Collaboration Articles

How to Choose a Knowledge Management System: A 10-Point Checklist

by Mike Aoki
Published on 19 July 2017

how to choose knowledge management software

Imagine your customer service agent interacting with a customer. They mean well, but it takes them forever to find the right information using your current knowledge management (KM) system. What score do you think the caller would give them on their post-call customer satisfaction survey? How likely are they to recommend your company or buy from you again?

Was the customer service agent at fault? Maybe not. They may have simply been victimized by a slow, outdated knowledge management system.

Years ago, companies began storing policies, product information, and marketing promotions in internal intranets, wikis, and sometimes even in Excel spreadsheets. As the sheer amount of information grew, they stayed with their current system as it got bloated.

State of the art knowledge management systems, however, make it easy to find the right answers quickly, reduce average handle time (AHT), and improve customer satisfaction (CSAT) and net promoter scores (NPS.)

Here is a 10-point checklist for how to choose a knowledge management system for your company, ensuring that you avoid some of the pitfalls of outdated KM systems.

1. Accuracy

Even if the right information is loaded into the database, can your new knowledge management system find it using commonly searched phrases?

For example, the product information needed for a warranty claim is different than the product information needed to upsell a customer. Does your KM system have the ability to correctly sort potential answers, so that the most likely ones show up at the top of the list?

2. Relevancy

Can your new knowledge management system retrieve only the information that applies to your employee's role, or do they waste time sifting through unnecessary information? A great knowledge management system will prioritize answers based upon your employee's job.

For example, a tier 1 agent's login only brings up information related to basic inquiries. Meanwhile, a tier 2 escalation agent gets more detailed information. As a result, AHT decreases and customers are more satisfied because agents have the right information at their fingertips.

3. Speed

Being accurate and relevant is a great first step, but you also need a system that is fast. There's nothing worse than waiting for the computer to finish its search. That drives up talk time and reduces service levels. It's important to remember that speed matters!

4. Compliance

Getting accurate and relevant information quickly helps with compliance. Agents have the right answers, meaning that they don't need to ad lib or guess the correct procedures. This helps ensure compliance to legal standards, which is critical in certain industries such as financial services.

5. Ease of knowledge migration

Migration is sometimes viewed as a pain point, but it is also a great opportunity to review and update your knowledge articles. Edit them for accuracy, scanability, and effectiveness. As for the migration itself, the right vendor will have processes in place to make it move as seamlessly as possible.

6. Ability to update information and add new content

Can your new KM system be administered by your own employees? Great knowledge management systems make it easy for your team to keep the information up to date. It also allows you to add new content and search terms without having to call customer support.

7. Feedback loop to create employee engagement

Does your new knowledge management system provide agents with a built-in opportunity to provide feedback on content accuracy? Can they request new search terms and expanded descriptions? An excellent KM system allows users to leverage the system to produce improvements.

8. Analytics for scorecards and coaching data

Can your knowledge management system generate scorecards to indicate the most searched topics? You can use this information to train and coach agents to answer those questions faster.

9. Provision for daily knowledge updates and training

A great KM system allows agents to sign in for their shift and automatically see the day's updates and key messages. It can also host eLearning modules so that agents are up to speed before their first call of the day.

10. Ability to be deployed enterprise wide

Having separate knowledge management systems for your contact center, sales team, and web site increases administrative overhead. It also creates corporate silos. Says knowledge management system provider InfiniteKM in their white paper Tools to Accelerate Business Results, "according to a Gartner study, 66% of enterprises use six or more information repositories. While much of this vast wealth of information is likely relevant to customers, agents, and sales reps, it is also likely far too cumbersome to navigate." In comparison, a knowledge management system should be deployed enterprise wide to increase information sharing and reduce administrative management costs.

You can use these ten criteria to choose the right knowledge management system for better customer service and sales support. The only thing worse than the expense of a new system is the cost of poor customer service and lost sales.

About the author: Mike Aoki is the President of Reflective Keynotes Inc., a Canadian training company that helps contact centers improve their sales and customer retention results. As a call center expert, Mike serves on the Advisory Council of the Greater Toronto Area Contact Center Association and was Master of Ceremonies for their 2012-2014 and 2016 Annual Conferences. He was also chosen as one of the "Top 50 Customer Service Thought Leaders on Twitter" for 2014, 2015 and 2016.

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