Dynamic Knowledge Management

Key to Better Web Self-Service By Nitin Badjatia, Enterprise Solutions Architect, KNOVA

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Nitin Badjatia has been a technology consultant, banker and business strategist for the last 18 years. At KNOVA, he’s responsible for constructing tailored service resolution management solutions for KNOVA Nitin Badjatia customers. Badjatia joined KNOVA in 2004 through a merger with ServiceWare Technologies. Read more from him at his weblog “Thought Stream” www.nitinbadjatia.com.

e’ve all experienced it—a product that we’ve come to rely on suddenly malfunctions. After attempting to troubleshoot the issue ourselves, our next instinct is to search for a solution on the product’s website. If we’re lucky, we’ll arrive at a resolution, successfully “deflecting” a call into the product company’s call center. All too often, however, the website fails to get us to that resolution. We may try searching the site again, maybe with a different set of keywords, but we probably won’t try a third time. At that point the product company faces two residual problems. First, we may head off “onto the cloud” to see if an Internet search can produce a solution, one that is outside the control of the product company. Or, we’ll call the company, thereby creating an exponential increase in the cost of handling that issue. Both suboptimal directions are often the result of inadequate knowledge availability for selfservice users. Many companies struggle to understand that self-service technology can only achieve its optimal benefits when it enables a dynamic ecosystem of knowledge management. We can’t find knowledge if it is out of context, out of date or just not available. To get the most out of your knowledge infrastructure, all three of these issues need to be addressed: 1. Build knowledge that is in the context of your customer. Many organizations incorrectly assume that publishing product manuals, and similar formal descriptive documentation, to the Web will enable their customers to solve their own problems. While this may work in some instances, most product manuals aren’t constructed to resolve customer issues. In other words, the context of the knowledge is incorrect. Building knowledge in the context of the customer starts by understanding the questions they ask and keywords they use when they search for solutions. This process starts in your call center and extends to your website. In your call center, customer queries need to be captured in the actual “voice of the customer.” This point of contact is where “conversational knowledge” is created. Much of your success with self-service will be your organization’s ability to develop

conversational knowledge. While this may require a significant “rewiring” of how your call center agents handle customer calls, a robust knowledge infrastructure will empower them to accomplish this without additional overhead. 2. Understand your knowledge coverage ratio. Knowledge coverage is another factor to consider when planning to roll out self-service. Simply stated, how many of the known issues with your products have welldocumented solutions? As noted in the example above, most customers may search twice on your self-service website, but each attempted search that fails will reduce their confidence in self-resolving their issue.

“Self-service technology can only achieve its optimal benefits when it enables a dynamic ecosystem of knowledge management.”
By studying coverage closely, you’ll increase the chance that your customers will succeed in resolving their issues via self-service. With a robust knowledge management infrastructure, your organization can become proactive in closing those gaps by analyzing reports that identify areas where customers were not successful in finding a resolution. Understanding this coverage ratio, and proactively developing knowledge to cover more resolutions, will substantially increase success rates on self-service. 3. Enable content vitality. A final factor is putting in place a knowledge infrastructure

that enables knowledge vitality, or freshness, through deeply integrated processes. Knowledge is ever-evolving. Unlike product manuals, which are typically tailored to a static state, your customers’ experiences are dynamic and ever-changing. Your selfservice knowledge should reflect the best resolutions of this cumulative set of customer experiences. The best way to capture these experiences is through integrating systems and processes throughout your customer lifecycle management approach. The right knowledge management infrastructure will enable this content vitality by empowering both your customers and employees to participate in real-time knowledge improvements. Your empowered employees should be able to modify knowledge on issues as they evolve, giving your organization the ability to present the best knowledge options to your customers in real time.

A Dynamic Environment is the Ultimate Goal
When considering self-service, it is important to remember that customer-centric knowledge is not created just by your organization. It intimately involves your customer in a constantly evolving ecosystem. To improve your customers’ chances of finding the right knowledge, at the right time, the three focus areas above should serve as foundation blocks for your knowledge management solution. T
KNOVA, a Consona CRM solution, maximizes the value of every interaction throughout the customer lifecycle. Built on an adaptive search and knowledge management platform, KNOVA’s suite of applications integrates with CRM implementations to help companies increase revenues, reduce service costs and improve customer satisfaction. Industry leaders including AOL, Ford, HP, Novell, McAfee and H&R Block rely on KNOVA’s award-winning service resolution management applications to power an intelligent customer experience on their websites and within their contact centers. For more information, visit www.knova.com.

