Is knowledge self-service enablement progressing?
Fresh thinking on the state of knowledge management today
One of the goals of knowledge management is to make the best use of your knowledge. It makes sense for a service organization to accumulate and share knowledge to help deliver great customer experiences, from Level 1 support to customer self-service.
So, what is knowledge management? Is it a document? How do we define knowledge management today? And how can we address the challenges in establishing effective knowledge management?
One challenge with knowledge management is consistency. While you may have a good set of principles for knowledge, there may not be a way of ensuring they are used consistently. Another challenge includes getting participation from support staff to build knowledge – they are often too busy to participate in knowledge management. And because knowledge is ever-changing, it’s hard to keep pace, so knowledge can become stale fast, which doesn’t serve the customer or your team well.
For some, the value knowledge management brings is unclear, or not measurable. Because some perceive it as too difficult to quantify, it may be hard to get buy-in for an investment in knowledge management. And for others, knowledge is seen as a nice to have rather than a must-have.
Self-service knowledge delivers value
Results from a Knowledge Assessment Survey completed by the support staff at one of our clients reveal common challenges in knowledge management. The staff found it (knowledge) too hard to publish. The survey also revealed a limited understanding of standards or processes for knowledge, poor knowledge searchability, and a lack of understanding about how their role is in the development and use of knowledge. Here are the key findings:
- Takes too long to publish an article
- Want to self-publish articles
- Unclear content standards
- Knowledge Article search-ability poor
- Don’t understand the current Knowledge Management process
- Unclear Roles & Responsibilities
Realizing the true value of knowledge today is significantly inhibited by the lack of self-service knowledge. By enabling customers to search knowledge for themselves and resolve their own issues, you free up your support personnel’s time and give the customer what that want, when they want it – that is, answers to their questions.
Figure 1: Knowledge Self Service Enablement Not Progressing
According to HDI surveys, around 80% of IT organizations do offer self-service options to their customers. That’s an impressive percentage! But, according to an ongoing survey by Happy Signals, with 100,000 responses as of just a year ago, 64% of ServiceDesk interactions are via phone or e mail.
What this means is that despite being terrifically inefficient for both the customer and the provider, 1-to-1 unique human interaction remains the norm. And it has been for more than a decade – it’s almost hard to believe.
Worse yet, even though 80% of service organizations claim to have self-service for their customers, self-service interactions make up only 12% of all activity. If this percentage isn’t bad enough, consider that self-service being delivered has the lowest overall “happiness rating” – at 53%.
It’s not that people don’t like self-service. They really do like self-service, but not when it’s bad.
Breaking the cycle
We can’t do much fresh thinking on knowledge self-service until we first break the 1:1 human interaction cycle. If we intend to change this, we should make sure we understand the benefits knowledge can bring:
- Enable self-service Incident & “how to” inquiry
- Self-service attempts to “triage” items, enabling faster routing
- Frees Level 1 for higher order work
- More accurate, consistent & faster level 1 resolution
- Train new support personnel faster & more consistently
- Capture institutional knowledge more accurately, consistently and completely
- Better identify training needs, remediation or enhancement opportunities
If we can enable self-service knowledge and initial attempts to solve an issue, we reduce the work of level 1 support, and can route an issue much faster. At Level 1, better use of knowledge can make a big difference in more accurate and consistent resolution and increasing the topic range a Level 1 person can cover.
It also helps to train new support personnel faster and better, while reducing the number of “bad habits” picked up while learning the job. And it gives us a way to better capture the tribal knowledge of more senior support people before it’s lost to retirement.
Through the “inspecting” nature of the knowledge process, we can uncover ways to improve customer support and ultimately even eliminate the issue at hand via training, remediation or product enhancement.
How much can you self-serve knowledge?
How about 100%? While that sounds crazy, it is essentially what Amazon has done. And Amazon is in pretty good company with Nordstrom and Costco, ranking as the highest ranked retailer in the world in customer satisfaction, at a score of 86.
Here’s what is astounding to me. More than 2/3 of American households pay $100 per year to be Amazon Prime members. The odds are that you are a Prime member. Why? Because of Amazon’s excellent, complete customer experience.
But, have you tried talking to them? You can’t. The fact is they have so completely engineered the customer self-service experience that you don’t need to talk to them. Everything AMAZON does is powered by effective self-service knowledge.
Is it time to discover how you can leverage self-service to do the same?
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.