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21 Questions: Knowledge Centered Support Webinar Wrap-Up

On April 25th, many of our community members tuned in for a webinar led by Paul Jay (Founder & Director, Best Practice Establishment), Nav Chakravarth (Vice President, Oracle Knowledge Product Management), and Monique Cadena (Knowledge Centered Support Manager, Avaya).  It was a lively discussion around the keys to KCS.  In case you missed it, or would like a refresher, you can view the webinar here.

Since we received so many awesome questions, during and following the event, we’ve decided to provide a recap.  Don’t see the answer to your question here, or have a new question?  Feel free to continue the discussion in the comments below.

Question #1: Are Oracle Solutions scalable to a small contact center? (i.e. 35 agents)

Nav Chakravarti: Oracle is unique in having a range of offerings for Knowledge Management that scale from smaller contact centers with 30 agents to over tens of thousands of agents. Please contact us with additional information more details or relevant case studies.

Question #2: Is Oracle verified?

Nav Chakravarti: Yes, Oracle Knowledge is KCS v4 verified and is pursuing KCS v5 verification.

Question #3:  We have a very basic KCS solution. We use the Oracle CRM "Solutions" module. What's the best way to publish some of this externally on our corporate/brand websites?

Nav Chakravarti: Oracle has a number of CRM products, and they each offer some basic knowledge capability. For example, Siebel CRM includes the 'Solutions' module which allows customers to define product as well as service solutions and promote them as 'Resolutions'. However, there are some limitations with such solutions, namely :

  • They are closed (within CRM database),
  • They are CRM-centric instead of knowledge-centric
  • They offer limited content management and search functions
  • They depend on native CRM application's ability to deliver knowledge.

In Siebel CRM's case, the 'Solutions' are embedded within Siebel data-model and could be exposed via web-services to external portal by building custom portlets to expose it. 

Question #4: How is reuse measured, when customers don't let you know if their problem is solved in self-service?

Monique Cadena: Internally we can measure it via "linking existing or modified content" to cases.  In addition there is a star rating system that does let users (Internal and External) rate up to 5 stars meaning "Solved my issue".  Externally however industry trends show less than 3% of customers ever "rate" content.  To help give us an idea of customer success we use a assumed deflection model, where one customer success is assumed for "x" external views.  In addition you can also do some click stream analysis that will give you some ideas on whether or not customers are finding the answers they are looking for.

Question #5: How is content kept up to date? Wiki? Or reviewed somehow?

Monique Cadena: The KCS Practice of "Fix it or Flag it" - Each view is a review and all users are collectively responsible for the content - the knowledge base is our collective experience to date.  In our Oracle Knowledge environment we gave all authors  publishing permissions and so they can immediately update and publish content if they have the knowledge to do so; if they do not posses the knowledge to fix it, they may flag it for the original author to make improvements.

Question #6: Did you offer any incentives to use the search knowledge features?

Monique Cadena: Incentives include Engineer benefits such as reduced labor time, and working only new issues.  We also measure proficiency growth and recognize users who complete the KCS proficiency path or make notable improvements.

Question #7: Do you have dedicated staff for knowledge management?

Monique Cadena:Yes, we have a KCS Program team that manages the program with the aid of KCS Advocates and support from our leadership team.

Paul Jay: I recommend having a dedicated Knowledge Manager / KCS Process owner. I like this role to be part of the Service Management Office (SMO). The KCS process will  then championed by a number of KCS Coaches within the support organisation.

Question #8: How did the KCS most impact the Avaya engineers? Was there a big shift in employee engagement?

Monique Cadena: Yes, once engineers understood the "benefits - positive impacts" to their workloads they were more willing to participate or engage.   Some benefits include: reduced escalations, reduced direct labor per case, reduced repeat issues, the ability to publish demand content in a timely manner and the opportunity to identify others working on similar issues (opening the door for collaboration)

Question # 9: How do you support this system while at the same time integrating the most recent information in training for new hires?

Monique Cadena: There are two methods that help us deliver proper training. 

1: On boarding of new associates who request access must go through the online training and content standard training (which is kept up to date), before publishing permissions are granted. 

2:  The role of KCS Coach is key in working with each users to ensure they truly understand the proper processes and KCS techniques.

Question #10: I see an important challenge in how the agent will find the information other agents have posted? How do you make it more efficient?

Monique Cadena: There are two main contributors to this: 

1. We follow the KCS Best Practice of capturing both the customer context (customer words), and the employee clarification (employee words).  Both items are also areas for improvement in the "flag it or fix it" process where users can enhance an article by adding newly discovered symptoms or interpretations of the issues. 

2.  Our search engine uses a company specific dictionary, as well as a "high tech" dictionary that correlates synonyms to match content for the varying queries.  For example, searching for "Find IP address" will return the same results as searching for "Find Internet Protocol address".  It is important to test search accuracy at least twice a year as well as add new concepts as they are discovered.

Question #11: Is there a reason Avaya's indexer only runs every 12/24 hours? Was that a conscious choice?

Monique Cadena:This is due to the size and amount of our content.  Our content size has been identified as unusually large, so the time it takes for our content to index completely and restart - our size allows us to run an index twice a day (Oracle Knowledge index).  Our external index is yet another system which picks up the KB content in addition to other support content once every 24 hours.

Question #12: Is search for knowledge combined with search for content of manuals? Or separate?

Monique Cadena: Product documentation/manuals are combined with the indexing of native KB articles.

 Question #13: What is your overall % of cases with linked articles?

Monique Cadena:Teams within the program are at 95% linking or higher.


Question #14: What was the trend in AHT or ACW for knowledge creation during your KCS adoption roadmap?

