Our work environment and its content are in constant change. For service desks and support teams it is a very time consuming job to keep the content up to date, if even possible at all. But if every use of an article provided an opportunity to edit and refresh the information in it, would that stop the bottleneck effect and result in updated information? In the second article in our KCS series we get to know about the second core principle of KCS- how to handle and evolve the content.
One problem, two scenarios
Two common scenarios that service and support teams often encounter revolve around maintenance and upkeep of their knowledge base articles. What may not appear to be a large issue, can take on herculean proportions as environments constantly change and information evolves.
The first scenario can happen frequently, and often occurs when someone in IT notices that a knowledge base article is out of date. Usually, changes have occurred in the environment, and the steps listed to resolve the issue no longer apply. On the other hand, often, the solution is still partially correct, however, there are more details that need to be added so that IT employees and customers alike can have up to date information.
The second scenario occurs when organizations are moving to a new knowledge solution, and many times are combining multiple repositories into one consolidated information source. In this case, the question is asked, should we review and ‘clean up’ every article (often numbering in the hundreds or thousands) before migrating them to a new knowledge solution?
The Solution – KCS core principles
As a previous post “Meeting customer needs with KCS” illustrated, there is a solution to both these scenarios, which countless companies and organizations around the world are adopting – Knowledge Centered Support (KCS), the set of best practices, which enable organizations to support more customers and handle more issues without adding more resources.
Drawn from the KCS Best practices, the core principles are:
- Create content (knowledge) as a by-product of solving problems.
- Evolve content based on demand and usage.
- Develop a knowledge base of an organization’s collective experience to-date.
- Reward learning, collaboration, sharing and improving.
The introduction to the KCS first principle was covered previously (creating the knowledge article as the issue is being handled), which leads into the second principle, and how it addresses the two scenarios (articles that need updating and ‘cleaning up’ articles before migration).
Avoiding the bottleneck
This principle states that as knowledge articles are used (searched for and viewed), they should be updated at that time, providing “just in time” updates. In other words, every use of an article provides an opportunity to edit and refresh the information in it.
When companies first start their KCS journey, this principle is often difficult to embrace, as historically, knowledge articles are often routed through a subject matter expert (SME), who validates submitted material, correcting any errors, ensuring consistency and providing oversight to their area of expertise. Unfortunately, this legacy process creates a bottleneck, as the SME must interrupt their work to review, edit and update articles submitted to them. Often, this is accomplished by scheduling specific time to work on the ‘knowledge queue’. However, this may only be once a week, or even as infrequently as a few times per month. For the service and support teams waiting on updated articles to be approved and put into the knowledge solution, this wait time creates further delay in assisting the customer, who also suffers from the lag time in providing updated information via the knowledge solution.
Taking control of the content with KCS roles
Adopting this KCS principle provides a solution to this bottleneck, by allowing anyone to edit an article as they use it, crowd sourcing the responsibility and speeding up a process by distributing the work among many, depending on the environment, both employees and customers. Naturally, parameters must be set so that correct information is captured and made viewable, not letting ‘wrong solutions’ be seen by everyone. This can be set up by using the KCS roles, such as allowing anyone to suggest an edit, however, only allowing edits made by a senior role to be published as “the official article”. Using these processes, the customer end users will only see the approved, official knowledge articles, while internal support employees may be able to see the “suggested edits” and decide for themselves if the edit yesterday may be a good choice versus the approved article from last year.
Focusing on the needed material
While this addresses the first scenario, the second is perhaps even more time consuming, as organizations consider moving onto new platforms periodically, and combining multiple repositories is discussed. While every environment is different, basic reporting on the existing knowledge articles will provide some indication of usage and the approach that should be taken. Whether the decision is made to migrate all of the existing articles over, or to leave them in place and build up new articles based on demand. The KCS-driven solution is to only review and edit articles as they are needed. This relieves the pressure of having to assign hundred, thousands, and even tens of thousands of articles out to SMEs, and time is not wasted on checking information that may never be used again.
With these processes being applied to both scenarios, companies are seeing a huge increase in productivity, and metrics are improving across the board.
Brandon Caudle, Customer Experience Visionary, CustomerServiceVoodoo