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Utilities Can Benefit From Knowledge Management Systems

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Karen Marcus's picture
Freelance Energy and Technology Researcher and Writer Final Draft Communications, LLC

In addition to serving as an Energy Central Community Manager, Karen Marcus has 25 years of experience as a content developer within the energy and technology industries. She has worked with...

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Knowledge management systems are electronic solutions that store data and enable utility workers or customers to search for and display information they need. The data can be in the form of articles, FAQs, community forums, case studies, webinars, or video tutorials. Such systems combine two initiatives many utilities are already involved in: improving the customer experience (CX) and implementing digital transformation.

Improved CX is especially important in an age when other industries are using a customer-centric approach and giving customers a range of self-help options. Access to knowledge internally supports this effort as well and provides decision makers and team members with the information needed to make smart choices. The sections below describe how knowledge management systems can support the effort to optimize CX, and bolster decision-making capabilities within utilities.

Customer Care

A knowledge management system can give customers a convenient way to manage their utility services. Examples of knowledge management content include the following.

  • Articles for residential customers about ways to improve energy efficiency
  • Case studies for business customers explaining how other companies have built energy-efficient offices
  • Videos showing how to install products like smart thermostats
  • FAQs about how to initiate or change service
  • Live, interactive outage maps
  • A detailed list of ways to access customer care if additional help or information is needed

Internal Research

Employees can benefit from a robust knowledge base as well. The following are examples of information that can help move a utility in the right direction.

  • Detailed customer information can serve as a foundation for providing proactive care, including sending notifications about specific services based on past activity.
  • Tutorials can help new employees onboard without extensive time spent with busy team members. Such lessons can be especially helpful to crews if they are able to access them while in the field.
  • Information about products and services can help team members become more knowledgeable and better able to help customers determine which ones to use.
  • Each department can have data regarding its specific functions. For example, marketing may have reports about past promotional campaign performance, which can help determine the most impactful platforms to use in the future.

The right knowledge management system is important, as is system maintenance. For example, team members familiar with the audience (customers or staff) must determine what information would be useful for them to know. Information that can be helpful in this effort includes lists of the most frequently raised questions, problems, and issues that arise from customer care channels, interactions on social media, and Google Analytics.

Team members should organize the system in a way that makes sense to the group that will be using it. Examples include by service, customer segment (i.e., residential or business), or by learning material type, such as FAQs, videos, and so on.

Finally, team members should monitor use, through satisfaction surveys or metrics such as time on page, to find out which content is accessed the most and is the highest rated. They can use that information to update the system accordingly.

Does your utility use a knowledge management system? If so, how does it contribute to your utility’s success? Please share in the comments.

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