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I recently read a blog from TSIA's John Ragsdale on the state of knowledge management (KM) and what is shaping it today—how are organizations using it, what corporate cultures are they operating in, and who is still trying to fully understand the significant value knowledge management brings?

While there are many factors that can shape the view of knowledge management within an organization, those who have come to truly understand its value are reaping the rewards. 

What is Knowledge Management?

Knowledge management is a discipline and a set of technologies that focus directly on helping support agents provide customers with the right answer, right away, the first time. This is important because getting it right the first time is imperative now more than ever before.

In this Age of the Customer in an increasingly digital world, the contact center is still a critical touchpoint between companies and their customers. As the expectations for more speed and personalization seem to increase almost weekly, challenges and opportunities await at every turn, such as:

  • Dealing with tons of information that changes daily, even hourly.
  • Keeping the right information up-to-date and in front of support agents.
  • Ensuring that the right information can be easily found, understood, and shared at the speed of conversation.

Knowledge management is distinct from content management, Microsoft SharePoint® or CRM in that it focuses directly on the relationship between customer inquiries and agent answers. Organizations can be lulled into thinking they have knowledge management, because they store and manage so much information already. But, that information is rarely effective for agents and customers. Knowledge management helps organizations model their content in a way that is focused on specific tasks, so it can be quickly found and used during a support interaction.

Why Knowledge Management is Important

Knowledge management tools provide fast, intuitive access to the right information across any number of sources and at a single point of inquiry. When designed well, knowledge management technology works the same way agents do, by delivering the right information at the exact moment it's needed, based on what is known about the customer.

In short, knowledge management is all about matching customers with the knowledge they need, which is what support is all about. The benefits can be compelling:

  • Faster answers, lower handle time, and better agent utilization.
  • Higher support quality and consistency, which reduces escalations and callbacks.
  • Lower customer effort, leading to more loyal and satisfied customers.
  • Efficiencies in content maintenance and management through metrics-driven processes.
  • Faster ramp-up time for new agents, lowering training and onboarding costs.
  • Reduced agent stress and turnover through effective knowledge access and use.

Remember, it's not just about your customers—it's about your employees too. Everyone wins when knowledge management becomes a core part of an organization's culture.

The current state of knowledge management is exciting. But, as the TSIA research shows, there's still plenty of work to do. Companies that have invested in both knowledge management technology and adopted its best practices are currently realizing enormous value and well positioned for future success.

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John Chmaj

About Author John Chmaj

John Chmaj has worked for over 28 years in the field of Knowledge Management for Support & Service. He is currently Senior Practice Director for KM Services at Verint. John has held KM-focused roles in many organizations including KANA, Microsoft, Lotus, Knova, Primus, and the Consortium for Service Innovation (CSI). He has worked in all phases of the customer support process, including telephone and online support, technical writing, knowledge management, applications development, and worldwide knowledge systems design. John’s primary area of interest is in the effective creation and use of support knowledge to improve the customer experience and optimize the support process.