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The Myth of Proactive Problem Management – Part 4

This post is part of a 4-part series by Adam Krob and Bill Stockton. See Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3.

In Alice in Wonderland, Alice has a specific end in mind. In the end, all she really wants is to go home. All of the creatures in Wonderland offer her well-meaning – if confusing – advice on how to get out. The King tells her to just keep going while the Cheshire Cat tells her that the path doesn’t matter so much.

Our customers find themselves in a similar situation. We, inhabitants of our own Wonderland (a description some of you might find ironic), spend a great deal of time and resources on the process of handling a customer incident or case. We make sure that our systems handle escalated issues properly, directing them to the right expert the first time. We create submission forms on our support portal that collect exactly the information we need to handle the problem quickly. We even create support inside our products and services so we know what version a customer is running before they even submit a support ticket.

All of these efforts create an efficient support organization. But they are all about us. It doesn’t matter how smooth a path we provide our customers, how beautiful the interface is. Our customers don’t want to be on the path.

If we rely on our cases/incidents as our touchstone for improving our processes, we will always be looking at the path. Cases and incidents are designed to show how we got to a resolution. Knowledge articles, on the other hand, tell us what we learned from the journey with our customer. We can get to know what problems our customers are having at specific times or with specific features of our product or service.

Most important, though, is that taking a close look at the knowledge repository changes our perspective. We don’t spend our time looking at the path. We spend our time looking at our customer’s needs and anticipating them – delivering knowledge to them when and where they need it, rather than making them come to our path. That is why knowledge repositories are ideal for truly proactive problem management.

It may sound impossible to get from where you are to leveraging your knowledge repository to deliver truly proactive support. You can get there. Start a knowledge sharing program, if you don’t already have one. If you are already started down that road, rebuild some of your reporting to identify when customers need your knowledge. Change your problem management team by pointing them to knowledge articles rather than cases.

As Alice said at the end of her journey, “Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.”