The Myth of Proactive Problem Management - Part 4


Learn why changing our data source from cases to articles moves us from reactive to proactive problem management

by Adam Krob
April 20, 2017

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.

Knowledge repositories are ideal for truly proactive problem management.
Tweet: Knowledge repositories are ideal for truly proactive problem management. @adamkrob @ThinkHDI #ITSM

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.”


For more than two decades, Dr. Adam Krob has studied and evaluated IT and customer support structures. While his career spans numerous areas, his core focus has always been the optimal alignment of support with the company's goals and the use of knowledge management strategies, such as KCS, as a tool to achieve these goals. Adam is a pioneer in enhancing overall perceptions of service, and in the transformation of support from a reactive to a proactive enterprise. He is the cofounder of Klever , a company dedicated to bringing common sense to knowledge-sharing practices. Follow Adam on Twitter at @adamkrob .


Tag(s): supportworld, service management, problem management, knowledge management, KM

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