Are you looking for a solid recommendation for your next investment in a call center knowledge base?
Then this article has just the answer you need.
Within the next few minutes, you’ll learn EXACTLY why and how WordPress is the ideal tool for enabling your customer service team for success (in 2022 and beyond).
And here it is…
In today’s realm of call center productivity and performance:
“77% of agents say their role is more strategic than two years ago — up from 71% in 2018”, according to the SalesForce study: State of Service (4th Edition).
A masterful combination of both soft and hard skills, equals a level of customer service excellence that keeps companies ahead in the tussle for pole position.
The following infographic reveals the key skills acknowledged by customer service leaders as being most influential to performance:
As seen in the image above, amongst the most important abilities that customer service agents could have, (according to industry leaders), are the following:
- Product Knowledge
Said another way, it’s absolutely mission critical that customer service agents know how to:
- Articulate their speech and written language well
- Listen diligently in order to qualify customer needs accurately
- Deliver the most effective solution for each customer case – as quickly as possible
To simplify, we could categorize the 3 points above into just two buckets:
Soft skills (people based) and hard skills (competency based).
Each skill type has its own characteristic and quality.
And accordingly, the mode of acquisition also differs because of the natural contrast of these two types of agent attribute.
Soft skills, like listening, are (as the name suggests) difficult to get a firm handle on and train directly. But they tend to be formed in a more experiential way by reason of use. Soft skills are related to application. In other words, they help a customer services agent position themselves successfully within a customer encounter. Without which, successful delivery of a solution may be off target or misunderstood.
On the contrary, the hard skill of knowledge and technical competency (the key that underpins and largely dictates the outcome of customer service success) is acquired in a very causative manner. Also, agents’ knowledge proficiency can be evaluated and benchmarked with a certain precision.
So, we conclude. To succeed in generating a positive ROI on hiring call center staff, your business should invest in agents that are (a) well trained in handling people professionally and (b) really know their stuff related to your products and services.
A tall order to get right every time, even with the keenest labor management savvy.
But in this age of ‘technological enhanced’ agent enablement, is there a single winning strategy & solution for effectively straddling the task of successfully training your call center agents in both critical skill sets?
The short answer is ‘yes’.
The long(-er) answer is ‘WordPress’.
And the following article includes 14 evidence-backed reasons why we recommend a WordPress knowledge base as the ultimate call center enablement tool.
Plus, trailing these 14 points, we also reveal exactly how to configure your humble WordPress website to become an agent enablement accelerator for your call center.
14 Reasons Why Your Call Center Performance Plans Need To Include a WordPress Knowledge Base
When you were thinking of a call center knowledge base, WordPress may not have featured high up on your list of ideal solutions.
Perhaps you just never thought of WordPress in that way. Or maybe, you’ve never heard of WordPress.
Either way, it’s worth becoming accustomed with just how versatile the platform is for planning your best route to installing a call center knowledge.
Here is our list of recommendations for using a WordPress knowledge base:
- HIGH TRAINING OVERHEADS & LOW AGENT RETENTION
“…55% of contact centers spend 6-12 weeks training and onboarding new agents. This is potentially problematic for an industry with average annual turnover rates of 30-45%.”
There is typically a huge outpouring of unconverted value in the call center industry where training and agent retention is concerned.
It goes like this.
Call center agents are skilled knowledge workers. To be effective (and more so – profitable) they need to be trained up to a level of proficiency and then to gain experience on the job to further hone their craft.
As with any role, there is a lead time to reaching optimal productivity. But much as is the case with call center roles in general, there is a high attrition rate.
Call center jobs, although skilled, are typically considered entry level roles and remunerated in line with this.
Therefore, such positions tend to attract career starters looking for a step onto the first rung of the ladder. And once on-board and trained to proficiency, they quickly seek promotion or better pay, moving on, vacating the role.
This employee churn presents:
- An institutional loss of (medium to long term) unrealized training and development investment.
- A new cost requirement for training a new recruit.
And where each call center employee spends on average 6-12 weeks in training and up to 45% of call center staff vacate their posts annually – call centers find themselves in a continual state of training readiness.
