Published: June 08, 2016 | Comments
You’ve heard it before: “Knowledge is power.” “An investment in knowledge always pays the best interest.” “The only source of knowledge is experience.” These sayings may seem simplistic but they speak to a basic human desire to learn.
As much as people want to learn, they also want to help themselves. They want to learn how to do something and then be able to do it themselves. They want to easily find an answer or resolution to an issue and move on. They do not want to struggle when searching a website or have to contact a company. If you can make it easy for people to find what they are looking for, they will thank you and become repeat customers. If it isn’t easy, they may move along—and take their dollars with them.
There’s been lots of talk about the rise of “self-service” in customer service, but people have been finding information and resolving issues on their own for years. Websites provide a variety of information. IVR systems can answer some questions. Now, social media and review sites offer a wealth of experience-based information. But the expectations for self-service are higher than ever and brands must deliver outstanding customer service or suffer the consequences. Are you ready?
What self-service options does your company currently offer? Do you have a knowledgebase? It’s a “living” repository of information that is constantly updated and makes it easy for people to find what they are searching for. FAQs are one format—though knowledgebases usually include more detailed and “designed” how-to articles, as well as visual content, than a simple FAQ. Perhaps the more important question is: are you optimizing your knowledgebase for both customers and agents?
Yes, for customers and agents. A knowledgebase is useful for customers and is essential for agents to quickly find information, answer inquiries and provide top-notch customer service. Here are five easy steps to enhance your knowledgebase for improved customer service.
Expand beyond FAQs.
FAQs are a necessary—and valuable—part of any knowledgebase but there should be content in many forms. People learn best in different ways and visual information can frequently make complicated or multi-step processes easier to understand. Create tutorials, how-to articles, processes and procedures and reference documentation. Use graphics, videos, animation and other formats beyond the written word.
The information can be culled from expert internal sources, prior customer inquiries, known pain points and more. It’s important to create content that answers the most common questions and issues from customers. Remember, you want to make it easy for customers to find what they are looking for. You won’t be able to offer answers to every question—sometimes, a call or tweet about a particular issue is still necessary—but the questions agents hear the most should definitely be included. How do you make sure you’ve got those covered? Tap your agents, CRM and customer surveys to determine what those questions are and how to best answer them.
Optimize both the information and the organization.
Make it easy to find whatever your customer or agent is searching on. Think of your reader as someone who has never used your product or service before. What terms would you use to search for an answer? How would you phrase it? Consider language, search terms and phrases and synonyms. It’s not a user-friendly (or helpful) system if someone is searching for “sound is not working” when a video player is malfunctioning and the system doesn’t return results because “audio” is the only term found (and it isn’t robust enough to know that “sound” is similar to “audio.”)
It’s also important to maintain the “living” aspect of your knowledgebase. It should be regularly monitored and updated, with content additions as new questions arise. Update articles as needed (noting the date of revision) or add new ones. Focus on continuous improvement to help agents and customers. Highlight “best practices” or “lessons learned” within reference materials so people can benefit from the experiences of others. It’s important to capture all customer service interactions and pull relevant data, likely from your CRM, to ensure the information in your knowledgebase reflects current issues and resolutions. That will help both customers searching on their own and agents helping customers.
And be sure to conduct regular tests to ensure search results are easily returned. Ask friends or family members to try it too, for an outside perspective. If you run into trouble and you are a subject matter expert, your customers will certainly have challenges.
Presentation is more important than ever.
It’s been said that one picture is worth 1,000 words. In fact, people are more than 300 percent better at following directions when there is an illustration or graphic included with text than when reading text with no graphics. Photos, graphics and illustrations are invaluable when someone is trying to quickly find an answer.
Present information so that it is easy to read and understand for readers at all levels. Some experts recommend that writing should be aimed at a ninth grade reading level and there are various tools and techniques to measure that, including the Flesch-Kinkaid system. One way to make things clearer and easier to understand is to use screenshots, illustrations and graphics.
And it is very important to be descriptive—but don’t create lengthier pieces to make them seem more important or authoritative. Think about what you would want to read. Is it short and to the point? Is it detailed with lots of supporting facts? Is it entertaining? Is it business-like? Take your answers, consider your company’s communication style and fit the pieces together. Bottom line: make your information as descriptive and specific as possible. Again, remember that you are making it easy for people to find answers to their questions so they can move on to their next activity with a positive feeling about your company.
Make use of your reporting capabilities.
This may seem like a strange point to make here, but reviewing reports can show you what’s missing (what customers are searching for and can’t find) and therefore what should be added to your knowledgebase. Reports can also show the most popular topics, to help you determine if more information is needed on those topics (perhaps a video walk-through in addition to the written piece?).
Optimize for mobile platforms and all devices.
People use their mobile devices to do everything so information should be as easily searched, found and reviewed on mobile devices as on a computer. Don’t neglect the back-end formatting to make mobile searching simple and mobile viewing seamless. Navigation should also be simplified, with touch-screen usage in mind.
Your knowledgebase is likely the first place your customers turn when they need help. People will naturally try to help themselves before reaching out and asking for help. Make it simple for customers to find what they need, and make it easy for your agents to find what they need to help customers. Investments made in your knowledgebase will pay dividends in reduced customer service/support costs, improved agent morale and enhanced customer satisfaction. Knowledge really is power—and with some work to enhance your information, your company can earn the most interest on your knowledgebase investment.