|Source: Wikimedia, Integrationrocks|
Today’s customer service requirements are getting ever more complicated for businesses. Customers encountering problems increasingly rely on self-help. Customers may start looking for solutions by searching on Google, on community sites, or inside a mobile app. A logical starting point depends on the device and application, as well as personal preferences.
The bottom line is: customers want to get to their solution as quickly and easily as possible, and they do not want to change their habits and preferences in order to reach support.
Many companies run several customer service applications that support different channels, each with a separate knowledge base (KB) subsystem. These may include a support application for an ecommerce site, some general help pages on the company web site, and FAQs on a mobile application.
For internal purposes, there might even be an Enterprise Content Management (ECM) system with information for contact agents to use but that are not published externally.
Of course the normal situation for a service agent is to work on more than one channel. This means that depending on the nature of the inquiry, agents need to use and update multiple knowledge bases. This results in additional, redundant work and information. Furthermore, information gets easily out of sync—resulting in confusion.
Similarly, customers need to navigate through different knowledge bases and FAQs.
Apart from being highly inefficient and ineffective, this has an impact on both employee satisfaction and customer satisfaction. It leads to frustration because customers who do not find their solution need to relay the same information multiple times, and they could be put on hold while the agents research different databases, or are transferred to other agents ad nauseam.
Welcome in CustServ Hell!
The solution to this particular problem could be very simple.
Many companies do not only have a main CRM system that holds their compiled user information, but also a knowledge base system that is attached or connected to it. Every CRM system that is worth its weight in gold has an integrated one. Many larger companies also have a more powerful Enterprise Content Management (ECM) system.
As a best of breed vendor, Helpshift has its own specialized knowledge base as part of its SDK. This knowledge base is entirely accessible through the mobile app, which is part of its core strength. It contributes to a seamless in-app experience.
When used in concert with an ECM, both subsystems can remove the friction and frustrations mentioned above. The secret lies in connecting the two knowledge bases so that they work as one.
There are three basic ways to achieve this.
1. Merging the user interfaces and providing an enterprise search tool
2. Knowledge base (KB) replication, e.g. via a middleware or via direct mutual updates
3. Embedding the best-of-breed KB (like Helpshift) into the leading ECM system (like Salesforce)
This integration approach leaves the two systems separate. It, however, also alleviates the pain for both agents and customers when trying to find solutions to issues. Depending on the depth of the integration, agents may still need to work with the different systems.
KB replication with the selection of a ‘golden record’ allows the agents to work in one master system. The ‘golden record’ typically resides in the ECM system.
Editing content or creating new content is still is possible within the satellite system, as changes are replicated between the systems. Some more advanced features, like a device type specifically mapping to a KB hierarchy, might still be necessary in the ‘slave’ system.
The ‘golden way’ for a best-of-breed or specialty system is to embed itself into the fabric of selected master systems. This way there is virtually only one KB that exhibits the best of both worlds, for customers and service agents alike.
This way processes get improved, employee and customer satisfaction go up, and your company is one step closer to CustServ Heaven.