“With these turnover rates, assuming agents complete training, contact centers are left with just a few months of productivity before agents move on to other opportunities.”
So, the task is on to genuinely flatten the learning curve and to claw back a significant proportion of inevitable losses to the staff turnover problem.
And this is where a knowledge base comes in useful. It’s the hub of your digital learning center for your call center.
If used correctly a knowledge base can serve to significantly reduce staff training overhead and also support higher employee engagement leading to more knowledge creation and utilization.
2. CALL CENTERS TYPICALLY INVEST MORE IN TRAINING
“Similar paying jobs spend significantly less time in training than contact center employees. For example, the average retail worker spends as few as 20 hours in training.”
Call center work comes with a high training requirement. In fact, higher than most other entry level service-based roles, like a retail assistant, for example.
This is perhaps because of call center agents having to overcome the disadvantage of remote engagement over a phone line. In the absence of face-to-face communication (and opportunity to call a colleague for help), call center workers depend largely on superior knowledge recall and well practiced call handling to bridge the confidence gap.
Being a successful call center operative relies heavily on responsiveness, keen listening skills to read the customer, 1-to-1 consultation and verbal agility.
Without the benefit of non-verbal cues and reassurance of eye contact, much more skill is exercised in conversation to compensate.
Your chosen call center knowledge base should therefore have comprehensive enough functionality to host a fully featured learning program with multimedia resources.
“Less than 10% of contact centers have agents reaching proficiency in less than two months. 42% of contact centers take between 2-4 months and over a third spend 5-7 months helping agents become fully proficient. Additionally, helping agents reach proficiency faster was the number one thing that contact centers said was the greatest area of improvement in their training program.”
Proficiency is where return on investment becomes feasible and really begins, not ends.
Dovetailing with the trial period of most permanent call center jobs, there is a 6 month lead time to proficiency for most agents.
Before proficiency is attained, agents still lean heavily upon their colleagues for peer-to-peer support and perform less than profitably.
The aim for every call center training program therefore is to reduce the time to proficiency.
To do this accelerates the return on investment for every new hire and in turn increases overall profitability.
A successful knowledge base for a call center in that case should be used as a tool for cutting short the route to agent proficiency. The key being successfully engaging new agents in utilizing the knowledge base.
“Half of the industry professionals surveyed said they wished their training was more hands-on and engaging. When asked what would make their training more engaging, participants listed role play, scenario-based training, on the job experience, and more interactions with agents.”
Call center training is always best delivered in 3 dimensions. Scenario or role-play based.
It’s largely a relational and consultative job. Problem solving.
Successful encounters are concluded in a solution delivered to the call participant. But the difficulty with the job is – you never quite know what problems you’ll encounter on the call.
Every call is different because every person calling is different. Even callers with identical problems may behave entirely differently, thus presenting unique challenges to agents each time.
But for consistency of outcome, agents must be trained to influence each call and steer it to a satisfactory end.
This takes a certain amount of skill and conversational agility. Thinking on one’s feet.
And the best way to coach agents and bring them up to speed in this area is by taking through situational role play.
It’s the only way to get agents practicing their skills in ‘real-to-life’ encounters and getting comfortable with executing their prescribed responses in the natural flow of conversation.
With enough simulated exercises under their belt, agents ‘in training’ much like when learning to drive, eventually get to a stage with execution where they become competent ‘behind the wheel’, so to speak.
This is the benefit of role play. It sharpens the senses and ‘makes ready’ for the main event.
For your call center knowledge base to be effective at engaging trainee agents, you’ll need to fill it with role plays and scenario-based examples and exercises.
Audio recordings, scripts, training videos – these are some of the media formats that are known to work best at engaging agents.
5. WEB-BASED FOR REMOTE DELIVERY
“Many contact centers have indicated that portions of their training will be remote, and other parts will return to in-person.”
The pandemic changed much of how we expect to operate in the future.
Whilst many operations might have been remote-ready by nature. Others were thrown in at the deep end and were forced to swim.
And now, (as is widely accepted) even despite the worst of the impact being well behind us, many organizations including call centers are embracing a ‘remote first’ training strategy.
