction score out of that whole group – I think there are 180 organisations because the knowledge and answers are contained within their business – but can you imagine losing six key staff, that’s tough!

[JT] I think one of the challenges that we’ve seen in the industry since the year dot was high turnover and you would have seen it in your recruitment days of course. It’s still around about 40 to 45 per cent average turnover rate with half of those internal and half of them leave externally but the result is still the same for the call centre – you’ve got to replace them.

The risk as you said in those smaller centres as you know, a lot of the knowledge typically sits in staff’s heads – you know Jenny who’s been in there for 20 years knows everything and she leaves and all of a sudden everyone’s going “oh crap, I don’t know anything!”.

So you’re right, the advantage of having a knowledge management platform in your business is that you can bring new people in, people can leave, but the knowledge stays there right and you don’t lose all the IP that goes with it so its a huge advantage as you touched on.

[BS] I mentioned when you get livepro you get a name me and feed me competition.  The name me is that the staff get to name the system. Well there was a small council in Tasmania and there was a person there that knew everything and he’d been there for 35 years. He was about to retire and his name was Clive – that council called livepro Clive and six years on if you want to know something, you still ask Clive!

[JT] Have you had any names that just didn’t get past the keeper?

[BS] There was a superannuation company that was going to call it the WIFE – if you want to know something ask the wife. The acronym was Where I Find Everything but HR didn’t approve…

[JT] Earlier you touched on the CX Knowledge Forum and it’s something you’ve been doing annually for the last few years.  I know this year you had hundreds of people dialing in, a little bit different obviously doing it virtually but the forum is not all about livepro, it’s about getting CX experts in and contact centre experts in so I’d love to pick your brain for a little bit – what are some of the things that stood out from hearing from some of the best in the business?

[BS] The thing that I love and the reason for the forums is that livepro understands that the system’s only as good as the people use it and what we want to do we want to be responsible for actually developing knowledge experts everywhere. So you’re invited whether you’re a livepro user or not.

The innovative things that people are doing to deliver an answer to an agent or a customer is what I get inspired by all the time. I told you about the radiology group – that was inspiring!

I really missed it this year, we normally have our forums – one in every state because it just gives me an opportunity to go and hang out with the customers for a day and it’s so much fun for me and my team.  It was a bit of a challenge this year doing the Webex but again it worked brilliantly because the group were engaged, there was so much interaction.

We’re all a little bit over the webinars at the moment aren’t we and I thought that maybe you know ours might fall flat but it worked really well.

It all comes down to the different knowledge experts sharing the way that they’re delivering the answers through different channels and actually just using our system in an innovative way. Connecting it to telephony systems and their CRMs and all that sort of stuff so we get most of our new features from our clients and those forums are just so powerful for people and for clients to be able to say well why don’t we do it like this and why can’t you do it like that.

So I love them and they’re very helpful – the awards that we give out just recognise those people that spend their life educating the world but also improving how customers have answered delivered to them.

How COVID has forced change

[JT] With the rapid escalation of remote homework for contact centre agents,  I think in the latest industry survey about 70 per cent of contact centre agents are now actively working from home on any given day (up from about 20 per cent pre-covid) so obviously a huge transformation that I can’t see personally that’s going to change any time soon, does that help your business? My gut feel is absolutely! Now more than ever you need more of a single source of truth because people are scattered everywhere so has it been good for business Brad?

[BS] I saw some improvement, not as good as it should have been but you know business people, we always want more!

I saw a survey recently that said that 19 per cent of people’s time is spent looking for information.

Now back in the day when you’re in the office you could go out to somebody and say hey who’s got so-and-so or can somebody tell me where to find it so you can imagine what it’s like when you don’t have that now when working at home.

When the big flurry happened and everybody had to get all the technology and everything sorted out to work from home people didn’t have time to find new systems, they actually had to get themselves set up in the existing one so it’s starting now for organisations to think this is going to be a part of life for at least a while if not ever like you said.

