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ACCE Insider: Implementing Knowledge Management for Improved Service

This year’s 10th anniversary ACCE event in Seattle was an all-around success – a time to meet new colleagues and gather lots of practical advice about delivering high quality customer service.

I attended Julie Mohr’s (President of Mind the IT Gap) provocative session, in which she challenged customer care managers to manage knowledge, so they can deliver better services. Here are 10 takeaways from Julie’s session.

1. Poor knowledge management practices are costly. Julie shared an estimate that poorly managed knowledge costs Fortune 500 companies $12 million per year. Those costs come from increased contacts, longer calls, and extra training time.

2. Many agents are reluctant to use knowledge resources. Sometimes the knowledgebase (KB) contains out-of-date or hard-to-use information. Sometimes it’s hard to search. If an agent can use Google to find the info she needs, she probably won’t want to use the KB.

3. Knowledge management isn’t about technology; it’s about people.
Because today’s costumers are more connected and more demanding, they want us to do more than serve them; they want us to advocate for and advise them. Support organizations have to hire people who can create and manage knowledge, so they can meet customers’ expectations.

4. Knowledge management practices make calls longer at the start, but shorter over time. Your agents may need an extra two minutes per call to investigate, create, and test the solutions they’ll contribute to the KB.

5. Your staffing model must support knowledge management practices. You’ll need at least one full time Knowledge Manager, and this person should not be an engineer or other subject matter expert.

6. Plan to maintain the knowledge database, so your staff can use the knowledge resources they have created. There’s more to knowledge management than “If you build it, they will come.” You will need to develop data integrity standards, formats for the knowledge so the KB is consistent and easy to use, a relevancy rating for the KB articles, a maintenance plan, and a separate KB for storing old or unused articles. 
7. To measure the quality of knowledge contributed by an agent, measure how often other agents use it. Meaningful quality metrics include the number of solutions (or KB articles) written by one agent that are used by other agents, the number of hits per solution, and the degree of usefulness or relevance of each solution.

8. Plan to measure the outcomes of your knowledge management practices. Your practices should have measurable outcomes, so you should measure their effect on Average Speed of Answer and Average Handle Time and Talk Time. You should also measure how many solutions are created and how many are reused.

9. Measure the quality of the KB content, or solutions, each agent creates. Consider developing a “Solution Quality Index” to measure each agent’s contributions. On the Quality Index, you can capture how many solutions an agent contributes, whether the solution is appropriate for the audience who will use it, whether it uses hyperlinks well, whether it duplicates an existing solution, etc.

10. Managed knowledge can be pushed out to the customer community. When a support organization has a well-managed internal process for gathering and vetting information, it can share that information with customers, and it can incorporate customer-created knowledge into the KB.