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KMWorld April 2008

Your Customers Can Search, But Do They Find?
By Nitin Badjatia, Enterprise Solutions Architect, KNOVA

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Nitin Badjatia has been a technology consultant, banker and business strategist for the last 18 years. At KNOVA, he’s responsible for constructing tailored service resolution management solutions for KNOVA Nitin Badjatia customers. Badjatia joined KNOVA in 2004 through a merger with ServiceWare Technologies. Read more from him at his weblog, “Thought Stream”, www.nitinbadjatia.com.

ftentimes when customers come to your website, they are there to find an answer to an issue—a resolution to a problem. Many companies seem to think that attaching a robust search engine to a content source is enough to do the trick. But companies that consider customer self-service a strategic asset see that inbound customer exception in a different light. They realize that customers don’t want to search for the best result; rather they want to find a resolution, and find it quickly. It may state the obvious, but it is important to note that, while issue resolution must incorporate a robust search technology, that technology must also be intelligent enough to interpret the underlying meaning of the customer query. Furthermore, a holistic view of issue resolution also considers the nature of the content that customers are presented, and empowers your organization to proactively monitor and perfect the resolutions presented to customers. That simple text entry box, which usually is prominently displayed on every page of your website, has a daunting task. When a customer enters a search term, typically no more than two to three words, that box must launch a query into available content sources to find the right answer as quickly and efficiently as possible. On a typical website, the underlying enterprise search engine scours your content sources, and presents the best possible documents that reflect the queried terms. This is not much different than popular Web search tools. Customers are left to fend for themselves and interpret which query result actually provides the best possible resolution to their request. In today’s competitive environment, leaving customers to fend for themselves is not enough.

technology must be robust enough to interpret the keywords and present results that contain similar terms or concepts. Such contextualized results reflect a knowledge management approach to enterprise search. By returning results that have concepts that are common to the query, your customer’s chances of a speedy resolution increase substantially. That search box must also understand that many queries are best answered by invoking a process, not just returning search results. For example a customer may initiate a request that asks for “password reset.”

reduces the result set and improves the speed to resolution.

Successful Search Depends on Robust Content
Even the most dynamic search technology is dependent on a robust set of content sources. Your customers can’t find content that isn’t reachable. Often overlooked when considering search technology, content ultimately makes the search experience dynamic and productive for your customers. Simply exposing product manuals, technical notes and formally authored content to a search engine is not sufficient. Dynamic content management involves an ongoing analysis of customer queries to better understand where content gaps exist and aligning content management processes to help close those gaps. By enabling a true knowledge management-driven search process, customer support administrators should be empowered to analyze search query data and proactively focus on developing new content, or improving existing content, to increase the number of successful resolutions for customers. The goal for your customers is finding the right answer. The goal for your organization should be providing that right answer in a fast, accurate and consistent manner through a dynamic knowledge management process. By integrating a robust enterprise search with a proactive content creation and maintenance process, you’ll be able to deliver on the customer’s expectation of finding the right answers quickly.
KNOVA, a Consona CRM solution, maximizes the value of every interaction throughout the customer lifecycle. Built on an adaptive search and knowledge management platform, KNOVA’s suite of applications integrates with CRM implementations to help companies increase revenues, reduce service costs and improve customer satisfaction. Industry leaders including AOL, Ford, HP, Novell, McAfee and H&R Block rely on KNOVA’s award-winning service resolution management applications to power an intelligent customer experience on their websites and within their contact centers. For more information, visit www.knova.com.

“Customers don’t want to search for the best result; rather they want to find a resolution, and find it quickly.”
Instead of returning a set of results, the search box should understand the purpose of that query, and spawn the password reset process, or resolution wizard. As with contextualized search, speed to resolution is the real key to success. When the query submitted into the search box is considered too broad, which is often the case with single-word queries, the underlying technology can improve speed to resolution by not only providing the best possible content, but also by topical categorization of relevant content. Content that is clustered, acting as a filter,

Understanding the Customer’s Query
For leading customer-service organizations, that text entry box needs to be smart enough to interpret the purpose of the customer query. In some instances, query terms are not exact matches to terms within your content. In these cases, the underlying

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KMWorld May 2008