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Article : The New Knowledge Management Required for Customer Service in the COVID Era

#contactcenterworld, @egain

Author: Anand Subramaniam, SVP Marketing, eGain Corporation

"Due to overwhelming demand for service, we are not able to take your call."

"Our wait times for customer service may be longer than usual due to COVID-19."

These caveats are typical of what you get these days on business websites and IVRs, even as the pandemic shows signs of plateauing.

COVID-19 has triggered a tsunami of demand for customer service. A flood of questions about payment deferrals, paycheck protection programs, COVID-19 infection, stay-at-home directives, shipment status, and more, are overwhelming contact centers, which are struggling to keep up. For example, I called a retailer’s customer service , and was pushed to voicemail. I left a message, but never heard back. I then sent an email to them. Same result! No wonder customers are getting frustrated with many switching to competitors, something businesses can ill-afford at this time of economic uncertainty.

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FAQs and legacy "knowledge management" don’t cut it anymore

COVID-19 questions come in all "shapes and sizes". They fall into three main types: Informational, transactional, and situational. Here are some examples.

  • Informational query
    • Is the stimulus check eligibility based on my income in 2019 or 2018?
    • Is there a size restriction for my business to qualify for PPP (Payroll Protection Program)?
  • Transactional query
    • How do I apply for mortgage refinancing and get approved online without having to visit a branch?
    • How do I change the beneficiary to a trust in my account?
  • Situational query (these are queries that entail problem resolution, purchase advice, etc.)
    • Should I refinance my home loan, given my profile, financial situation, and the new income tax laws on deducting mortgage interest?
    • I live in XX county in YY state. I had some COVID symptoms and have been self-isolating for two weeks. The symptoms are still there. What should I do next?

Many websites have FAQs or basic keyword search that put the burden on the consumer to read reams of documents or process hundreds of search results to find answers for themselves. Others have deployed chatbots that can "meet and greet" but get stumped even at the slightest hint of complexity in the customer query. The result? More angry calls to add to the tsunami.

Moreover, customer service agents have been dislocated due to stay-at-home orders and offshore contact center shutdowns. These lockdowns, coupled with the fear of infection, have led to agent absenteeism, forcing many companies to take an all hands on deck approach to meet the demand for service, pulling employees from other departments as well as gig agents to pick up the slack. And these employees, real and virtual, are not as familiar with company policies, processes, and service knowhow. The result? More customer frustration and defection.

COVID calls for a new kind of KM

To be able to handle the range of queries in the pandemic era and beyond, businesses need a new kind of KM, not FAQs, basic keyword search, clueless chatbots, and document repositories. The new KM needs to be able to do the following:

  • Guide the search
  • Guide the conversation
  • Centralize and publish
  • Integrate and embed

 

  1. Guide the search

While plain keyword search has been improving to some degree, it puts the onus on the knowledge consumer to process hundreds of "hits" to find literal matches, which may or may not answer the question. Moreover, knowledge authors need to anticipate how a user might phrase the question (recently, Machine Learning (ML) has helped modern KM systems better understand user intent). More complex searches may call for a conversation with the customer to home in on the search intent and serve up the answer. Infused with AI reasoning, KM can help guide such searches.

  1. Guide the conversation

Complex questions require a dialog to be carried out, whether it is with a self-service system or with a human agent or sales rep or a frontline healthcare worker. The best domain experts know what question to ask and what step to take next. Also, government regulations dictate conversations and actions for compliance.

This conversational expertise and regulatory steps can be captured into a next-gen KM system in the form of rules and AI reasoning, and can be served to the customer directly through self-service systems (automation) or through agents in a human-assisted scenario (augmentation). Unlike brittle scripts and decision trees, reasoning enables adaptive conversations that avoid cul-de-sacs and dead ends in the dialog.

  1. Centralize and publish "everywhere"

One of the challenges of COVID times has been the rapid change of information, whether regarding the disease, government relief programs, stay-at-home directives, or business policies. Businesses are struggling to publish this information to employees and consumers in a quick and consistent way. The answer lies in an omnichannel KM system with a single-sourced content publishing capability to disseminate information to customer service channels, tailored to those touchpoints.

  1. Integrate with or embed in systems of record

Customer-facing employees often use systems of record such as CRM to get a transactional view of the customer—who they are, what products they have bought, when they bought them. These tools lack modern KM capabilities. Many enterprises have, therefore, embedded next-gen knowledge capabilities into these systems or added an engagement layer to them to bring together context from multiple systems of record to inform knowledge search and guidance. For this bimodal model to work, the KM system needs to have an open architecture for easy embedding or integration with systems of record.

We all know the saying that in every crisis lies a great opportunity. COVID-19 has presented an opportunity to elevate customer service with next-gen KM and leave competitors in the dust.

#contactcenterworld, @egain


About Anand Subramaniam:
Anand Subramaniam is SVP of Marketing for eGain. Prior to eGain, Anand served as an executive in corporate and product marketing, as well as product management and pre-sales roles at companies such as Oracle, Intel and Autodesk as well as startups.

About eGain Corporation:
Company LogoeGain customer engagement platform automates digital-first, omnichannel experiences across all touch points. Powered by AI, machine learning, knowledge, and analytics, our top-rated software optimizes customer journeys with virtual assistance, messaging hub, and desktop to serve customers, reduce cost, and improve compliance.
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Today's Tip of the Day - Listen

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Published: Friday, May 29, 2020

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2021 Buyers Guide Consultancies

 
1.) 
Call Center Masters

Giving consulting services to call centers

2.) 
CC-CMM Certification Institute

CC-CMM Certification

3.) 
COPC

Service Journey Thinking
Service Journey Thinking is a comprehensive approach for improving the experience customers have along the service journey. It considers the service journey not only from the customer’s perspective, but it also examines the components that support the experience, including people, technology, processes and policies. By applying Service Journey Thinking, COPC Inc. helps brands promote greater efficiency, improved performance and reduced cost within their operations. For customers, this means reduced effort, improved satisfaction and enhanced loyalty.