It’s important to add that remote training would never entirely replace face-to-face LIVE training, but rather it would give call centers:
- Resilience against unforeseen office closures like future lockdowns, for example
- Ability to engage agents in immersive training outside of the office
Therefore to future-proof your call center knowledge base investment, you should really be considering a native web application that has a track record of performing excellently online. Thinking of both back-end administrative use and front-end users too.
6. LOWER NESTING COSTS
According to industry studies, the average “…nesting costs range from $115,200 – $345,600…” per annum.
So, the reality is, it costs call centers significant proportions of budget, every year, to get agents up to proficiency.
And the lion’s share of the cost is the collective sum of trainee wages (i.e. the unrealised investment of staff overhead). This sits quite apart from the additional costs of hire and training including, trainer salaries, HR, or IT costs.
Couple this cost with the fact that almost half of all agents move roles within the year – training new agents is fraught with massive investment risk too.
But, that said, what are the alternatives?
- Hire fully trained agents
- Experienced agents are hard to find, PLUS they demand higher wages
- You still have to on-board train them to use your systems
- They might still leave anyway
- Compromise on training (train less)
- Poorly trained agents perform poorly
- Customers become dissatisfied
- Unrealised ROI and threatened organizational failure
- Improve training efficiency and effectiveness
- Train to the same standard, or better for less cost
- Shorten time to proficiency
- Engage agents more and improve team wide performance and retention
Of the options above, investment in option (C) would not only reduce your nesting cost burden. But it would also lift the all round proficiency and productivity of your call center teams.
This dual benefit has the potential to add significant value to your bottom line, and at minimal upfront cost.
If you implemented a call center knowledge base for a few hundred dollars. And for a few hundred more in admin time, you tasked senior staff to fill the knowledge base with relevant training content. You might shave off 10% of your nesting time.
In relative cost, this could be as much as $15,000 – $30,000 saved against the training budget & put back into your business.
Add to this a potential uplift in overall staff performance gained by becoming engaged in knowledge sharing – your call center could stand to generate considerable amounts of annual profit from a relatively simple change.
Studies show that the following areas, in order, are the activities that take up the most training time whilst nesting trainees:
#1 Learning how to navigate systems and technologies
#2 How to execute highly complex processes
#3 Learning company/product information/ industry jargon and acronyms
#4 Customer service and soft skills
As seen from the list above, the majority of the training is rooted in hard skills like learning systems, processes and facts.
And as is commonly achieved online in so many technical niches, the long form tutorial format could be the presentation of choice to communicate such items.
With the addition of video tutorials, infographics, podcast audio and other media formats to compliment written text – it is possible to produce quite a rich online training environment. The type that scores highly in engagement and gets results.
As for practically training the soft skills, like customer service manners, hosting a call library is a popular delivery method.
The idea is simple, call recordings are broken down into snippets and suitably tagged within a knowledge base.
As trainee agents seek to bolster their skills in handling a particular scenario of call – they simply search the knowledge base for a solution.
With the right topical tagging with analysis to monitor end-user behavior for improvement, a multi-media knowledge base can be a very effective method of training both hard and soft skills.
8. CONTINUED PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT
Statistics show that as many as “two-thirds” of agents still rely on supervisor interaction for continued development, post-training.
This of course comes at the cost of the supervisor’s availability at set intervals of interaction.
In other words, there is an opportunity cost involved of senior staff delivering continued development sessions to junior staff members.
But is there a way of reducing the impact of this ongoing cost of continued professional development?
And will the alternative be equally as effective?
Actually, in practice, research would suggest that agents are accustomed to receiving development training via a variety of methods, other than by supervisors.
Here is a chart on how agents in industry tend to access continued training:
It seems agents are familiar with learning by video, knowledge base articles, their own notes and manuals – alongside the option of ‘getting in touch’ to ask questions by email or IM.
So, a maximally profitable knowledge base investment would be one in which integration of text, video, note taking, printable PDF pages and enquiry messaging comes in-built.
9. GREATER PRODUCTIVITY & MORE SKILLED DELIVERY
And last of all, there are tangible benefits to be gained for your overall call center performance from investing in a more effective training program. Not just nesting cost related savings.
