• November 1, 2016
  • By Leonard Klie, Editor, CRM magazine and SmartCustomerService.com

Make CRM Smarter

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Transversal has created plug-ins that tie its Prescience KM product into CRM systems from SAP, Salesforce.com, Genesys, Intelecom, Infinity CCS, Klick2Contact, and others.

RightAnswers, another KM vendor, integrates with ServiceNow, Salesforce.com, NetSuite, BMC, Heat, Microsoft Dynamics, LivePerson, and several other case management or ticketing systems, letting support agents search for and attach knowledge to cases or tickets on the same screen.

RightAnswers’ Integration Framework does more than just link to agents’ systems. It’s a pre-packaged connector into many other types of software, including interactive voice response systems, chat platforms, and collaboration tools like Yammer, Jive, SharePoint, Jira, and Confluence. On its website, the company calls its Integration Framework “the glue that creates an uninterrupted flow of knowledge throughout your enterprise, for all audiences.”


But despite efforts by CRM and KM vendors to bring their systems together, the integrations never really took shape at most end-user companies. Many companies still have not attained any level of deep integration that ties their knowledge base activity (at either the agent or self-service levels) to any other customer records.

“Companies have not adopted [unified KM and CRM solutions] as much as they should,” Petriv says. “At most companies, KM documents are still stored locally and not connected to anything else.”

And technology isn’t even the biggest hurdle. More often, existing business structures and jurisdictional issues are the root of the problem. Efforts have been blocked by a complete lack of cooperation from the parts of the company responsible for maintaining the data.

It’s understandable. Companies today are “drowning in data,” Foley says, noting that knowledge management is just one more layer on top of an already complex corporate data stack that is growing exponentially every day.

For even the most experienced data professionals, organizing all of that data is no easy task, according to experts. “For KM to work with CRM, there has to be one master database of knowledge or content. Unless someone has taken it upon themselves to make a master database of all company knowledge, there are lots of places where it could be stored,” Petouhoff says.

Additionally, some of the best company knowledge “is stored in people’s heads,” she adds. “There has to be a way of getting it documented.”

And even if companies can pull all of that content into one central repository, then they need “really amazing natural language search capabilities to be able to pull out the contextually relevant information to answer the [customer’s] question,” Petouhoff says.


New technologies are not only making it possible to find and extract the right information at the right time, but they are making KM more useful and intuitive for users. “KM technology has changed with cognitive solutions and anticipatory knowledge services,” said Chris Hall, chief marketing officer at Transversal, during a recent webinar.

His company’s Prescience product is a cognitive knowledge platform that understands what people search for, anticipates what they will need next, and improves through continued use. The Memory Engine inside Prescience provides full semantic understanding of the meaning of search requests to significantly increase search accuracy in comparison to traditional keyword and natural language search technologies.

According to Transversal’s data, the cognitive element has enabled Prescience users to reduce average call handling times by 14 percent, increase first-contact resolutions by 15 percent, and cut web self-service escalations by 20 to 40 percent.

Modern KM and CRM tools have also made it easier for users to set up, maintain, and share rules, permissions, dashboards, and other elements more easily across systems, Foley says. “It’s all very straightforward now,” he states.

As an example, he notes that content can be flagged for external or internal use only, to protect data that companies might not necessarily want their customers or certain employees to see.

Rajeev Venket, senior director of solutions marketing at Verint Systems, says advanced analytics have also made KM more broadly available to the contact center and beyond.

“Speech analytics can surface a number of knowledge-related issues,” he says. “It can identify gaps [during phone calls] when agents might be struggling to find content.”

Speech analytics can, for example, isolate calls with long hold or handling times, ones in which agents might be spending longer than usual scouring the company knowledge base for an answer to the customer’s question, he says.

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