According to the recent State of Global Customer Service report from Microsoft, the most frustrating aspect (36%) of poor customer service is when the representative lacks adequate knowledge. When the representative is equipped with the necessary knowledge, they’re able to provide answers to customers in an efficient, timely manner.
Having an answer to every customer’s questions immediately is not always possible when dealing with complex products. However, a solid amount of knowledge helps representatives start investigations from the right place and connect the dots, which helps speed up the response time. In turn, having enough knowledge in support teams increases customer satisfaction, because every customer appreciates fast, helpful replies.
If it is important to have knowledgeable support representatives - how can this be achieved? How do you ensure the team’s knowledge is kept up to date? Here are 5 practical ideas on how to achieve this:
#1. Involve the support department as part of the product release process
When talking about SaaS products, where a new version of the product is deployed every 1-4 weeks, it is extremely important to ensure the support team is aware of incoming changes before the changes are released. You want to avoid a situation where a customer contacts support about the new feature or change in the product behavior, and support doesn’t have any idea of what the customer is talking about.
#2. Build a comprehensive knowledge base
Make sure your business has a user-friendly internal knowledge base, which your team feels comfortable using. Knowledge bases are useless if they do not allow users to search for information, or where it is difficult to find answers and instructions. Even though they may contain a lot of information, this isn't useful if it’s not easily consumed.
New information and findings should be immediately documented to this central place, as this will help information to be spread across the team.
It is not only about the usability of the Knowledge Base, but the information should be up to date so that the team can trust it. Make sure you have a process in place to keep data up to date (and add new content when appropriate).
#3. Provide a sandbox environment
Many people enjoy and learn best when they can be hands-on. Enabling a playground environment for your support representatives can help a lot to adapt to new features and changes in functionalities. Make sure that there is a place where everyone can play freely with all the features of your product.
Especially with new team members, a great way to boost their knowledge is to do a small role-play. New team member should give a product demo to a colleague or a manager who then will ask additional questions during the demo. This helps to spot areas where the support representative might need additional information or training.
#4. Hold regular Q&A sessions
A surprisingly effective way to keep your team’s knowledge up to par, is to have quick but regular question and answer sessions. This can be done as a part of the daily stand-up meeting (if you have one) and will take just a few minutes.
One person is responsible for preparing questions about the existing and recently introduced topics/features/functionalities/internal processes to spot check the knowledge and keep old and new information in everyone's minds.
The person who is expected to answer to each question, should be selected randomly (e.g. by handing over a small bean bag), and naturally other team members can help. The purpose of the approach is not to do any finger pointing, but offer a platform where everyone’s knowledge is tested and information is shared.
Such a Q&A game can also be run digitally if the team prefers.
#5. Run a 15 mins training session
If you notice that a specific topic causes a lot of questions within your team, or specific topics are constantly asked from your product team, it might make sense to have a quick training session about that topic. These sessions can be included in regular weekly meetings or held casually over a coffee or lunch.
The training session could also incorporate an online quiz to test individuals’ knowledge. Some online training tools offer gamification, which may suit your organization's culture and act as an extra push to keep everyone updated about different topics.
Training can also be done by using use cases / real scenarios, to create a more hands-on experience.
Teaching something to others is usually a great way to learn or reinforce knowledge. Make sure your team members have the opportunity to teach tricks and tips to each other.
Depending on the team structure and size, make sure everyone can handle different kinds of inquiries. By offering a variety of different topics and problems to solve, it helps representatives to build a stronger understanding of how different topics are connected to each other. This helps to increase the broader understanding of the product as well.