The overall effect would be to raise the confidence levels of junior and senior agents alike, therefore delivering better overall customer satisfaction.
Want an evidence based view on that?
Here it is…
Currently, the average industry agent confidence looks like this:
- 34.2% Agents are confident, make few if any errors and are able to work independently
- 53.5% Agents are somewhat confident but need assistance from supervisors for more complex scenarios
- 11% Agents can only handle a few simple call types and require assistance from supervisors for all contact scenarios
- 1.3% Agents are overwhelmed after training, and make frequent errors on simple call types when they start taking live calls
As seen from the list above, the majority (in fact) about 63% of all call center agents fall below the optimal proficiency line. Therefore, there are otherwise avoidable errors taking place on calls and great dependence still on supervisor input. Whilst it’s unrealistic to think you could entirely rid yourself of this. It is achievable to positively adjust the balance.
Winning features of a WordPress knowledge base for a call center
First up, why WordPress?
It began as a humble personal publishing platform on May 27, 2003 developed by Matt Mullenweg and Mike Little, built on top of b2 Cafelog (a blogging software).
Now, classified as the market leading content management system – it is the backbone of choice for many development projects ranging ecommerce to ERPs and knowledge bases.
With a $596.7 billion ecosystem of extensions and supporting services like specialist web hosts, WordPress has quickly become the most versatile and most used website making tool the world over.
Suffice to say, WordPress is a popular choice for businesses to build a knowledge base.
It offers a secure, free, open-source supported web solution. The user-friendliness of themes and plugins to avoid development roadblocks. And integration / interoperability to sync in with your most favorite online business apps.
Where WordPress knowledge bases are concerned, there is one outright market leader. And has been for years:
Heroic Knowledge Base.
With over 27,000 customers – Heroic Knowledge Base has made the most of its first mover advantage by snapping up a whole host of big name knowledge base clients from corporations to not-for-profits.
Part of a suite of online customer support products, Heroic Knowledge Base not only solves the problem of a 1st class knowledge repository for WordPress site owners…
…but also competently communicates with the likes of Heroic Inbox, WordPress’s leading shared inbox help desk plugin.
Plus, integrating well with enterprise level SaaS solutions like Slack and Help Scout.
The following is our recommended method for building your own WordPress Knowledge Base:
Directory-style home page with siloed categories: the homepage of your call center knowledge base will offer an A-Z indexed spread of categories, themed around the issues faced by agents day to day. Think of this like the phone book for problem solving within your organization.
Use the Heroic Knowledge Base plugin to intuitively and beautifully array the lead page of your new call center knowledge resource. (Custom control – no coding necessary.)
LIVE Search Bar: getting that match-winning knowledge into the hands (or rather to the fingertips) of your call center agents is critical to performance. So, a knowledge base with tip-top discoverability, findability.
Use the Heroic Knowledge Base plugin for a super suggestive knowledge search keeping your agents constantly brimming with real time solutions to customer queries .
Insights & analytics: every management team should want the flywheel effect. It’s a profit maximiser. Flywheels take naturally occuring movement or energy and convert it into a concentrated, stored up bank of energy that gets released in a controlled manner for maximum results. Analytics is your knowledge base flywheel. Feeding back exactly how the knowledge in your system gets used, identifies knowledge gaps for improvement – literally telling what to write up next.
Use the Heroic Knowledge Base plugin for its internal analytics engine and always keep your knowledge content ahead of the customer learning curve.
Help assistant: accessibility is key to knowledge utilization. After all, you simply can’t make use of something that’s out of your reach. This neat function embeds a mini-knowledge base on every page of your website – so no matter the article an agent is reading, they’re only a search and click away from the follow on.
Use the Heroic Knowledge Base plugin for its embeddable help assistant putting your knowledge resources in convenient reach on every page.
There we have it, nine benefits of using WordPress for a call center knowledge base.
Evidence backed. And with a practical example to implement one of your own.
With this solution, your call center business could drastically reduce its training lead time and therefore, cut back massively on expenses.
It’s a potential ROI winner, if used correctly.
And with a solution like the one above – no code needed – there’s nothing holding you back.
Why not get started today?