A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away, we told you everything there is to know about Knowledge Bases and our own internal processes for knowledge management and training. Like any good magician, however, we didn’t exactly reveal the tricks of the trade. Let’s do a quick recap of what a good Knowledge Base is:
A good Knowledge Base is organized. Generating leads and making online sales is going to be an uphill battle if you expect your agents to wade through poorly organized information. Just because it’s there does not mean it’s useful. Relevant information needs to be organized in clear, concise chunks of information. This will keep agents from having to search for information for too long.
A good Knowledge Base is beneficial. The information you put in your Knowledge Base should do more than serve your customers. It should serve your agents. If what you consider “important” does not help your agents learn to be an extension of your brand, then you’re not going to see the results you want from your live chat.
A good Knowledge Base is constantly evolving. Show us a company who has found success by doing the same thing over and over again and we’ll show you how to pinch yourself awake. Good brands are dynamic; they evolve with their customers. It’s just how the world works. This means your Knowledge Base needs to grow with you as well. Your agents need to have the most up-to-date information possible at all times.
In other words, your Knowledge Base needs to have the most accurate information. It needs to be simple to navigate and beneficial to both your customers and your chat team.
Still, even the perfect Knowledge Base is wasted effort if your agents aren’t trained how to use it effectively and properly.
Keep the eye rolls to a minimum and hear us out. We know you’re thinking, “How hard is it to read information if it’s relevant and organized?” Well, take a step back and think of what online consumers are looking for from chat. They want speed. They want information. They want help making a decision.
So how do you train agents to search for relevant information quickly in order to help their chatters make a decision? We’re glad you asked.
The best place to start is in your agents’ workspace. And we’re award-winners when it comes to homeagent operations, so we know a thing or two here. For a remote live chat agent, a functional workspace is more than just a desk with a computer. The space needs to be designated to encourage focus and limit distraction, as well as equipped with the best equipment possible to foster successful chats. For our agents specifically, we require a designated home office with a reliable internet connection, as well as a dual monitor setup. It’s a fact that two screens are better than one. Not only does this setup increase productivity in the workplace between 20-30%, it also gives live chat agents a larger visual field to work with, limiting their need to tab back and forth between their chats and Knowledge Base.
Now, we’ve been doing this for a while so we’ve seen some really inefficient models loosely based on what our agents are required to have. The results are never ideal.
Using a television as a second screen. TVs present a few issues but aren’t totally impractical as second screens. The trick is in the function and space. If the TV is being used for its original purpose - to watch TV - then it presents a distraction. If it’s not in a dedicated work space, then the agent’s ability to focus on work is compromised. Now, should an agent choose to use a television in place of a traditional monitor in a designated work space...well,then there’s room for success.
Using two separate laptops/computers. Two screens improve efficiency by creating a larger visual field. When done correctly, it allows agents to see more information at once and navigate through it seamlessly from screen to screen. Having two screens that are not connected, however, does not provide this same benefit. While the visual field is doubled, so is the work that comes with navigating that space. Two separate sets of equipment means twice the typing, twice the movement, and no option of copy/pasting between screens. It’s a recipe for disaster as it tends to elongate response times.
Splitting one standard sized screen into two. Standard laptop and computer screens are generally perfect for one window open at a time. Splitting them in half to give the functionality of two screens without physically having separate monitors, however, never bodes well. Sure you have your chats separate from your Knowledge Base, but you’ve also just given yourself a bigger hurdle: looking for information on a zoomed out screen or having to scroll from side to side. Again, your response times suffer and now you’ve put yourself at risk for using the wrong information.
There’s nothing that works better than a proper dual monitor setup when it comes to bringing online consumers what they want. But having the proper setup and tools is only the beginning. Refining the skills required to navigate those two screens effectively is where the real magic happens.
To chat novices, it may seem like training an agent to use their resources doesn’t require much thought. Surely you just give them the link, tell them to read through and let them at it, right?
