Companies operating in the business-to-business space must achieve excellence in a number of areas to ensure their customer support is exemplary. From effective tools to the ability to integrate easily with clients' software and business models, B2B customer support is far more complex than business-to-consumer (B2C).
One of the defining characteristics of a company that provides excellent customer service to clients is knowledge management. To understand knowledge management and its importance, it helps to look toward a definition of the term introduced in 1994 that is still widely used today. According to Thomas Davenport, a leading expert in the field of customer support, "knowledge management is the process of capturing, distributing, and effectively using knowledge."
Organizations that effectively employ knowledge management and integrate it into their customer support strategy are better equipped to create a positive customer experience.
Empowering staff and customers
Empowerment is a key component of a strong knowledge management framework that applies to customer support teams as well as customers. On the one hand, an effective knowledge management strategy gives customer service staff the information they need to to provide excellent support to clients that pays off in the long run. In fact, research from Gartner underscores this truth:
- By improving the availability of contextual knowledge to employees and customers, organizations can reduce the time it takes to resolve a problem by 20 to 80 percent.
- CIOs have the potential to lower customer support costs by 25 percent or more through knowledge management.
- Companies that use knowledge management to bolster marketing and sales efforts can effectively build client satisfaction and trust.
"Companies that use knowledge management can effectively build client satisfaction."
A good customer service tool will offer a number of features that make this possible, including an internal Knowledge Base that features automated tools for easy updates, sharing, and access. Rather than starting from scratch support reps can search the knowledge base and find solutions that have already been discovered. Wikis are another way to share learned solutions and pertinent information about a product or feature within and among teams. This translates to happier clients, because when they pick up the phone, log in to automated chat, or send an email to a support team, they receive help from an informed support rep who is already fully aware of their history and needs, and who can quickly share an existing solution.
Knowledge management vehicles give clients the tools they need to succeed on their own, as well. For instance, a customer-facing or external Knowledge Base and community forums give clients access to the answers they need to troubleshoot problems and find solutions to their issues independently. As a result, customer support teams can deflect tickets and invest more time in resolving the complex issues that are inherent to B2B customer support.
Collaboration is key
Collaboration is integral to an strong knowledge management framework. If development, support, marketing, and sales teams are operating in a silo, then all the knowledge and data companies collect ultimately goes to waste.
Collaborative customer support software helps businesses make the most of their knowledge, and the customer experience is positively impacted as a result. Excellent customer service is dependent on knowledge sharing across departments and visibility at the customer level. Collaboration tools allows teams to share information cross-functionally, and also enables new agents to learn from their peers while simultaneously solving customer issues faster.
Knowledge management is an important component of a strong customer service strategy. To enhance the customer experience, support staff should have access to a wide array of information about each customer, and clients should be empowered to help themselves as well. However, knowledge often goes to waste if team members don't work together, which is why so many organizations benefit from collaborative B2B customer service software.
Want to learn more about collaboration? Watch our fun and informative video: