Guest Post: Using Knowledge Centered Service to Transform the Customer Experience

April 7, 2021

Welcome back to our “Customer Service Heroes” series, where we invite inspiring customer service leaders to share their advice for running successful teams. Claudia Belardo is the Vice President of Customer Services Experience at global enterprise software company IFS, where she’s united the organization’s customer experience, customer support, and employee experience disciplines for the first time.

Claudia’s background in technical support and customer success has empowered her to problem-solve the challenges of CX for international organizations for more than two decades. With multilingualism instilled in her household as well as her career, Claudia offers a unique perspective on how support organizations can efficiently serve their customers across geographies and native languages.

The pandemic has reenergized customer experience (CX) initiatives across the board. Consumers are more likely to shop — and organizations are more likely to hire — across geographical borders.

In this transformational time for customer success, I’m focused on solidifying knowledge as both a key goal and a success metric for international organizations.

Creating a successful CX ecosystem demands a holistic understanding of the customer success lifecycle. This requires that we go beyond the customer journey map, lining up moments of truth with triggers that are authentic to each stage of that journey. Traditional customer-centric metrics like net promoter score (NPS) and customer satisfaction (CSAT) remain important, but at IFS, our north star is now centered upon knowledge.

Our fixation on knowledge-centered service (KCS) helps us capture knowledge as a byproduct of the customer support workflow, creating a linear path between CX and the goal of making support more efficient for both the customer and the organization.

Activating KCS requires a massive cultural shift, but it’s become foundational to scaling international customer support for our company.

Knowledge is a Key Driver of Satisfaction

I’ve paid attention to what customers tell us they want. They don’t want to be transferred to several different resources, repeating their issue until they (hopefully) find a resolution. Instead,  by enabling KCS at IFS, we’re able to deliver on the modern customer’s ideal journey: finding a resolution in their moment of need and empowering them to self-serve when possible.

Not only is knowledge-centered service preferable to the customer, but it’s also more efficient for the organization’s bottom line. I’ve seen this approach reposition customer support to a value-driver rather than a cost center.

To put it simply, knowledge-as-a-service (KAAS) is about consistently connecting the right people to the right information at the right time. 

The ability to capitalize on this resource of knowledge is useful across the organization. KCS can be used anywhere customers are encountering a problem that requires an expert solution. Our goal is to create a workflow that captures an interaction, a question from a customer from the first time we see it, so that it can be curated into reusable knowledge that evolves as part of the larger IFS content continuum. This way, knowledge becomes part of the data driven enterprise ecosystem. This approach makes processes ranging from customer support and success to HR more efficient whilst also providing insightful data to help R&D prioritize product development.

Enabling Multilingual Knowledge-Centered Service (KCS)

In my experience with KCS, language is too often an afterthought. Multilingual capabilities are key to capitalizing on the potential efficiencies of this process.

With effective content standards and governance in place, enhancing KCS to support a multilingual environment allows you to have faster, better and more relevant content reach to the audiences that need it. This also eliminates potential duplicated work across the same or similar support tickets, and empowers the creation of a searchable database for agents and customers — regardless of your organization’s core language.

Multilingual capabilities should be built into the process: Starting from when the case has been conducted, in-language knowledge should be curated and published without the need to additional translation.

The alternative to building multilingual capabilities into the knowledge-as-a-service process is antithetical to the process itself. You can easily see how sending files to a translation service at the end of each month, for example, disrupts the benefits of this system. The moment when that translation potentially had the most benefit has passed. That experience, event or customer case lost to history.

Doing Right by Your Customer Experience

KCS isn’t necessarily novel; the approach has been adopted by industry leaders like Salesforce and Microsoft. But that doesn’t necessarily mean that organizations are doing it right, and few have been able to leverage the KCS methodology to effectively enable Knowledge-as-a-Service (KAAS) to the point that it can be positioned to customers.

Finding success with KCS to the point of knowledge-as-a-service requires that the process be fast-moving enough to eliminate the bottlenecks that can happen when experts and agents are a limited resource, and accurate and agile enough to continue to evolve as your service requires.

As you reach critical mass in your knowledge base with content that addresses known issues, your customers will self-serve with that knowledge effectively, which improves customer satisfaction (since nobody ever wanted to call a Helpdesk) and reduces cases overall. This enables you to then inject KAAS into your customer value proposition since, at this point, the more complex, unknown, unseen issues can adequately be serviced through the most expensive and expert resource — such as the agent — who will have more time to focus on exploring ‘exceptional’ problems with a customer. 

Incorporating the KCS methodology shouldn’t call for massive shifts in the organization’s support stack. Instead, this cultural shift should add value to existing tools such as knowledge bases and case-logging software. 

Configuring your platform to become compatible with this workflow will allow you to solve customer issues, while building the knowledge resources at the same time. In the end, these changes create something we’re all seeking: more efficient support and faster customer time-to-value, which deliver a better customer experience.

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