Wrong. You’re training an agent how to effectively use your Knowledge Base so you can promise your online consumers speed, information and help making a decision.
Suddenly, simplicity is just about as far away as Dorothy and Toto were from Kansas.
When it comes to training our new agents to effectively utilize a Knowledge Base, we don’t take the task lightly. Expecting someone to represent a client while simultaneously balancing three chats and 27 second response times is a lot to ask for. We believe in giving our agents the best training so they can produce the best results.
So where do you start laying a solid foundation for Knowledge Base navigation? Some might say “the basics” but it’s important not to oversimplify the process. First, a new agent must understand the tools they have at their disposal and why they are important to their success as an agent:
Keyboard Shortcuts. There are a number of keyboard shortcuts that agents can use to improve their speed and accuracy on chat. The most important, however, is the search function. (That’s ‘ctrl+f’ for you PC users and ‘command+f’ for Mac users.)
Knowledge Base Structure. Careful construction of a Knowledge Base is a tool in itself. If you’ve organized your Knowledge Base in the best way possible, then its physical structure will allow your agent an addition tool and further improve their ability to navigate the space quickly.
After you’ve laid out the tools for an agent, it’s important that they understand the who, why, and how of chatting:
General Client Knowledge tells your agent who they are chatting for. Clarifying this allows them to be more than an intermediary point between you and your consumers. It allows them to be an extension of your brand.
Goals on Chat tell your agent why they are chatting and what their chats should ultimately produce, whether that’s new leads or online sales.
Keywords, buzzwords, and industry specific vocabulary teach your agent how to identify what your online customers need. In order for an agent to fully understand those needs, they need to understand the vocabulary shoppers in your industry are going to come to them with, and the vocabulary you expect them to use in response.
Good Knowledge Base training involves introducing tools and skills to new agents. A well-trained agent will know who they’re chatting for, why they’re chatting, how to chat and how to find relevant information - all while working towards their KPI’s!
Let that sink in for a moment. Consider how haphazard training might sell your chat service short. Knowing keyboard shortcuts only goes so far if your agent cannot identify keywords to search for. In the same vein, if your agent doesn’t understand why they’re chatting then everything they know about your company is wasted.
This presents the biggest obstacle to effective Knowledge Base training; introducing a new agent to completely new client material and teaching them effective chatting habits at the same time.
For some, this is an overwhelming thing to undertake. For us, it’s simple.
Our new agents are introduced to our Knowledge Base setup right from the onset of their time in The Academy. Since we’ve mastered this KB thing, all of our Knowledge Bases use the same basic organizational structure. By learning their fundamentals alongside a basic Knowledge Base, our new agents start to familiarize themselves with their equipment and the tools we mentioned before.
After a new agent graduates from The Chat Shop Academy, their Team Leader schedules client calls for each client the agent will be chatting for. Some agents only ever see one client while others have been trained on much more. One team of agents chats for over 115 businesses!
Client calls familiarize each agent with the who, what, and why of each client they’re assigned to. By way of screen sharing, Team Leaders are able to show new agents the Knowledge Base, as well as how to navigate it effectively.
Finally, it’s time for the new agent to refine their understanding of the clients they are assigned and learn how to chat. Here, we find ourselves full circle with each new agent resuming their training as it started - through test chat after test chat until they’re ready to shine in a live setting.
By understanding the purpose of a Knowledge Base and the ways in which it’s supposed to encourage results on chat, we’ve been able to perfect the tool itself. Our further understanding of what it takes to make a great live chat agent has only added to that by allowing us to train and produce the best live chat agents around.
Join us next time as we dive into The Chat Shop Academy. What is it, who’s the mastermind behind it and why is it so effective? We can’t wait to share some of our new agents thoughts with you as well!
Are you ready to launch a stellar in-house chat team but need a bit of help setting up? Find out how we can help today.