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It ain’t knowledge, if it ain’t relevant

I have an 11 year old son, he is a bright little person. He reads a lot and he reads a real variety of things about science, history, and memes, you know, the typical stuff. He has lots and lots of information. If you have children then you will know what I am talking about when I say they can be a little random at times, and I think my fine young offspring is possibly a little more random than most. What I mean is, that he can often come out with one of his interesting tidbits of information at the strangest time. For example, whilst recently discussing which of our little treasures had “forgotten” to empty the dishwasher that morning, he managed to interject that “Melbourne was originally called Batmania”. Now while this is quite interesting, it simply didn’t fit into the moment. What it lacked was context and relevance.

It’s a problem I see often working with lots of different businesses. Let me give you some context and a little relevance. Let’s say they have purchased one of your widgets from the Acme Company and you have unpacked it, but now you can’t seem to get it setup and working. Acme are a pretty successful company that sell lots of different types of widgets. Each individual widget has its own user manual, troubleshooting guide, compatible accessories catalogue, warranty information, and financing model, as well as a how to setup video. While all of the information about the widgets is useful at different points, what you want is to find the information about this specific widget that will help me with the specific setup problem you are experiencing right now. The context is a customer having a setup issue and the relevance is this specific widget. All other information at this point is irrelevant noise.

As a business, the Acme company wants to be able to resolve the issue for the customer as quickly and cost effectively as possible to ensure the negative experience is turned around into a positive one. This must be balanced against the need to keep support costs manageable. An effective solution for Acme would be to provide a customer portal where they can access the product information, submit a customer service request and possibly use live chat to talk to a customer service agent. It’s easy to upload all of the relevant materials and provide the customer a menu structure to navigate and locate the information. What’s even better is to be able to utilise the knowledge base in more intuitive ways. A better customer experience would be to guide the customer through a process like this.

When a customer arrives on the portal they would be given the option to login if they are already registered or to select the product they have purchased from a visual listing. On every screen the user will have the option to login or to register for the portal. Until the point that the registration is completed, cookies can be used to store the information they are supplying anonymously. Once a product is selected, the user would see options to setup the product, register the product warranty and see the users guide. Selecting the setup option would give options to have a guided setup using the knowledge from the user manual or to troubleshoot a setup issue. If the troubleshoot option is selected, the search function can be used to find all information (web pages, documents or videos) that are associated with this specific product and setup problems. Now the knowledgebase is actually becoming highly valuable as it understands the context and is able to provide relevant information.

Similarly, the same concept can be used to utilise the organisational knowledgebase most effectively for customer service agents. When a user contacts customer service, they will be asked for information on the product they are calling about and their general issue. A customer service agent will enter this information into their service desk system to create a new case. At this point their service desk system should be able to take that information and automatically locate and display the troubleshooting guide and how to setup video. Without the need for a single search, the agent has the information they need to assist the customer and have the issue resolved in the minimum time.

While the solution is clear and straightforward, the challenge is the sheer volume and the variety of information that both customers and customer service agents have access to. They are swamped with information, irrelevant noise. In order to succeed, an Insight Engine is used to identify the results that are most relevant in a given context. Now if only I could encourage my son to use an Insight Engine during family conversations.

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