Why is a knowledge management system crucial for your employees?

Digital services organizations that have the best customer support have always relied on their team members’ fast reactions and encyclopedic knowledge to assist customers. But as digital search has become more advanced, pressure has increased on these types of employees to learn and retain more information in order to keep up. 

When it comes to knowledge management tools, what customer support teams need is a kind of second brain. A hive mind, if you will, from which every bit of useful data can be quickly pulled up and utilized by employees, in the same way as they might draw out key facts from their memory.  

A hive mind — easy access to all available data — is akin to a knowledge management system (KMS). 

What is a knowledge management system?

In its most basic form, a knowledge management system stores and allows for efficient retrieval of information that can be useful for employees. This type of information might include onboarding instructions, training manuals, technical material available to help customers (such as bug descriptions in tech-support forums), collaboration details, and process-improvement guidance. The purpose of a KMS is to quickly present relevant information to individuals who need it in real time.

“Knowledge management system” is a broad term that covers many types of knowledge, and in all of its forms: explicit knowledge, implicit knowledge, and tacit knowledge. Any knowledge-management software that can identify, store, organize, and retrieve the right knowledge can be considered a KMS. Your organization’s customer relationship management system (CRM), document management system, and internal knowledge base —  even your sales and marketing content management system (CMS) — can be considered types of knowledge management systems.

Knowledge management as a customer satisfaction tool

What’s an example of effective knowledge management? 

Abaan is a customer support agent at a high-tech company. He’s talking with a customer, Lynn, who’s expressing interest in one of the more obscure products. He’s relatively new to the role and hasn’t learned much about the product. So he quickly turns to the company’s knowledge management system, which he can easily search for specifications on the product and then be able to give the customer accurate, timely details and advice to help with her decision making.

 Effective knowledge management requires great search

 Unfortunately for many organizations, the search capabilities needed for optimal knowledge management simply aren’t there. Poorly designed or outdated search functionality means disconnected data silos and an inability for employees to get the information they need, putting the hard work that teams have done to waste. 

A knowledge management system with centralized, first-rate search pulls together the content of all of a company’s data silos. Your support teams can use it to effectively aid customers, which can lead to:

Greater productivity

Are your employees pulling data from too many silos? 

With one central location for accessing your organization’s various knowledge, employees can retrieve everything they need in order to successfully do their jobs. A good centralized knowledge management system pulls together data from all information sources in your network — cloud storage, CMSes, CRMs, databases, and more. 

Whether they’re closing deals, addressing customer issues, or upselling, employees can access all helpful content in one place, saving them considerable time and hassle in answering customer questions. This can also reduce delays that might occur, for example, when employees must get information from “knowledge gatekeepers,” people who exclusively know or have access to particular material.

Higher employee job satisfaction

Spending less time chasing down vital information and performing manual tasks frees up employees to do more rewarding, high-value work, such as providing excellent customer service. Plus, more-fulfilling work experiences lead to higher retention rates, and happier, more engaged employees are more likely to proactively utilize their organization’s knowledge management system.

More flexibility for working remotely

With a single-source-of-truth KMS, your teams can access the data they need securely, whether they’re in the office, at home, traveling, or even temporarily living in some other country. There’s no question that providing employees with global access to knowledge-sharing resources levels the playing field for remote (and hybrid) workers.

Better overall organizational performance

Every part of your organization can likely benefit from investment in a knowledge management system. You can use it to streamline general processes, thereby reducing bottlenecks, for instance, around a limited number of employees with specific skills or less-experienced employees unable to carry out tasks. 

You can also reduce the headaches of people not being able to find important data in cloud sprawl and having to navigate a sea of poorly managed files. With a knowledge management system logically storing data in a streamlined, secure environment, it’s easy to surface that data when it’s needed and ensure enterprise workplace search efficiency.

How to implement a winning knowledge management system

To optimally implement a central KMS for your organizational knowledge, you’ll need to consider where all of your various data resides and how your employees typically access it. When you understand the workflow of how your employees get ahold of your data, you then need to decide how to build your knowledge management system. 

There are two approaches to creating a knowledge management solution: 

  • Build a custom internal search engine with the help of a developer or development team
  • Use a premade, customizable search API created by industry experts

In the past decade, having a dev team build your KMS search engine would have been the only feasible approach, but as low- to no-code technology has improved, advanced enterprise search for knowledge management systems has become more achievable, and affordable. 

In addition, the process of building a custom search engine can be time consuming and expensive. Although it does guarantee you fully tailored search functionality and a high degree of control, your set-up and running costs will be high. You’ll need to budget for web hosting and developer support to keep the knowledge base software secure and up to date, or potentially deal with problems. Also, optimization of your search algorithm could require considerable time and resources. 

A premade search API is cheaper to set up and run, and it can help you create a high-quality knowledge management process. Top-end search APIs not only act as advanced central KMSes, they can use your organization’s data to improve the online customer experience, too. 

Build a better KMS with Algolia enterprise search

Algolia’s enterprise search technology can expertly tie together the loose ends of your knowledge management system, creating a single touchpoint that provides access to all the data your employees need and giving your company a competitive advantage. You can:

  • Centralize the search experience. No more needing to dig through multiple individual silos. You provide a single search bar for network files, databases, CRMs, CMSes, knowledge bases, note-taking programs, and more
  • Get your solution up and running fast with proven search algorithms, integrations, and UI libraries 
  • Pay as you scale with a flexible-cost plan that meets your organization’s budget needs

Find out more about our enterprise search and how it can make your knowledge management system better for your employees.

Want to see a demo of Algolia in action? Let us know and we’ll set that up ASAP.

About the authorVincent Caruana

Vincent Caruana

Senior Digital Marketing Manager, SEO

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