Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Use Knowledge Management to Increase CRM Value

Today's post focuses on how knowledge management adds an essential layer of value to customer facing systems, which ultimately drives improved customer experiences.

Two sweeping trends have emerged in recent years: the proliferation of customer channels and the resulting explosion in the amount of data produced. 

Customer relationship management has done a great job of providing a strong framework for these multi-channel interactions. Knowledge management (KM) has done an equally remarkable job by providing the brains behind the increasingly diverse network of customer contact points.

With the explosion of data from many different types of sources in the past several years, the tight integration of KM and CRM systems has become even more essential to offering customers and the agents who serve them the concise and timely information they need.

KM and CRM have a long history of ultimately serving the same goals of quickly and efficiently providing customers with information, whether it is through Web self-service, a call center agent, kiosk or mobile application.

CRM and KM Synergy

CRM applications are systems of record that manage customer data. Knowledge Management (KM) systems, in the context of customer engagement, enable businesses to systematically capture knowledge from subject matter experts within the enterprise, and social knowledge from online communities, social networks, partners, etc. for use by customer-facing organizations and end-customers.

When integrated, KM helps expand the business value of CRM, delivering transformational benefits in enhanced customer experiences, contact center productivity, and improved customer acquisition, among other things. KM systems are also able to leverage existing content management systems by adding a layer of findability and know-how for content-enabled process automation.

How it Works

There are many use cases of how CRM and KM work in tandem to deliver business value. A common one is in the customer contact center where knowledge solution is often used in conjunction with CRM.

When customers call, agents use a CRM to open a case, enter the problem description, and click on a “solve” button. This, in turn, invokes a resolution path, for example, a set of search paths to find the right answer or next steps. Agents get to the resolution using the path of their choice, “accept” the resolution, communicate it to the customer, and close the case. The interaction, including the path to the answer and the knowledge base article that was used to solve the problem or sell a product, is recorded in both the CRM and KM systems.

Business Value

Many companies worldwide leverage the combined power of knowledge and CRM to drive business value. Adopting best practices can help make the business case, implement knowledge, and manage it for sustained business value. Here are some examples:
  • Premier home appliance manufacturer: $50M in savings by eliminating unwarranted truck rolls through knowledge-powered resolution processes in the contact center and website.
  • Semiconductor giant: 59% increase in web self-service adoption, 30% increase in First Contact Resolution.
  • Global knowledge and legal services solutions provider: 70% deflection of calls and emails through knowledge-powered self-service, 30% reduction in content authoring time.
  • Leading telco provider: 42% reduction in unwarranted handset returns through knowledge-powered resolution process in the contact center.
  • Global bank: 88% reduction in agent training time and 70% increase in productivity through knowledge-powered account opening process in small business sector.
Quantify Value

Assessing expected and realized ROI before and after the deployment would help you to justify the initial investment as well as continuous improvement of the CRM - KM solution. Make sure the ROI metrics you use are aligned with business objectives. For instance, if your main business goal is to increase sales, reduction in average handle time will be a conflicting metric. As you assess ROI, keep in mind that KM delivers ROI across a broad range of business problems. Some examples are:
  • deflection of requests for agent-assisted service through effective self-service;
  • increase in first contact resolution and sales conversion;
  • reduction in escalations, transfers, repeat calls, and average handle times;
  • reduction in training time, unwarranted product returns, field visits, and staff wage premiums.
Start with Depth

Unfocused deployments almost always result in a shallow knowledge base that is full of gaps. If agents and customers can’t find answers, or receive inadequate or wrong information, they simply stop using the system. Focus first on depth rather than breadth. Start with common questions on common products or lines of business and expand out over time.

Knowledge-Centered Support (KCS)

Best practice frameworks have emerged over time in knowledge management. For example, the Knowledge-Centered Support (KCS) framework is a comprehensive methodology that helps to improve speed of resolution, optimize resources, and foster organizational learning. Adopting frameworks like KCS is a win-win-win for customers, contact center agents, and the organization alike. Implement the best practices in knowledge-centered customer support.

Maximize Findability

Users prefer different ways of searching for information, just as drivers prefer different ways of reaching their destination. A GPS-style approach with multiple options to find information dramatically improves knowledge base adoption. For example, new agents may find it difficult to wade through hundreds of keyword search results, but might fare better if they are guided through a step-by-step dialog, powered by technologies like Case-Based Reasoning (CBR).

Multiple search options such as FAQ, keyword and natural language search, topic-tree browsing, and guided help enable a broad range of users to quickly and easily find information. Make sure you leverage a unified multi-channel knowledge platform for consistent answers across customer touchpoints.

Implementing these best practices, while making sure that the KM and CRM solutions are tightly integrated, will help you deliver transformational customer service experience while generating breakthrough value for the business!

Galaxy Consulting has 16 years experience in this area. We can help you to integrate your knowledge base with your CRM. Contact us today for a free consultation!

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