According to the American Express Customer Service Barometer, 99% of consumers surveyed say that getting a satisfactory answer or being connected to someone knowledgeable (98%) are the most important prerequisites to a great customer experience.
It seems a simple expectation, but for many brands and organizations, it is a difficult one to fulfill as the length of time employees stay with one brand or organization continues to dwindle. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, employees ages 20 – 24 now stay with an organization just 1.1 years on average, while those ages 25 – 34 remain for just 2.7 years.
Increasingly rare is the employee who holds a wealth of corporate, product, service and customer knowledge in his or her head gained through years of training, learning and experience. In fact, our recently-published 2016 State of Knowledge Management in Customer Service Report found that one of the benefits organizations are looking to achieve from their knowledge management initiative is to preserve corporate knowledge and prevent “brain drain” by capturing the knowledge of long-time and top-performing employees before they decide to depart.
So, back to the question. Should customer service agents know all the answers? While as customers we want them to, realistically, they cannot. Leading organizations are working however to empower not just agents, but all employees, to be able to find the answers they and their customers need and quickly – as 77% of consumers say valuing their time is the most important thing a company can do to provide them with good customer service.
As web self-service has emerged as the most-used channel for customers to find the answers and information they need, the internal use of self-service knowledge is also starting to trend. Gartner Research has predicted that by 2018, the ability to rapidly create and retrieve relevant content (knowledge) will be a key attribute of leading enterprises.
Innovative brands such as Metro Bank are taking this to heart, investing early in employee self-service knowledge not just to improve and speed customer service, but to empower every employee to deliver a consistent customer experience from day one on the job. “Any question being asked, if we didn’t know the answer, we would go to Metropedia (Metro Bank’s employee self-service offering) to find the answer,” says Craig Donaldson, Metro Bank CEO.
“It means that colleagues have got confidence if they don’t know the answer, to just pop on to Metropedia and off they go, quick fast and efficiently. Technology should be used to engage people and that’s what we do at Metro Bank. It’s all about our colleagues and our customers.”
Today’s workforce is changing, from employees who knew all the answers to employees who don’t, but intuitively think to search for them online. Your agents may not know all the answers. The question is can they find them?
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According to IDC research, 44% of the time, employees can’t find the information they’re looking for, and more than 60% have to search across four or more systems when looking (13% across 11 or more systems). No matter how personalized each interaction, service is doomed in customer satisfaction and first contact resolution ratings – and the organization in customer experience ratings – if employees can’t surface and deliver consistent answers and information quickly.
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