If you’ve ever met John Ragsdale, you’d remember him. John is an insightful, energetic analyst for the Technology Services IndustryAssociation (TSIA) and a tireless customer advocate. He is one of the most credible analysts I know. At the recent “Best Practices” TSW show, I had the opportunity to speak with John about his latest book, Lessons Unlearned: 25 Years in Customer Service. The book is a collection of observations and humorous yet insightful anecdotes from John's experiences in the industry, and simply put, is a must-read for anyone interested in learning more about customer service.
One of the most debated software categories in the customer service function, Knowledge Management (KM), is tackled in the fourth chapter of his book. According to John, “The impact of a knowledge management implementation on support technician or contact center agent productivity is wide-reaching, as many productivity metrics are linked. When evaluating the return on investment of knowledge management in terms of agent productivity, here are the key metrics to monitor: Average talk /handling time, First-contact resolution (FCR) rate, Incidents handled per shift, and Training days per year.”
Today, KM systems are used by agents as part of a standard issue resolution process.This process is typically comprised of the following steps: Entitlement, Issue Description / Validation, Information Gathering, Developing a Problem Theory,Testing the Problem Theory, Root Cause Identification, and Issue Resolution. According to Gartner, over 80 percent of the time spent on the issue resolution process is spent on problem identification. Much of this time is spent with direct customer communication, asking questions and obtaining information. Unfortunately, the manner in which KM systems are used today does not have a significant impact on this process, and therein lies the challenge.
Fortunately, the next generation of knowledge management software (NextGen KM) will dramatically reduce this “back and forth” by automatically gathering hundreds of thousands of data points about the customer’s entire IT ecosystem. In addition, these data points will be gathered over a period of time, which means that the Customer Service team will have all of this forensic information on hand before the customer ever calls with an issue. Imagine calling your ERP vendor to report an issue and after describing the problem the representative says, "I understand the issue and have all the information I need to begin my analysis. Can I call you back in twenty minutes to provide you with an update on my progress?." Now that's what I call service!
NextGen KM will include powerful analytic engines that can identify known issues and proactively take action without human intervention. Say that you've recently upgraded your ERP system to the latest release, but unbeknownst to you, the software upgrade process fails in midstream. NextGen KM proactively identifies this issue and sends you an email notification about the failed software upgrade – before you even encountered an error. Incredible.
As you can tell the topic of NextGen KM is a passion of mine. John covers it well in his book. And speaking of his book, if you ever want to know what an industry analyst actually does for a living, the answer is finally revealed in the first paragraph of Chapter 7.
If you’re interested in learning more about the NextGen KM tools that exist today, leave a comment below and I’ll be glad to point you in the right direction.