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Why The Right Answer In Customer Service Means Everything

 
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Why The Right Answer In Customer Service Means Everything
by System Administrator - Monday, 16 February 2015, 4:22 PM
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Why The Right Answer In Customer Service Means Everything

by Tricia Morris

Ever received the wrong answer or information from a customer service agent and had to call back? Ever received different answers from different people or different support channels? Ever been to a business or organization’s support portal and not been able to find the answer to the simplest question, or get access to any information at all? Ever had to wait hours, days or weeks for the information you need right now? Then you know why the right answer in customer service means everything.

Knowledge management in customer service may not be the newest or most exciting topic in customer service, but here are five reasons why it really matters:

  • 1. First Contact Resolution. While valuing the customer’s time is important, if you provide the wrong or an incomplete answer, it usually results in another customer interaction and customer frustration. In the most recent American Express Global Customer Service Barometer, 98 percent of those surveyed said that getting a satisfactory answer or being connected to a knowledgeable representative are keys to a great customer experience.
  • 2. Employee Engagement. According to research from ThinkJar Principal and Founder, Esteban Kolsky, 20 percent of a service agent’s time each day is spent searching for information. In a recent white paper, Kolsky notes, “when agents have the right access to the right information, they will more happily answer the interactions fast and effectively; happy employees don’t churn.”
  • 3. Consistency of Information. On the same note, especially for businesses and organizations operating at scale, it is vital that customers are getting not just the right answers, but consistent answers and information across agents, locations and channels. The use of an internal knowledgebase can be helpful in this regard, and even more so if the customer service information in the internal knowledgebase is mirrored and delivered to the customer through a business or organization’s self-service portal and other channels.
  • 4. Self-Service Deflection. In her recent blog, Customer Service Channel Usage Highlights The Importance Of Good Self-Service, Forrester Research analyst Kate Leggett notes that for the first time in the history of Forrester’s customer service channel usage survey, respondents are using the self-service FAQ pages on a company’s website more often than speaking with an agent on the phone. According to the survey, Self-service channel usage has increased from 67% in 2012 to 76% in 2014, with phone usage has remained the same at 73 percent. Providing the right answer at the customer’s right time on your brand’s website/support portal not only deflects a great number of repetitive or easy-answer questions from high-cost, high-interaction channels such as phone and email, but also has a significant effect on the next topic.
  • 5. Customer Satisfaction. As noted above, customers say that getting the right answer is key to a great customer experience. Customer expectations for both timely and correct answers are increasing. Notes Esteban Kolsky in the white paper referenced above, “Not having access to the right information is the most critical time-waste of preparing any answer for a customer. If the information is not available quickly, it is nearly impossible to deliver against expectations – using knowledge management appropriately to fulfill the need for the right information leads to meeting expectations.”

Knowledge of the Future

In a 2015 Customer Service Trends to Watch eBook, Kolsky notes that brands and organizations need to make a bigger investment in providing customers with the right answer, and while knowledge management is not new, it continues to change, and organizations need to stay on top of this. In an excerpt from the eBook:

According to my research in the past year, a stored answer decays quite rapidly to become obsolete anywhere between a few days and a few months in the case of more than two-thirds of new knowledge created.

Indeed, knowledge in storage (that which is created, put into a knowledge base, and later – hopefully – found) is the old model; knowledge in use (leveraging subject matter experts, communities and social networks for knowledge generation and maintenance) is becoming the go-to solution for KM going forward. Communities, social networks and private networks for subject matter experts are the “infrastructure” that supports this, and agents need interfaces to leverage them.

We will see initial investments in this area in 2015 from a small number (less than 15 percent) of organizations, but it will be the early adopters that will begin to show the way. These case studies, and lessons learned, will yield to mainstream (more than 30 percent of organizations) adoption in 2017, and adoption will continue to grow at a 10 – 15% rate for the next two to three years until it becomes commonplace.

This is not a prediction; this is my understanding and analysis of a trend that matters.”

Tricia promotes Microsoft Parature's focus on customer service tips and trends for major industries including government, tech, higher education, software, gaming, retail and more through Parature's customer service blog. Parature, the leader in on-demand customer service software, makes it possible for any business to leverage the Internet and social... View full profile ›

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