Monique Cadena: As expected with a KCS adoption, during initial learning the AHT slightly increased and then curved down as users became more proficient.  Times fluctuate but overall direct labor continues to decrease across the board.

Question #15: With so many people publishing, how do you guarantee quality of materials published?

Jay Paul: All authors follow the Content Standard (Publishing Guidelines) when writing articles.  KCS Coaches then perform weekly random audits using an AQI (Article Quality Index) score sheet.  The scores help identify training opportunities for that employee (which the KCS Coach can then assist them with).

Question #16: Can you share some ideas on the topic of content standards, i.e. entering issues/errors, causes and resolution?

Jay Paul:The content standards cover a large part of KCS, but it has its dependency on:

1. Content Health | Article Structure (Page 37 of the KCS Practices Guide V5.3)
2. Content Health | Content Standard (Page 50 of the KCS Practices Guide v5.3)
3. Content Health | KCS Article Quality (Page 51 of the KCS Practices Guide v5.3)
Here are the specific elements to look for in a good content standard:

  • Quick Reference Guide—documents KCS article quality criteria in a one page sheet that can be kept on an Analyst’s desk
  • KCS article Structure Definitions—list of basic elements with definitions including problem, resolution, cause, and metadata
  • Good and Bad KCS article Examples—measured against the above criteria
  • Metadata Definitions—what metadata should be set and how they should be used
  • Life Cycle States – as defined in Technique 2
  • Visibility Matrix—who gets to see what when (at what state)
  • Templates—list of templates available and directions for completing them
  • Style Guide—design direction that emphasizes usability over format
  • Supporting Material—format for references and links
  • Vocabulary—preferred terms for the potential audiences’ levels of expertise, voice, standards for environment statements; platforms, product names, releases and versions; supports trademark protection
  • Multi-language Considerations—do KCS articles need to be captured or translated for multiple audiences? What languages? What are the guidelines for Global English that may simplify machine or manual translations?

Question #17: Do you have any fun practices that entice agents to update KCS articles?       

Jay Paul: There are different ways to ‘Gamify’ KCS, it first involves having a fair and balanced weighting system, Integrated knowledge and Incident Toolsets, including well defined and trustworthy reports.  It’s important to avoid promoting specific knowledge activities which may drive the wrong behaviours and end up delivering undesirable outcomes.

Everything we do must center around Customer Success and Satisfaction. When there is a fair weighting system, each organisation can use their creativity to develop a reward and recognition program suitable to their own environment (Private sector is very different from public (government) sector organizations).

One large financial services company agreed on the metrics, behaviours and weightings and ended up having a report/dashboard that would be reviewed every week at their team meeting each Friday afternoon. They invented a game called ‘who’s the joker’ where they would identify 5 high knowledge contributors and 5 poor knowledge contributors. They would play a game of cards against each other. The top performers would play off for a prize (spinning wheel options) and would be labelled ‘Knowledge ACE’ and the bottom performers would play off for allocated knowledgebase cleaning time and be labelled ‘Knowledge Joker’. It was a lot of fun, and the team would get so loud, you had to give up working on the floor until their meeting was over.

Question #18: Don't most successful knowledge bases have a dedicated person managing the content? I can't get a budget for that person! Can we still be successful without this dedicated personnel?    

Jay Paul: The definition of ‘successful’ here is key. Most instances of knowledge bases where there are dedicated individuals managing the content fail, due to single point sensitivity, workflow  bottlenecks, slow availability times, and out dated information. It’s no good having perfect pristine knowledge if it’s stuck in someone’s in-tray, out of date, unsearchable and un-findable.

Knowledge must be accessible on demand and updated on demand to stay current and fresh.

Question #19: What quality criteria are used for articles?

Jay Paul: There are two quality criteria that I insist on measuring.

  1. Adherence to KCS process in light of the incident management process:

Some of the criteria we audit are:

  • Was knowledge linked to the incident (Link new, link current)
  • Was the Searching linking and/or Creation Link performed in the same time period in which the incident record was opened (Assuming it was taken via phone)
  • The KA linked is relevant to the incident
  • Was the KA rated during the Incident process.
  • KA content was applied (did not just link and escalate)
  • Avoid Duplicate 


2. Adherence to the KCS Content Standards agreed in the Article Quality Index:

Some of the criteria we audit are:

  • Complete thoughts not sentences (Exact Error message, Brief Question or Symptom)
  • No Customer or Site specific details
  • Correct Knowledge Status Applied
  • Correct Meta data (Product, CI, Service, Query Code etc..)
  • Valid Hyperlinks

Question #20: : Is there a methodology or software to build these knowledge base but for other uses, for example to solve problems inside the organization? I work in a logistics company and we have problems that repeat it.

Jay Paul:This is a very hard question to answer without more context, but the general answer is yes. Remember the key to KCS it tight integration into your daily workflow and your technology. If you work with logistics you must have some sort of work practices you perform each day, and likewise would likely be using a system to manage your work requests. If this is so, then the same process and tools should be used to capture knowledge. There are many dependencies on the tools you use. Many knowledge management systems have the capability to plug into systems using standard APIs. 

Question #21: What's the best way to create both an internal KCS for employees and an externally facing KCS for customers?    

Jay Paul: It’s best to build your KCS solution internally and then funnel knowledge to external customers via self-help. After about 9 – 12 months your support organisation should have captured about 80% of all of the questions you will receive on a regular basis. Then using demand and reuse metrics you can then, with the help of trained KCS publishers, publish highly used KCS articles to customers via self-service. This approach is covered in details in the KCS Adoption Phases (Phase 4: Leverage).