6 benefits of knowledge management for your customer support team

Catherine Heath | March 23, 2021

Knowledge management is an area often neglected by companies because it can seem less related to turning a profit than other operations. 

However, neglect your knowledge management and you’ll find your company suffering later down the line. Productivity will be affected and your employees will suffer lower morale due to an inability to find the right knowledge. 

When your staff members leave, they’ll take important knowledge with them if it hasn’t been recorded. If you don’t find a way to manage knowledge effectively, it only exists in people’s heads and your organizational knowledge will gradually drain away over time. 

What is knowledge management?

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."

Knowledge management means managing your knowledge to your advantage. Individuals manage knowledge in their own minds, which may or may not be efficient. At an organizational level, a more focused effort is required using best practices and technology. 

Consider the definition of knowledge

  • facts, information, and skills acquired through experience or education; the theoretical or practical understanding of a subject.

  • awareness or familiarity gained by experience of a fact or situation.

The management of knowledge is typically a business or enterprise initiative that attempts to control the knowledge of an organization – from databases and documents to policies and individual expertise. 

Even though knowledge management is extremely valuable, organizations still struggle to effectively use that knowledge. Every company has unique needs when it comes to knowledge management which lead to different policies and procedures, but basic principles still apply. 

Successful knowledge management initiatives have provided enormous returns for businesses and significantly impacted their bottom line – also driving a competitive advantage to businesses around the world. 

In customer support teams, it’s massively beneficial to have a centralized repository of knowledge. Companies who sell complex products will see direct benefit from being able to use an entire collected library for technical support and issue resolution. Having this knowledge readily available can even make the difference between first-call resolution and an ongoing problem for the customer. 

Now we’ll look at some of the benefits of knowledge management for customer support teams.  

1. You’re protecting your assets

Some interesting research by Matthew Loxton on his knowledge management blog highlights how the more businesses focus on intellectual rather than physical assets, for example in modern SaaS startups, the higher the cost of lost knowledge. 

Matthew says, “the more an organization bases its existence on intellectual rather than physical assets, the more vulnerable it is to mass defection of the sources and creators of those assets. 

Furthermore, since the larger component of the intellectual assets lie in the tacit knowledge of the workforce, defection does not just represent the loss of creative capacity, but also of existing organizational knowledge assets.”

In other words, your knowledge is your product. Instead of physical assets like machinery or factories, software companies make their money off their intellectual property. These kinds of companies are staffed by knowledge workers, who are the holders of your company knowledge. Keep it safe. 

2. Productivity will increase

The more time your team members spend searching for information, the less time they can spend dealing with customer enquiries. A lack of knowledge management is tedious and drains worker morale. Sharing knowledge improves productivity by 35% according to Mckinsey. 

Your customer support team’s productivity will increase if you can manage your knowledge effectively and also make your team members happier. They will easily be able to find the knowledge they need to do their jobs properly and help customers faster. 

A better knowledge management strategy frees up your support agents from spending most of their time on minutiae. By covering the basics of enabling them to do their jobs well, your staff can focus on exceeding expectations and devote more energy to developing long-term strategy. 

3. Higher staff retention

If new staff members, or even existing staff members, have to hunt or relearn crucial information that could otherwise be stored effectively, this will impact your staff retention. 

Frustration levels rise and the learning curve becomes that bit harder. Staff soon start looking elsewhere. 53% of C-suite respondents said the knowledge-related costs of losing key employees falls somewhere between $50K-$299K per employee. 

If you employ a knowledge management strategy, learning will become part of your company culture and you will stimulate an innovative and versatile company culture, one that learns from its mistakes. 

You will then be able to attract and retain more staff, because they have higher job satisfaction and spend less time duplicating information. Studies show that 90% of the time knowledge workers spend in creating new reports or products is actually a duplication of work that already exists. 

4. Customers will be happier

Your customer service will improve if your frontline staff have access to the knowledge that they need. Response times will be faster and employees will have more time to spend on each customer. 

Rather than having to send an email or wander round the office to find someone that knows the answer, the knowledge will be at their fingertips. Staff can make faster and better decisions, and your customers will be impressed. 

It’s even better if you can create a customer-facing knowledge base that enables customers to help themselves. Your knowledge management strategy shouldn’t just stop at the doorway to your business – it should also include your most important stakeholders, your customers. 

5. Raises your bottom line

It will raise your bottom line if you treat your knowledge like the asset it is and make every effort to retain it. Better knowledge management has the potential to save your company $6 million a year, so it makes good business sense to invest in these initiatives.  

If your customers are happier as a result of better access to knowledge, they will stay with your company as loyal customers, spending more with your company over time. If your staff are happier, they will also keep working for you longer, and reduced staff turnover saves your business a lot of money. If employee productivity rises, so will your bottom line.

6. Better employee experience

If you have improved access to knowledge then the experience your employees have of working for your company will be much better. 

Employee disengagement loses $7 trillion globally so you need to do as much as you can to engage your employees and ensure they enjoy working for your company. 

Improved access to information will help your new employees get up to speed more quickly and improve the onboarding process. Existing employees will be happier that they don’t have to look far for the information they need to do their jobs effectively. 

Final remarks

Knowledge management is an important part of your customer support strategy. To enhance the customer experience, employees should have access to a wide array of information about the business and customers, and customers should also be empowered to help themselves. 

For knowledge management to be successful, it must be directly embedded in the company culture and integrated into the processes and strategies of the business. Every employee should be involved in collecting, optimizing and reusing knowledge. 

A well-functioning knowledge base is key to a successful knowledge management strategy. Learn more about KnowledgeOwl knowledge base software today! 

About the author
Catherine Heath
Catherine Heath

Catherine is the Community Builder for KnowledgeOwl. She is also a freelance writer based in Manchester. She writes blogs, social media, copy, and designs owl-based images. 

You can find out more about Catherine on her personal websites Away With Words and Catherine Heath Studios.

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