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Sharing Is Caring: How Knowledge Builds Stronger and Better Teams

In every contact center, in every team, regardless of the interaction touchpoints, there's an impressive amount of information flowing between the frontline employees and the customers.

How do they know all that? How come some of the operators/agents are more at ease with complex issues, whilst others struggle to pick up the phone or accept a new chat?

There are many reasons to explain these differences, but in the end it all comes down to how well prepared these agents are to handle customers’ conversations. And it's more than preparing them in the initial training sessions. It goes beyond the notes they take during onboarding, in the effort to structure the amount of information that keeps coming hour after hour, day after day, sometimes week after week in their respective induction programs.

Beyond all these initial learnings, it comes down to this: where do they find the right information, at the right time, exactly when the customer asks the question? What if information isn't there? What if some agents have the information, while others don't?

Transforming tacit knowledge into explicit knowledge is of paramount importance in a contact center environment. The knowledge accumulated by some people through self-learning, exploration, and experience is one critical asset of the team. But it's very often overlooked. By converting tacit into explicit knowledge, it becomes accessible and shareable, enabling collaboration, learning, and continuous improvement within the contact center teams. Too often though, this knowledge remains locked within the minds of individual operators/agents. And if not transformed into explicit knowledge, it's lost when employees leave the department or even the company.

On the other hand, explicit knowledge is formalized, documented, and can be easily communicated and shared between employees. It can look like standard operating procedures, guidelines, procedures, processes, manuals, training materials. It creates collective knowledge, providing employees with a foundation to build upon and enabling them to provide consistent and high-quality customer service.

There are different ways to transform tacit into explicit knowledge; you should start by encouraging employees to create knowledge articles, recognizing their efforts to take the necessary time and share their insights.

Don't get too critical of the content they shared, as this will spread as a huge inhibitor, stopping other colleagues, especially the shy ones, from sharing. Perform quality checks, adapt and correct if needed, but avoid criticism, especially if you are at the beginning of the journey. Everything is about recognizing the need to share. Structuring the article and embedding the right knowledge in the right documents can be taken over by team leaders or quality managers.

Another way to encourage knowledge sharing is to invite these knowledge-sharing champions to onboarding meetings, allowing them to conduct interactive sessions where they share experiences, demonstrate effective call-handling, and provide feedback to new colleagues. The culture of knowledge-sharing is built from the onboarding stage, by recognizing and acknowledging the efforts of colleagues that do that every day.

Promote and reward employees for their contribution to the collective knowledge base. Technology is a great enabler of seamless customer experiences. But even the best-of-the-best knowledge management system works with explicit knowledge, not with knowledge that's locked in people’s minds.

And all of the above go way beyond day-to-day customer conversations with frontline employees. The same tactics and approaches should also be applied for management support functions. The type of knowledge is different, the audience might be different, but in the end it all goes back to the same benefits: colleagues can adopt the same methods and apply the same knowledge, reducing effort and improving efficiency/increased productivity.

To conclude, fostering a culture of knowledge sharing within the contact center leads to enhanced customer service, consistent and superior customer experiences, increased productivity, and a more engaged workforce. But it's not a one-time effort. It must be consciously nurtured, day by day, by living and breathing the value of sharing information to help others.

Topics: Best Practices, Knowledge Management, Coaching And Quality Management