Beyond the Script: The Role of Knowledge Curators in a Modern Contact Center

Nate Brown

February 27, 20245 min read

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Transforming service roles to "Knowledge Curators" empowers workers, fosters generosity, and leverages digital tools for efficient knowledge sharing. Leaders benefit from talent retention, improved service quality, and the ability to embrace technological advancements. In this article, Nate Brown, CX thought leader explains how this evolution unlocks numerous positive impacts for both employees and customers. 

Agent. Customer Service Rep. Tech Support. 

There are so many connotations circling these roles, many of them negative. It’s not a job title many folks dream about as kids. People often consider it a stepping stone into a “real” job. Far too many organizations treat these roles as if they were a completely different (and lower) category of employee. 

Those who have served in these jobs (and customer-centric leaders) know the truth. Customer Service work is vital and challenging. The authentic culture of an organization can so often be revealed by its mentality towards these functions. If the business is serious about serving the world through its brand promise, it will place significant priority on the function responsible for protecting the integrity of this promise. 

Sadly, we are fighting against decades of legacy perception. Customer service workers (historically) have been placed in a very tight box. Take these tickets. Read this script. Ignore that problem that’s been there for years. The job can be suffocating. 

These service workers are capable of so much more. It’s time we free ourselves of the legacy connotations that have developed and embraced the true nature of service work today. After all, the work itself has changed tremendously over the past ten years and will continue to do so. 

It may start with using a different and better language. The dictionary definition of “agent” is as follows: “A person or thing that takes an active role or produces a specified effect.” 

What is the “specified effect” most organizations seek from their agents? Typically, “it’s made this service ticket go away.” Reactive. Not strategic. Induces quick burnout among top talent. 

We can become so focused on maintaining an elevated Customer Satisfaction metric that we force an overbearing formula upon everyday interactions. Meanwhile, about other roles across the business, we embrace and celebrate mentalities like this famous Steve Jobs saying: 
”It doesn't make sense to hire smart people and then tell them what to do. We hire smart people so they can tell us what to do.” – Steve Jobs 

Folks, this applies to Customer Service workers as well. Agents often know more about the true nature of the customer and the business than anyone else. They learn how to speak a new language and do it fluently. It’s the language of the customer. They have the gift and knowledge to reach into the subtext and understand the customer’s needs. 

As if this was not enough, they marry this knowledge with an intimate understanding of the business and its services. This is the only way they can solve the big problems that have stumped everyone upstream in the journey. Should we not provide these remarkable individuals with greater autonomy?  

It feels to me like the title of “Agent” does not effectively capture the nature of this interaction. Perhaps a term such as “Knowledge Curator” is a better fit. 

When I think about the role of a knowledge curator in the context of a service center, the following responsibilities come to mind: 

  • Seeks to establish an intimate understanding of the customer and their evolving needs 

  • Effectively shares knowledge acquired through customer understanding with the rest of the organization, making everyone smarter with each service interaction 

  • Helps to curate the pathways to knowledge for effective and accelerated sharing 

  • Creatively embraces their role as the personification of the Voice of the Customer, helping to connect employees across the organization to the Customer Experience effort 

  • Helps to solve friction points upstream in the customer journey, making the overall experience better for everyone 

How cool is this JOB! 

Even though my title for years was “Customer Service Specialist”, I’m so fortunate to be given the autonomy to do amazing things like this. It caused me to fall in love with customer service at 24. And here I am 15 years later, still in love with work and still thrilled about my chosen career. No stepping stone to another function here. It’s been a beautiful and complex puzzle performed in service to others. I’m in it for life. 

As leaders, we have the power to give this gift of meaningful work to our people. All it requires is to shift our thinking, create the right environment, and bring in talent that we trust to do amazing things. And when we give a gift like this to our people, guess who else benefits greatly? The customer. 

A big part of “create the right environment” is the digital tools we use. For a Knowledge Curator to be influential, the channels must be in place to share information across the department in real-time. Information can flow through like oxygen when the right technology is there to support. Each customer conversation is an opportunity to enhance the centralized knowledge unit making everyone faster and smarter for future service interactions. 

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 But tools are only half of the battle. Just because service workers can share knowledge does not mean they will. Anyone who has worked in a contact center knows how selfish people can be. Knowledge is power and if there is a culture of self-preservation people will hoard it. Great leaders foster a culture of generosity when it comes to knowledge. They reinforce the significant behaviors of an influential information curator. This reaches far beyond who has the best agent satisfaction rating, asking instead who is making the entire team better at their jobs. 

The move to knowledge curator is a natural evolution of the traditional Customer Service role. Leaders with the foresight and courage to make this jump will open the door to countless possibilities. Top talent, now fully engaged and appropriately challenged, will be retained. Service quality and efficiency will surge as each customer interaction becomes a push forward. The team will be equipped to fully leverage recent technological advancements in the service space. 

It can certainly be scary to challenge the status quo and view our agents so differently. But when you consider all the positive impacts on your employees and the customer, this is a leap worth making! 

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