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What You Should Know About AI and Knowledge Management in the Contact Center

As artificial intelligence (AI) continues its meteoric rise, the role of knowledge management (KM) in contact centers is gaining prominence like never before. Knowledge and knowledge management platforms are key building blocks for AI systems and applications such as customer self-service, agent assistance, chatbots, virtual agents, and many more. AI, bots, and automation depend on having the correct knowledge to extract in context with task flows or queries, and that knowledge is stored in knowledge bases. Getting to that knowledge is the challenge.

Knowledge management platforms help businesses store, organize, access and share knowledge with agents to help them better serve customers. This knowledge can include product information, customer support best practices, and company policies.

More than just a static repository of information, a knowledge management platform is a system that captures, stores, organizes, and retrieves knowledge. “Knowledge” encompasses a wide range of content, such as articles, videos, FAQs, and more, sourced both internally and externally. These systems help to ensure consistency, with a “single source of truth” for information.

Knowledge management platforms typically include a knowledge base, which is a searchable repository of knowledge articles, FAQs, and other resources that agents can use to answer customer questions. The knowledge management platform also has reporting and analytics to help businesses track the usage of their knowledge management platform and measure its impact on customer satisfaction and agent productivity.

More recently, these platforms have added agent assist tools that provide agents with access to knowledge bases, customer profiles, and other information while they are on a call or chat; the knowledge management platforms have also added self-service portals where customers can access knowledge bases and other resources to resolve their own issues.

Knowledge management platforms can be used in a number of ways. For example, agents can use a knowledge base article to learn how to troubleshoot a common customer issue, or use an agent assist tool to provide answers to a customer inquiry while on a call.

Some key knowledge management features include efficient search capabilities, tools for content creation and updates, and analytics tools for tracking performance. By consolidating knowledge from various systems to make it easily accessible, KM systems reduce the time it takes agents to research information and respond to customer inquiries. Agents don’t need to navigate different databases for information; they can access knowledge directly from their desktop screens, helping to better assist customers.

Initially developed to support agents assisting customers, KM solutions are increasingly being used to assist customers directly, providing improved self service capabilities and eliminating or reducing the need to speak with an agent for assistance.

AI is playing an increasingly important role in knowledge management. AI-powered search engines can understand the meaning of customer questions and return the most relevant knowledge base articles or help agents find the information they need more quickly to provide customers with faster and more accurate answers. With generative AI, knowledge management systems can generate new knowledge base articles, FAQs, and other resources based on existing content, helping businesses keep their knowledge base up-to-date and to provide agents and customers with the information they need more quickly.

Vendor Offerings

Leading KM vendors include Bloomfire, eGain, NICE, Puzzel, and Verint. These vendors offer KM solutions that seamlessly integrate with CCaaS offerings to create complete solutions. Recently, several vendors have leveraged generative AI capabilities, producing more conversational and understandable information to both agents and customers.

There’s no shortage of options for knowledge management offerings. Here are some of the leading vendors in the contact center space.

  • eGain's Knowledge Hub, part of its Customer Engagement Platform, supports various eGain offerings such as Virtual Assistant, self-service, Agent Assist, and Instant Answers. eGain provides out-of-the-box pre-built connectors for a number of vendor partners, in addition to APIs for custom integrations. The new eGain Instant Answers uses large language models (LLMs) that have been trained for enterprise-specific content to enable users to search enterprise knowledge bases to find relevant answer “snippets” of information to present.

    eGain just released AssistGPT, an integral part of the eGain Knowledge Hub that is powered by Generative AI to provide a zero-code solution for Knowledge Automation. It helps create knowledge content and process guidance, can generate responses for agents, among many other things, and comes with an out-of-the-box prompt library.

  • Salesforce Data Cloud ingests customer data from external systems and harmonizes it with Salesforce data to a single customer profile to be used for more personalized and relevant experiences. The single customer profiles can be used across Salesforce’s Service Cloud, Marketing Cloud, Commerce Cloud and Sales Cloud offerings. Salesforce layers generative AI onto Service Cloud Einstein and Customer 360 to automatically generate personalized responses for agents to share with customers

    Einstein Service Replies are grounded in knowledge and conversation history, enabling personalized agent chat replies to be automatically generated, reducing the time to create knowledge and making it easier to keep articles up to date. Einstein will also be able to auto-generate knowledge articles for evaluation based on successful customer conversation transcripts (currently in pilot).

  • Verint's Knowledge Management can be used for human and bot self- service, as well as by agents for real-time assistance. Verint’s knowledge platform uses AI-infused search technology to automatically surface information across all channels in real time, creating a more automated, natural and effective way to connect people to answers. Knowledge is embedded into agent desktops to drive real-time knowledge through digital channels. Knowledge evolves in real time alongside digital channel or voice interactions. Verint works with several CCaaS vendors and provides out-of-the-box adaptors and APIs for Avaya, Five9, and others.

Most of the contact center/CCaaS vendors have integration partnerships with KM vendors. For example:

  • Avaya primarily partners with Verint, and also has connectors to eGain and others
  • Cisco partners with eGain, Verint, and Google
  • Five9 provides connectors to eGain, Shelf, Google, IBM, etc.

As many organizations prefer reducing the number of vendors used, the trend toward single suite solutions with increased functionality has led CCaaS providers to integrate KM capabilities into their portfolios. Several CCaaS vendors have introduced their own KM capabilities:

  • Genesys added its own Genesys Knowledge solution, providing knowledge capabilities for digital, voice, multichannel, and employees/agents. Genesys Knowledge is channel agnostic and surfaces contextual, intent-driven knowledge to customers and agents with AI-based semantic search. It provides tools for content authors to consolidate, edit, organize, and deliver knowledge, along with automatic insights for knowledge effectiveness and usage.
  • NICE offers CXone Expert, a cloud-based knowledge management solution that is part of the CXone cloud platform. CXone Expert provides AI-powered self-service and agent-assisted CX services. Leveraging NICE Enlighten AI models plus organization-specific data, CXone Expert meets customers at the start of their journey or their point of need, enhancing self-service experiences with product and service knowledge and content. Recent enhancements include Instant Translation capabilities, support for 71 languages, as well as the integration of CXone Expert with OpenAI's generative modeling used in ChatGPT to provide information in a human-like, easy-to-understand way. CXone Expert creates unique conversational AI models to provide self-service responses that are optimized for consumer understanding. It can learn from past interactions, making it more accurate and effective over time.
  • Talkdesk offers Talkdesk Knowledge Management as part of its single suite solution. Talkdesk Knowledge Management manages information scattered across different locations by connecting multiple third-party platforms such as Salesforce, Confluence, Zendesk, and others. It uses AI-powered semantic search techniques to deliver contextual knowledge to agents through Talkdesk Agent Assist.

The Future of Knowledge Management in Contact Centers

In the era of AI and digital transformation, knowledge management's role in contact centers has never been more critical. It empowers agents and improves agent effectiveness, while also enhancing customer self-service experiences. With the addition of generative AI and LLMs, knowledge management's potential will continue to gain strength.

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This post is written on behalf of BCStrategies, an industry resource for enterprises, vendors, system integrators, and anyone interested in the growing business communications arena. A supplier of objective information on business communications, BCStrategies is supported by an alliance of leading communication industry advisors, analysts, and consultants who have worked in the various segments of the dynamic business communications market.