How can you use knowledge to better support your customers and how would you know if you were successful in achieving that goal?
In this article, I am sharing some of the graphically captured insights and messages Heather drew during my "10 Knowledge Management Best Practices That Lead to Success" presentation at ICMI Contact Center Expo in Orlando. To create my presentation, I drew on inspiration from my current role. The mantra "you can't manage, what you can't measure" inspired our team to create a Knowledge Management Strategy (establish targets), assess our current operation (benchmark) and build our KM Action Plan (gap analysis). As we determined our success measures, we committed to targeting Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) measuring our continuous improvement opportunity versus our achieved progress by comparing our baseline (beginning) against our actual (current).
In the beginning, we faced resistance and hesitance in implementing Knowledge Management (KM). I challenged the leadership team to adopt a principle that knowledge was not an option, but a core and critical process of our operational responsibility. We agreed that KM needed to be a daily operational practice for our team. We would ensure the required integration of our tools and methods in performing Incident and Request Management. We decided that when knowledge was done right, it would serve as a noticeable customer service differentiator (improving quality, speed, accuracy, consistency and customer satisfaction). We were introduced to Knowledge Centered Support (KCS) practices by HDI and thus began our focus on searching the Knowledge Base (KB) all the time and Using, Flagging, Fixing, and Adding (UFFA) knowledge articles (KAs) into our "single source of truth" KB.
Utilizing KM in operational practice is very different than the technical KM documentation. We knew we needed to change our cultural perspective and our performance expectations. We thought carefully about our people, processes, tools and what sustained success looked like (our measures). We got serious about creating a culture of knowledge. We set out to foster a culture of "never arrive," where expectations were always focused on never settling and always looking for what else we could do to improve. There was no project management checklist because were never 'done.' We were in constant pursuit of follow-up, communication, documentation, surveys, gap analysis, voice of the customer workshops, and identifying and completing action around continuous improvement and enhancement of services.
UFFA became an integral part of our IT vocabulary, and we reminded our team daily to make it operational:
Our decision to exclude policies, processes, and procedures (e.g., Run Books, SOPs, etc.) from our KB made a tremendous impact. Our intent was not to clutter the KB with documents not explicitly created with a purpose of achieving a First Contact Resolution (FCR). We were not building a KB focused on the number of records, but rather a KB with quality, purposeful, and relevant material. It was critical for our Tier-2 and Tier-3 assignment groups authoring knowledge to know we always intended to search the KB and find and use their articles to resolve on the first contact without having to assign the issue to their group. We regularly reported our usage/results to management.
Our Shift-left service strategy of moving resolution closer to the customer in a multi-tiered support structure was dependent on the success of our KM strategy. Our KM maturity and derived business value lies in our ability to create and repeatedly utilize this "single source of truth." This single source of truth is solely dependent on our discipline for creating quality, relevant content that addresses why customers reach out for support. The service desk and desktop services staff handle, resolve and fulfill about 80% of all incidents and service requests. To challenge ourselves, we would routinely ask staff their confidence level in searching the KB and finding the right Knowledge Article (KA) to resolve the issue accurately, fulfill the request, or answer the question. The teams, along with the technical and business SMEs, worked together to keep the "single source of truth" populated with knowledge that is both relevant and accurate. When we need it, we find it, use it, and get the results we were expecting. These results continue to build the team's confidence in our KB, encouraging them to search all the time.
Our KM coaches were impressive right from the beginning and took accountability and ownership within their team to influence (bottom-up) and prioritize our commitment to KCS principles. The coaches These influential, empowered knowledge coaches had an early impact and were a critical factor in the successful adoption of our KM program. Everyone plays an active and operational role in KM. We just stated that to deliver knowledge "at the speed of conversation," facilitating FCR, our knowledge needed to be easy to search and retrieve while being relevant, useful, and accurate. The Incident and Request management process, integrated into our ServiceNow tool, made it easier to flag knowledge for fixing. It also made it easier to add new information when the knowledge is absent and encourages assignment to other technical and business analyst groups.
Knowledge articles successfully utilized on the frontline resolving issues, answering questions, and fulfilling requests on the first contact are prime candidates for deflection to our Self-service portal. These "Knowledge Nuggets" have multiple formats (documents, video, audio, scripts, etc.) and typically involve a standard IT service offering (hardware, software, systems, applications, mobile devices). We are continually focused on self-service success as measured by adoption, the customer experience, and their success rate. We make sure that our marketing messages for increasing awareness and adoption are based on customer-centric benefits, not what's in it for us. Our journey success in adopting and utilizing KM was at first all about us. Now, it's about the community we support and how we can encourage workplace collaboration and the sharing of knowledge for the benefit of all!
Peter McGarahan is senior director of IT for First American Financial. Pete received the 2015 First American Excellence Award in IT, continuing his role as an industry thought leader and expert in the field of IT Service Management. He is also the founder of McGarahan & Associates and offers 30 years of business, IT, and service leadership. Pete has received HDI's Team Excellence Award for his work with the Taco Bell support organization, the "Top 25 Professionals in the Service and Support Industry" from IT Support News, and the "Legend of the Year" (twice) at the HDI Conference for his endless energy, mentoring, coaching, and contributions to the service and support industry and community. You can reach Pete by email, follow him on Twitter, and connect with him on LinkedIn.
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