Faced with ever increasing competition in mature markets, large product makers and service providers are forced to adopt active marketing policies and offer new products and services. New offers are becoming more diversified as they focus on different market segments, vary depending on the existing service level, generate cross-sale and up-sale revenue, and come along with a loan offer. Many companies, especially those in the high-tech sector, target niche market segments by launching specialized services whose differences are minor, but nevertheless very important from the marketing standpoint. Focus on marketing leads to explosive growth in volume of information critical for successful selling of these services and for providing subsequent customer care.
An important key to success is the observance of strict commercial confidentiality up to the moment when the new services are unveiled to public so that a competitive advantage is sustained for a longer time. Your company employees and your business partners (agents, dealers) must be up-to-date on new services and learn about them in a timely fashion. This is important for providing potential clients with accurate information about features of the new services and terms of after-sale support.
Instant access to accurate information about new services is of great interest to sales office and call center managers who are responsible for customer care availability and quality. They must be confident that all customer facing employees, from the very first moment of their work shift, have everything they need to deal with processing client queries in a qualified, accurate and consistent manner to the satisfaction of the client and to be able to resolve more questions with first contact.
Companies providing popular services are interested in informing their clients about temporary technical problems that may occur during service provision. It is particularly important that a downtime announcement is relevant and consistent.
An important factor that complicates the delivery of timely and accurate information to clients about new services and technical problems is the scattered geographic distribution of points of sale and service, so typical for large companies. In addition, certain aspects of new services may vary from region to region. The same applies to technical problems.
Successful companies are interested in a solution that provides customer facing representatives in sales offices and call centers with access to timely and accurate information and makes training in new products and services easier.
The number of customer serving employees who require improved access to information is on the rise
In recent years the number of company employees who must interact with customers has substantially increased. They include:
- Call center agents
- Office employees
- Credit risk managers
- Client retention specialist
- Telemarketing operators
Information solutions evolve as your business grows
Typically office workers and call center operators must be familiar with a variety of documents owned by various departments within a company - policies, procedures, business processes, orders and instructions, descriptions of products and services, pricing plans etc. Many companies keep using traditional methods to deliver information to their employees and business associates – e-mail, fax, letter etc. These traditional methods initially appear to be simple and inexpensive; in fact, in the long run often they turn out to be inefficient and costly as they make information hard to organize and difficult to access.
Few large companies, primarily in the telecommunications sector, have built in-house their own enterprise information portals for their own offices and call centers. However, these solutions have significant functional limitations including inability to evaluate employee awareness, to provide employee self-training, and to determine what particular content is most frequently used and whether it is useful. They have limited access rights administration and small potential for customizing the front end to meet the needs of specialist in different departments. Platform upgrade is not supported. Often they are poorly documented and their support relies heavily on specific employees. As a result, long-term use of these solutions involves a considerable risk to company's business.
For efficient access to corporate information and conducting employee training, new versatile tools known as "knowledge management systems" (KMS) have been developed. Most of these systems are based on context search for pre-written answers to questions typically asked by clients. Naturally the KMS do not come along with ready interfaces to data-driven customer applications, such as billing systems, enterprise data warehouses, call center software, CRM systems, etc.). The use of KMS is most appropriate in small and mid-size companies that provide fairly simple services and put together basic market offers. In large companies that sell sophisticated bundled services in the telecommunications, insurance and finance areas, client relationships are complex and multidimensional, which makes the use of KMS hardly justified.