Why Workforce Managers Love Knowledge


Knowledge management in the support center helps workforce managers satisfy the needs of the business and the customers they serve

by Rick Joslin
January 11, 2018

Workforce managers are responsible for ensuring that the right people resources are scheduled to satisfy the demands from customers who need assisted service. They leverage a lot of contact data to understand the peaks and valleys of demand. They are challenged to satisfy the needs of the business as well as the needs of the people—as staff require time beyond their support responsibilities for vacations, training, projects, and the like. Fortunately, knowledge management is a friend to workforce managers. Let’s explore how knowledge management improves the life of a workforce manager.

Knowledge Minimizes Skill-Based Requirements

In support organizations that adopt a knowledge-centric approach, analysts search the knowledge base first to seek to understand what the organization knows before they seek to solve. Most organizations report that 65% to 85% of the requests for assisted service relate to issues that are known. That is, the issue, request, or question has been addressed previously. So, there is no need to perform rework to develop a new resolution, procedure, or answer. When the organization adopts a knowledge-centric service management strategy, they capture the known issues in their knowledge base as knowledge articles. Any member of the support team can then find and use the article to satisfy the customer’s need.

Organizations report that 65% to 85% of the requests for assisted service relate to issues that are known.
Tweet: Organizations report that 65% to 85% of the requests for assisted service relate to issues that are known. @ThinkHDI #KCS

Having every team member ready to support all products reduces the need for skills-based routing. Workforce managers simplify their scheduling task as they focus on demand in general and not skills coverage. I have had clients share with me that new hires who are trained on the process of using knowledge first are proficient at handling 65% to 85% of the tickets they recieve within two weeks of joining the team. Prior to implementing a knowledge-centric strategy, they reported it took two to six months to get a new hire proficient. Having new teammates proficient quickly adds to the available resources for the workforce manager.

Knowledge Reduces the Demand

Knowledge management can help reduce the work effort for each assisted service ticket and lower the overall demand when self-service is enabled. One of the benefits of a knowledge-first strategy is that it reduces the time related to investigation and analysis as well as recording. Searching and finding a knowledge article is faster than asking colleagues and doing research. The time saved for known issues (65% to 85% of all issues reported) translates directly into an increased capacity within the service desk to manage the demand.

When knowledge articles are used to create a ticket or resolve a ticket, much of the ticket content is copied from the knowledge article. This saves time for the analysts. In cases where the analyst can find a knowledge article during the first customer contact, the analyst can create a quick ticket that documents the customer’s need and resolution based on the article. The quick ticket is created and closed simultaneously while being marked as closed on first contact, improving the team’s first contact resolution rating. This leads to higher customer satisfaction and a lower cost per ticket.

The knowledge articles that are being used for these quick tickets are likely the articles that will be used by customers of a self-service portal. In these cases, the customer never contacts the service desk and you never really know that you helped them. While page views may indicate the articles are being accessed, the reduction in contacts to the service desk is evidence of call deflection and lower demand for assisted service.

Other knowledge articles in self-service may require the customer to request assisted service. When the article tells a customer that the issue is known and they need to contact the service desk for assistance, then the time related to investigation and analysis is reduced. The service desk has a different starting point for this type of contact. They begin by verifying the knowledge article is appropriate for the customer’s need and if so, then they follow the resolution procedure documented in the knowledge article to satisfy that need. Starting with knowledge first reduces the work effort and demand on the service desk.

Organizations that implement an enhanced knowledge management strategy can further reduce work effort and ultimately demand. Enhanced knowledge articles go beyond having answers to questions, resolutions to issues, and fulfillment procedures for requests. Additional information is captured in the knowledge articles to streamline ticket management. For example, a knowledge article can include the ticket type and categorization that, when used, will populate the ticket. For known issues, a default priority can be added to the knowledge article that will set the priority of a new ticket. For resolutions and fulfillment procedures that require work to be performed by other support partners, the tasks can be predefined and sequenced in the knowledge article. When such an article is used with a ticket, the creation of all the supporting tasks, or sub-tickets, can be automated. Analyst time is saved, the process is consistent, and the tasks are properly documented and assigned.

Knowledge-Centric Service Creates Opportunities for Growth

A knowledge-centric service management strategy results in resolving issues faster. It can also lead to the elimination of issues. When the capacity per analyst increases and the demand on the service desk decreases, the workforce manager can schedule staff to address training that will improve their skills and projects that enable the organization to deliver new and improved services. This will increase employee satisfaction. When skilled resources can be assigned to investigate problems with the goal of eliminating them and future incidents, demand for assisted service continues to go down.

Knowledge Is More Efficient for Detecting Problems

Identifying problems to investigate is often a laborious task of ticket trend analysis. Tickets are first categorized to group similar tickets into smaller buckets of information for analysis. Hopefully the categorization has been kept simple and analysts can apply it consistently. Rarely is this the case. People have different perspectives, and therefore, the starting data for this analysis is often faulty. The analysis is done by reviewing the tickets within a category to see if there are any trends. Are similar incidents being reported, how often, and by whom? This analysis is prone to more human error. But it is the best you have given the data. That is, until you implemented a knowledge centric strategy.

When knowledge is used as the starting point, tickets are linked to knowledge articles when they are created and when knowledge is reused. The knowledge article documents the known issue, or problem, and each ticket represents an incident related to that problem. With this new data, the analysis of repeat incidents becomes a task of running a report. This data-driven approach to identifying problems for further investigation is more accurate and eliminates the faulty and laborious ticket trend analysis. Problems are created and related to knowledge articles, which are related to incident tickets. When problem investigation identifies the cause, a better workaround, and/or a fix, then that information is updated in the knowledge article, making it immediately available to the analysts that need it.

Knowledge Helps the Workforce Manager

Workforce managers need to join the service desk managers, incident managers, and problem managers in championing the initiative to adopt a knowledge-centric service management strategy. A successful knowledge management strategy reduces the challenges for the workforce manager. The resource pool is improved, the demand is reduced, and the staffing schedule gets published.


Rick Joslin has more than 30 years of information technology experience. He has led software development teams and technical support organizations and has provided consulting services to several organizations. Rick has more than 20 years of experience in knowledge management and is recognized internationally as an expert in KCS. Rick holds a BS in computer science and multiple certifications from HDI, the KCS Academy, and AXELOS. He served as HDI’s Executive Director of Certification and Training for 10 years and is currently a 2018 Featured Contributor for HDI and Knowledge Product Strategist for KnowledgeDesk. Connect with Rick on LinkedIn. 
Tag(s): supportworld, service management, support center, knowledge management, KCS, workforce enablement, workforce enablement

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