4.) 
CTCOMM

Genesys PureConnect
Call Centers, Contact Centers and Cloud Solutions Consultancies

5.) 
Customer Support Asia

Offshoring
Customer Support Asia assures the success of service offshoring initiatives in the Philippines. Our consultancy serves both:
- clients that have service partners in the Philippines, and need to implement a major service initiative (performance/CX improvement, service change, site expansion, etc); and
- clients that desire to outsource services to the Philippines for the first time, and need expert help to qualify an an "ideal fit" partner, and manage an end-to-end service transition

We support both contact center services and "back office" BPO projects, limiting our practice to sites in the Philippines

6.) 
CX Central

Contact Centre Specialist Consulting
CX Consult provides specialist contact centre consulting with decades of experience across Australia and Asia/Pacific lead by industry expert Justin Tippett. Services include health checks, optimisation, outsourcing (local and offshore), technology upgrades, strategy and more.

Whether you have a 5 seat contact centre or a large multi-site operation we'll provide you with expert advice to ensure you can achieve your business objectives.

7.) 
ERIC YOUNG ASSOCIATES (Tele-Centre Assist Inc.)

Contact Center Consulting & Profit Improvement (Lean Six Sigma), Inside Sales, Efficiencies, Call Center Audit, Technology & vendor selection, Telephony, Recruiting, Training, Performance Management, Customer Journey Mapping, Software (CRM) Implementations

8.) 
Lieber & Associates

Contact Center Consulting
Lieber & Associates assists organizations with contact center issues.This includes management, processes, training, and technology. The firm's assessments evaluate and make recommendations for 15 call center areas ranging from call seasonalities to staffing to better use of the telephone systems. Contact center technology services range from new technology selection and implementation to problem-solving and optimization to technical trouble-shooting. Senior consultants have more than 20 years of experience each and are leaders in their discipline. Clients span most business sectors.

9.) 
Mpathy Plus

Mpathy Plus transform service, improve performance and provide operational support. We work in all areas of customer service and contact centres from initial strategy, feasibility studies, business cases, project management through to operational reviews, resource planning etc. We are independent and have vast experience of implementing, managing and changing contact centres and the customer experience.

10.) 
Outsourcing Solutions Europe

Outsourcing Solutions Europe is an advisory firm that helps companies to find the right contact center/BPO partner to serve European customers

11.) 
PCA Advisors Ltd

Contact Center Sales - growth and marketing strategies
I work with contact centers to position their companies to take advantage of opportunities that exist for them. We also work with their existing sales team to improve their communication and hunting skills. 'Growth' is our greatest ability.

12.) 
Pelorus Associates

Marketing Communications
Pelorus Associates is a market research and marketing communications company that assists developers of contact center solutions by providing in-depth market research and by authoring white papers, e-books, and blog posts.

13.) 
proceo.consulting

We can help You boost Your business results by:

- Building or developing high performing multi-channel customer care operations

- Improving metrics like Customer Satisfaction, Net Promoter Score (NPS), Customer Effort Score (CES), First Contact Resolution (FCR), Customer Retention rate, Inbound conversions

- Developing Your teams' skills to excel front and back-office operations and Customer relations

- Preparing and executing efficient Voice of the Customer and Customer Advocacy approach

- We will help You manage challenges and risks when changes affect people, operations and technology.

14.) 
Vads

PT VADS Indonesia provides consultancies with trainers, modules, a development programs for individuals and/or teams. Types of consultancies provided by PT VADS: Knowledge Process, Transformation Consultancy, Customer Services, Contact Center, Leadership, Interpersonal Development, Motivation, Training for Trainers and Digital Marketing.

15.) 
SCC Services Group

Contact Center Operations Performance Management
In today’s competitive business environment, contact center and marketing professionals are constantly challenged to manage a growing business, achieve superior performance levels and at times are asked to support services and products that are becoming more complex.

Faced with this reality, the consulting disciplines that SCC Services Group focuses on are operations management and service delivery excellence in the customer service, contact center and brand marketing arenas.

Our consulting practice puts emphasis on:

- Contact Center Operational Assessments
- Human Capital Management
- Organizational Structure
- Brand Marketing
- Strategic Planning
- Sales and Customer Care Tra...
(read more)

16.) 
The Taylor Reach Group

Established in 2003, The Taylor Reach Group is an award winning, call, contact centre and customer experience consulting and advisory firm. The company is based in Toronto and has offices in New York, Atlanta, Washington, Ottawa, London, Bangalore, Hong Kong and Beijing. We are vendor agnostic and do not partner with technology or outsource agencies. The only one who pays us are our clients. Each of our consultants possess a minimum of 20 years of ‘hands-on’ call/contact center operational management experience. We do not sell the pyramid, the seasoned experts you deal with through the sales process are the same people who will complete your project.
Taylor Reach has worked with contact cen...
(read more)

17.) 
Triad Services

Services Triad is a consulting firm with experience in the field of customer relations. He will celebrate his 25th professional anniversary in 2021. His facilitation skills and creativity allow him to work on many transformations related to the operational management challenges of customer contact centers.
With the support of his consulting team, he collaborates to many projects in Canada and abroad for public and private sector organizations. More than 275 consulting assignments and 150 benchmarking studies are part of his curriculum.
 

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