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  • Damien Popote

When to reinvent customer service around knowledge?

In the era of omnichannel and data-driven strategies, customer service is being reinvented. Present at every stage of the buying journey, it is strategic to ensure an optimal customer experience and therefore continued growth. What if reinventing yourself around customer and business insight was the next step in growth for organisations?

Customer service: present before, during and after the purchase

Customer service is often equated with after-sales service when in fact it covers the entire life cycle of the customer journey. It is defined as "all the human or technological resources made available to the customer, before, during and after the sale". Fundamentally, although it is often seen as a cost centre, responsible for dealing with problems and getting rid of them, customer service is an opportunity for companies.

It provides a quality customer experience from start to finish so that satisfied customers will repeat their purchases and remain loyal to the company or brand. But for dissatisfied customers, customer service can also be a positive surprise and therefore a game changer. According to Gartner, by 2025, 40% of customer services will become profit centres by becoming central to digital customer engagement*. Although ergonomics and usability are seen as key components of the customer experience, a large part of it is also and above all based on the quality of the service.

Omnichannelity has taken hold

With the evolution of digital uses and the emergence of social networks, the ways in which users interact with the company have multiplied: telephone, email, chat, social networks, WhatsApp, etc. Faced with this complexity, the arrival on the market of unified CRM or helpdesk solutions has enabled customer services to interact with customers in an omnichannel and centralised manner, i.e. on a single platform.

However, a major problem remains: responding to the customer quickly and without compromising the quality and relevance of the response. This is a major challenge that is far from being solved for many companies that are still looking for solutions to improve their first contact resolution rate. This indicator measures the proportion of support requests resolved on the first contact, without the need for a call back from the customer.

The first contact resolution rate is especially critical as this is where the financial loss lies for many companies. Indeed, dealing again with a customer who has already been through their service and remains dissatisfied can lead to the loss of the latter, the famous "churn". There is still a lot of room for improvement in terms of processing time and response quality, the ultimate goal of customer service. A Gartner study highlights the fact that unifying customer-related information within a single platform helps to fuel innovation**.

Reinventing customer service around knowledge

Although knowledge is created in compartments, it is nevertheless present within the company, but it remains scattered: FAQ, intranet, wikis, SharePoints, etc. It is therefore difficult to mobilise and exploit. Better management of knowledge consists of centralising the dispersed knowledge, harmonising it so that it is intuitive and easy to use, but also distributing it intelligently, i.e. in the right place and at the right time, in the advisor's space or in the form of suggestions generated by AI.

For example, a customer contacts the FNAC Darty after-sales service because his washing machine is making noise. On the phone, the technician must perform a diagnosis, via a decision tree, to understand the precise context encountered by the customer: brand, model, year, reference, type of noise, etc.

By having the knowledge related to products and procedures centrally available, and in the right format, an immediate search allows him to access the product sheet and the process, step by step, with all possible symptoms. The diagnosis time is then reduced from several minutes to a few seconds, to the delight of both the customer and the advisor!

Knowledge: the new grail of customer service

Another example is banking, insurance, travel/tourism or e-commerce products. In these sectors, knowledge about procedures and products is not only vast and varied, but it is also constantly evolving. For these companies, which have to maintain a high level of customer satisfaction, delivering a quick and quality response is vital. They, therefore, have a strong need to optimise their knowledge management in order to capitalise on it.

To do this, they must understand how closely the customer experience is linked to the employee experience. In addition to the speed and quality of the response, by making knowledge accessible, the advisor works more comfortably, with increased well-being... and more serene and competent customer service always generates significant customer satisfaction.

Latest generation tools

To meet this challenge, companies need to equip themselves with a knowledge management platform that can manage the entire life cycle of knowledge, and thus create a single source of truth, from content creation, verification, dissemination and suggestion, to improvement if necessary. It is a virtuous loop whose objective is to have the right knowledge, in the right place and at the right time. This platform feeds all the channels, making the knowledge accessible to the advisor, who in turn distributes it to the customer, wherever the latter interacts with the company: chatbot, voice bots, emails, etc.

With knowledge centralised and intuitively accessible, customer service is much more available, providing quick and qualitative answers for an optimal customer experience. In addition, this approach encourages the development of advisors' skills, creating a beneficial work environment and reducing turnover. By reinventing themselves in this direction, companies are moving from the contact era to the knowledge era.

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