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Contact center knowledge management gives agents clickable intel

Contact center agents are supposed to help customers with issue resolution. But that's tough when agents lack good working knowledge of products.

Contact centers are designed to guide and support customers on products and services. But agents operate at a disadvantage if they don't know the brand, the products and the language of the company in serving customers.

A lack of agent knowledge about these topics has a real dollar value: Poorly trained agents have to spend longer on the phone with customers to solve problems. Or customers may have to call back multiple times to resolve their questions. And, of course, poorly trained agents may need to be retrained -- that's if they don't leave for a new job first.

That was the challenge for Bob Madden, CEO of Plus One Communications LLC in Akron, Ohio, a contact center provider for a variety of industries, from healthcare to billing. To boot, contact centers suffer from a fair amount of employee churn (according to Dimension Data's 2013-2014 Global Contact Centre Benchmarking Report, employee turnover is nearly 30%), so getting contact center representatives trained to speak authoritatively about topics in various industries was a burden for Plus One. Madden wanted reps trained in about a month, not the three months it could take with old methods.

"One agent needs to be very versatile in a variety of topics," Madden said. "It's almost impossible to train someone in a shorter period of time with all this information," he said.

So, Madden turned to Kaybus Inc., which offers a knowledge management platform designed to consolidate accurate, up-to-date resources for agents in a highly searchable content repository, with material that can be accessed in seconds, even during an agent's call with a customer. As a result, Madden said, agents can look up the way to track a work order and the details that should be relayed to a customer about the tracking of that order -- or when a transaction might take place.

A lack of contact center agent knowledge about key topics has a real dollar value.

The information "helps our staff help customers get the information they need to make their problem go away," Madden said.

Kaybus can also update and expire outdated information. As a result, contact center agents are working with the most definitive content. In the past, Plus One used homegrown knowledge bases and decision trees, but Kaybus presents a much more accurate, searchable repository of "laser-focused" answers, Madden said.

"Knowledge management is becoming the crown jewel in the customer service crown," wrote Forrester research analyst Kate Leggett in a 2015 contact center predictions report.

According to Madden, Kaybus' knowledge automation has translated into contact center efficiencies and cost reductions. Average call time was reduced, Madden reported, by 25%, and first-call resolution, where customers had their issue resolved in just one call to the contact center, increased by 12%. For high call volume, that can translate into thousands of dollars saved, where the average cost of completing customer service by phone, according to some contact center data, is nearly $6 a call.

Madden acknowledges, though, that the company would like to connect the dots even further to determine whether Kaybus material helps agents provide a a better customer experience. He'd like more detailed analytics that can show the connection between the content an agent searches and the nature of the call with a customer: Did it result in first-call resolution, reduced call time and improved overall customer satisfaction?

"We want to understand whether Kaybus helped an agent get that good answer, or did the customer have to call back?" Madden said.

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