Across industries and geographies, companies are asking the same questions: How do they scale and extend their support capabilities, with limited staff and budget resources? How do they continue to provide world class customer service to existing customers while being asked to do more? How can they keep up with the increasing demand on their support staff?
Fortunately, a set of best practices called Knowledge Centered Support (KCS) is gaining traction in the technical service and support world and provides a process driven solution to these questions. KCS originated in 1992, through the efforts of a non-profit alliance of customer service organizations working together to capture and share best practices for Knowledge*. In April, 2014, ComAround attended the 24th annual HDI world conference for technical service and support, in Orlando, Florida, where KCS was featured prominently and discussed in many sessions.
Discovering the service potential of knowledge driven support
At the conference, a common thread through the breakout sessions was that as companies grow and expand, they are turning to KCS as a framework for capturing and sharing organizational information, among both their technical employees and their customers. While Knowledge Management is commonly recognized as a “must have” for practically any company, as an industry, we are just starting to embrace the business and customer service potential of knowledge driven support.
Studies have repeatedly shown that KCS adoption can lead to a 60% improvement in resolution time and up to a 50% increase in self service rates.*
Revolutionizing customer support
At a high level, the core principles of KCS 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.
Taking a closer look at each principle can provide a knowledge centered view into how customer support can be revolutionized. For example, the first principle simply states that as an issue arises and a customer contacts support, if a knowledge article (or knowledge guide) does not exist for that specific issue, the analyst or technician should create an article at the time that they solve the issue. Immediately. Right Away. Without Delay.
Meeting customer needs
The importance of immediate content creation becomes critical as companies experience the typical spike in support contacts soon after a new product, service or version is rolled out to its customers. As any IT support professional can attest, the need for support is often short lived, with the calls and emails tapering off as the issue is resolved. Because of this spike and subsequent taper, the “old” method of waiting to develop a knowledge article until the demand was high enough rarely meets the customer’s need, often generates a knowledge article “after the fact”, and ties up support staff with repetitive calls that could be resolved by the end user through self service.
Of course, the Knowledge tool must support this “author immediately” function, and must be easy to use, with one-button publish so that customers can easily find the solution online. Forward thinking companies are setting up alerts with their tools so that as the Customers search for words and phrases, technicians are alerted and a knowledge article can be created on the fly. Stay tuned as we share more KCS principles in upcoming posts.
*Footnote – www.serviceinnovation.org/kcs
Brandon Caudle, Customer experience visionary, @customerservicevoodoo