I worked in an inbound call centre for three years.  I worked as a Level 1 analyst, meaning that the work I was doing was intended to resemble all of the previous calls that I’d taken. In other words, I wasn’t paid to come up with creative or unusual solutions.

 In that time, I learned that there were three ways that clients could quickly become upset:

  • Getting the runaround. There are few ways to upset a call centre client more quickly than causing them to feel that they are being shuffled around between people who don’t know the answer, or don’t care about their issue.
  • Getting the wrong answer. Clients rarely got upset when they were told by a rep “I’m not sure, I’ll have to check on that”.   What would upset them is if the representative confidently presented them with the wrong answer, and the client had to call back later to rectify the issue.
  • Getting inconsistent answers. Possibly even more so than getting the wrong answer, clients got very upset when they were told different things by different phone reps.   This was often the result of the phone rep working from memory or making assumptions.

All three of these can be addressed by proper knowledge management practices.   

Clients who feel as though they’re being given the runaround are usually being passed between reps who don’t have an answer for them.  A comprehensive and organized knowledgebase can often (but not always) mitigate this.

Similarly, clients are less likely to receive the wrong answer if the knowledge base is up to date.  This cannot prevent a rep from giving the wrong answer, but it can present that rep with every opportunity to give the right answer.

A knowledgebase, and strong knowledge management practices, can go a long way toward mitigating inconsistent information.   So long as an employee can rely on a knowledgebase, they’ll have the confidence to consistently provide the information contained in it to clients.

The real takeaway is that a lot of customer service challenges can be addressed by providing consistent information.    If the information in a knowledgebase is correct, and the reps consistently provide that information, there’s no way to go wrong.  There are always edge cases, but that’s what an escalation path is for.   Level 1 reps should be able to pretty much read from the screen.

This example is specific to a call centre, but is easily extrapolated to almost any business setting.   Providing inconsistent information is a waste of everyone’s time, it’s a waste of money, and it speaks to unhealthy knowledge management practices.

The beautiful thing about information is that it is dynamic. It changes and grows.  In spite of this, an organization is still able to provide consistent information so long as that information is centralized. Information captured in a knowledgebase can act as a central source of truth. So long as organizational policies enforce its use, the information provided to clients will always be consistent.

And that’s beautiful.

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