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Knowledge Is Power

15th Jun 2015
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I'm a sucker. I know it.

I needed a pair of cycling sunglasses, and the guy in the shop convinced me to by Oakleys. They're not the cheapest, but they're the best. And by God, did he prove it.

He admitted to being an Oakley fanboy, but I have to admit that I was taken aback by his vast knowledge of the Oakley range. He didn't have to refer to a book as he ran through all of the safety aspects, the features of every single pair of sunglasses, the prescription ranges... this man knew his stuff.

In fact, he knew it so much better than a website that if I had a question during my decision process, I would actually pop into town to talk to him first.

Knowledge is power in this consumer landscape. I bought from him - not from his shop, and not from the manufacturer - I bought from him because he knew what he was talking about and he proved it demonstrably. I was prepared to pay a bit extra because I knew that I was buying from someone who knew everything about cycling sunglasses. 

Perhaps a bit too much. But there's a lesson in this for us. If knowledge is power, how do we wield it? We all know that the consumer is empowered more than ever and is seeking knowledge before making a decision - but what can we do to get the most out of our own knowledge and improve the customer / prospect experience?

You have to collect that knowledge somewhere

It's easy with a brain. But when that knowledge is held online, you have to be able to store it in a sensible fashion. And oh, this is so newsworthy. The big boys are investing big money in knowledge "integration" in order to take it beyond the old "knowledge base" days which were oh so very overwhelming.

Nobody ever used knowledgebases because they were seen as a repository for everything - a place to send people so you never had to speak to them.

The point of storing your knowledge is that the right people can get to it at the right time. Not so that you can dump your rubbish in one corner and hope people will go there instead of talking to you.

You have to access it quickly

It's easy with a brain. Again. You know what's relevant, and how to get to it quickly. It's stored in there.

With a knowledge base, you need to be able to access that knowledge base quickly and find what you're looking for in no less than three clicks. It's just like with a website. I've been involved in a healthcare educational project where we needed everything to be findable within two clicks. It's possible, if you think like a user and you build the structure so that everything is intuitive.

And if all else fails, build a search function that works. Tag everything you enter into the knowledgebase so that i can be found through commonly used tags, and make everything easy to see on the screen.

You have to use it wisely

Ah all that knowledge, you have so much of it. It's easy to bore someone with everything you know - it's not so easy to use what you have in context. 

If knowledge really is power, it's the questions you ask that have the most impact - not the answers you give. Knowledge will give you the ability to ask customers the right questions so that you can use your knowledge wisely. Use it like a blunt sword and you risk alienating your user and labelling yourself as a 'knowledge nerd'.

Knowledge is the modern currency. You need a place to keep it, you need to be able to get to it quickly, and you need to spend it wisely. The risk is that you end up either not conveying that knowledge, or conveying the wrong knowledge.

The upside is that you could end up being the absolute reference.

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