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What to Do and What to Avoid for Your Knowledge Management Program

Here’s a roadmap for an effective KM approach, and the detours that can slow down the process.

Knowledge management is a hot topic these days, as it can empower agents, many of whom are still working from home, with the right answers that comply with company and regulatory policy. Knowledge management becomes even more important as a way to hold onto institutional knowledge as companies manage high rates of agent turnover, layoffs, and staff burnout in this economic climate.

Knowledge management has a real return on investment measured by contact deflection, reduced handle times, less rework, and increased agent and customer satisfaction. Yet, knowledge management is still hard to do well. Many organizations struggle to decide what knowledge to include in the knowledge base, and what content should be left in its original source while being available to agents. Executives don’t always understand how activities done by a knowledge team translate into real business outcomes, and don’t always support these programs with the adequate resources for success. ?

Here is a list of 5 best practices and 5 pitfalls to avoid as you embark on or mature your KM journey. By following them, you should have a smoother road to success.

Best practices:

DEFINE OWNERSHIP OF THE PROJECT.

Identify the executive who will provide ongoing funding and resourcing for this initiative, and who will be the leader to make decisions about your KM program. We find that the contact center or customer service leader is the most natural owner of a KM program.

IDENTIFY THE PROJECT TEAM.

The No. 1 reason knowledge management initiatives stall is because the right knowledge team isn’t assembled. You need to have: a project manager who coordinates project and rollout activities; knowledge authors; contact center agents who provide suggestions for knowledge organization and content and test the knowledge base prior to launch; knowledge experts, who define the taxonomy, tags and content specific to a role; and IT resources who maintain the software.

CHOOSE A KNOWLEDGE PROGRAM TO FOLLOW.

There is a range of formalized knowledge programs available to choose from – from very structured programs in terms of who can author, edit, and approve knowledge to programs like KCS that encourage teams to take collective responsibility for the health of the knowledgebase.

DETERMINE A ROLLOUT STRATEGY.

Creating a knowledge base that contains content for all products and services that your company offers is really daunting. This tends to result in a knowledge base that is solid in places and has gaps in others. It’s a recipe for disaster as agents and customers who can’t find answers to their questions will quickly stop using it. Best practice dictates focusing on depth and not breadth. Start by developing a comprehensive set of knowledge for a single product. Roll this offering out internally first, then roll it out externally to customers, and address other products sequentially.

DETERMINE SUCCESS METRICS.

Identify the areas that are most critical to your company’s service operations and then determine the metrics against which the deployment will be measured. Select metrics that are aligned with business outcomes and that will provide a comprehensive view of the business. Examples of such metrics are: 1) operation metrics, such as reduced handle time, higher first-contact resolution, and reduced tier two escalations, and 2) performance metrics, such as improved customer satisfaction, higher agent morale, lower agent turnover, and faster time-to-competency for new hires.

Pitfalls To Avoid

It’s easy to fall prey to bad practices in KM. Keep in mind the following pitfalls:

NO EXECUTIVE CONTINUOUS PARTICIPATION.

Knowledge management is not a quick win. It’s a long-term cross-organizational initiative that can help move the needle on business outcomes. You need solid executive support to drive the success of your program.

LACK OF UNDERSTANDING THAT KNOWLEDGE IS A JOURNEY.

Executive management must understand that the effort does not stop once a knowledge base has been deployed. The knowledge program must be staffed over the long-term to ensure that the content stays relevant and complete. See pitfall #1.

AD HOC PROCESSES.

You can’t take shortcuts. New knowledge must be reviewed, approved, and methodically translated.

FRAGMENTED OR SILOED ORGANIZATIONAL EFFORTS TO TAME THE KNOWLEDGE PROBLEM.

Knowledge management should be a companywide initiative, where all lines of business follow consistent policies and use the same technology.
Copying other companies’ knowledge strategies and thinking that they’ll work for you.

Examine the knowledge offering of your competitors, but don’t copy them blindly. Figure out what works for you and your culture.

This is the starting blueprint for an effective knowledge management program that can enhance employee and customer success. What tips can you add?

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