Knowledge is the backbone of a good service portal and it empowers your customers to find the right answers
They say knowledge is power. In the Service industry, ServiceNow Knowledge Management empowers customers to find the answers they seek via a service portal and enables service teams to ensure high levels of customer satisfaction.
But here’s a reality check: most service organizations struggle with breaking the 1:1 human interaction cycle–service desk interactions which take place via phone or e-mail. This cycle is terrifically inefficient for both the customer and the provider. Breaking the cycle requires fresh thinking and a deeper understanding of the benefits of knowledge management.
Knowledge provides value when you and your customers can access it. Otherwise, it’s just untapped information taking up space. More importantly, the knowledge in your service portal must be good and accurate–as not many things displease customers more than bad information.
How can you help ensure that the knowledge in your service portal is good? There are best practices available, such as the Knowledge Centered Service (KCS) principles, worth considering.No time like right now
Time is of the essence for customers today; they want answers fast. Waste their time and you risk losing their business. Customers would rather find out the answers for themselves if they save time in getting what they’re looking for. In fact, studies have shown that over 90% of customers prefer using self-service portals to answer their questions, if the information is good.
As a service professional, a large part of your day-to-day work might include providing customers many of the same answers to the same questions–but not always. New scenarios or issues come up and answers aren’t always clear as day, at least to you. The good news is that you work with people who may have already dealt with this issue that you’re in the dark about. But, you’ll never know because the solution wasn’t recorded and shared. That’s the bad news. As a result, your time, and that of the customer, is wasted.
Knowledge plays a key role in helping delight customers and is a big reason behind the changes taking place in the service industry. Here are two trends being driven by knowledge:
- Chat bots. Voice or chat driven, chat bots are programmed KNOWLEDGE in a branching tree manner.
- Artificial Intelligence. AI is the newest thing. It thinks and learns over time. In other words, it acquires KNOWLEDGE mostly by itself. It’s still early, but ostensibly, it will be a lot better than a chat bot because AI is being applied in interactive voice and chat use.
These approaches are enabled by knowledge, so it seems that knowledge will become more important rather than less.
Finding synergy with Knowledge Centered Service (KCS)
Now onto the best practice source I mentioned earlier, KCS, which is a proven methodology for integrating the use, validation, improvement, and creation of knowledge into the workflow. KCS, which is promulgated by a group called the Consortium for Service Innovation, is an approach to knowledge management that is seeing rapid adoption.
KCS runs counter to the traditional knowledge management approach, which is based on the concepts of knowledge from a few for the use of many. KCS espouses a core set of principles controlled by a small group, but with a much wider embrace of the actual knowledge workers–to be able to understand and apply the principles more easily in day-to-day operational activities. Simply put, KCS is a many-to-many model.
Figure 1: Simplified diagram of the KCS structure. Source: http://www.serviceinnovation.org/kcs/
Core to KCS principles is the concept of a double loop process, which they call the Solve Loop and the Evolve Loop. The "work tasks" is the Solve Loop and the "big picture" is the Evolve Loop.
Our focus is on completing tasks in the Solve Loop with an understanding of the potential benefits the collection of tasks provides in the Evolve Loop. The Evolve Loop reflects on and learns from a collection of Solve Loop tasks and associated knowledge articles. It is the organizational-level processes which analyze the patterns that emerge for a collection of tasks and knowledge use. It only works if each task is done correctly. The Solve Loop and Evolve Loop are interdependent: each enables the other.
Figure 2: KCS Evolve Loop and Governance
If we look a little deeper, the Evolve Loop is what we would essentially call governance. Here’s what the Evolve Loop does:
- Represents the responsibilities of leadership and the organization-level process.
- Defines the Solve Loop processes and standards for content.
- Provides a process of continuous improvement based on the analysis of the Solve Loop experiences.
- Looks at a collection of Solve Loop events and the articles associated with those events.
- Integrates knowledge worker activities in resolving issues with organizational-level processes, including the responsibility to support and continuously improve the overall maturity of the KCS system and improve the Solve Loop.
As we see in the image above, the four pillars of the Evolve Loop are Content Health, Process Integration, Performance Assessment and Leadership & Communications.
In our previous blog, we discussed the results from a Knowledge assessment survey completed by the support staff at one of our clients, which revealed six challenges in knowledge management. In the image above, we can see that three of these challenges are directly addressed by the functions of the Evolve Loop.
About the Author: Don Casson is CEO of Evergreen Systems, an IT consulting firm helping medium to enterprise public and private sector organizations to dramatically transform their IT operations. Don is a frequent writer, blogger and presenter, and has delivered over 60 webinars on topics in Service Management, including IT and shared services.