Not everybody’s going to go back to the office and now we’re starting to get organisations realising that their current knowledge system may have worked okay it when they could turn to somebody else so they need something that’s way broader.

The big area was that livepro being customer experience knowledge, has product, process, company information and procedures in there but mostly organisations were still only using it in livepro in the contact centre but as soon as COVID happened and people had to work from home, a lot of organisations said “oh okay we better share this out with the rest of the organisation”.

We quickly adapted to that because when you’re in the contact centre you need all those analytics, you need personalised notices going out but if you’re only going to log in once every six weeks to find out an HR policy or something like,  you have a different experience so we’ve now built an intranet-style system so organisations are now using livepro in a broader area but can still answer your initial question.

Suppliers of Knowledge Management Systems 

[JT] As I mentioned we have a Business Directory where people looking for a Knowledge Management System can find a list of suppliers. You’ve had livepro listed with us for a number of years so thanks for being a part of it.

[BS] There’s got to be competition and I’m happy for everybody to be judging us against anybody that’s out on the market.  I honestly believe we have the best in the world and you know we recently won the global deal for Weight Watchers.  They’re using livepro from New York to deliver it to 16 global regions so it’s right throughout the world.

They had a look at all the systems throughout the world so the Aussies should be pretty proud we’ve got a system that that is the best in the world.

[JT] Congratulations, it’s great to see any Aussie business doing well on the global stage! The last question before we wrap things up is more broadly is around CX because there’s been a huge change with not just COVID, but I think customer experience as a whole is gaining momentum as companies are increasingly competing on customer experience.

We’ve seen stats and surveys talking about that for a long time but it’s actually starting to happen – I can go to any bank and they’ll all offer you a home loan, a credit card, a savings account etc and the interest rates are all pretty much the same so you know why am I choosing bank A over bank B is starting to come down to that customer experience.

Are you seeing that with your client base that they’re using knowledge management software primarily to improve the CX?

No doubt Brad there’s money savings if I can shave 25 per cent off your Average Handle Time that’s a huge cost saving and that might be a driver for a business full stop. And we spoke about staff engagement going up that can also be a driver, so what’s the main focus for businesses looking to implement a KMS currently?

[BS] It does go through phases. A couple of years ago it was about stuff engagement but the two big things at the moment is still staff engagement and customer satisfaction.

When the Royal Commission was out for banking and finance it was all about compliance and making sure you deliver the correct answer but we have more than 50 per cent of the prospects that are looking at livepro saying it’s not about the cost savings, it’s about how it can help them deliver a better experience for their customers.

We’ve heard a lot of companies talk about it but we are seeing a fair bit of difference now. Companies are slowly getting it and they’re realising that the way to improve CX is to arm the customer for self-serve in the right way.

10 static FAQS might be OK but then when they can’t serve themselves for whatever reason because they’re in a hurry or you know it’s a really complex issue, they want to be able to talk to an agent that sounds like they know everything and that’s why our agents that use livepro love it – because they just sound like experts.

[JT]  There’s no question when we started this episode we spoke about passion and I think the one thing we’ve learned over this podcast if people can’t hear that in your voice then they need to get a hearing check because you’re obviously very passionate about not just livepro, and as you should be because it’s a company that you’ve built, but of course also about just knowledge management in general and how empowering it is for frontline agents and customers.

I know you’re an extremely busy man so thank you for giving up a bit of time and sharing some of your wisdom – it’s always great to hear from people that are actually in the coal face and making a difference out there in our industry so keep up the awesome work.

[BS] Thank you and congratulations to you and the work that you’ve done promoting and helping contact centres improve and just promoting the contact centre industry,  it’s just remarkable! I know you weren’t expecting that but congratulations.

Special Offer

[JT]  Thank you Brad, you and I are both very proud of working in the industry and if people are still listening –  it is also worth mentioning that Brad has a good deal for you!

Contact us and we’ll give you a special code to get your first two months of livepro free – it’s a great opportunity for anyone who’s interested in going ahead and empowering their agents to give them the right answers at the right time!

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