Creating and Keeping a Strong KCS Culture

by Liz Bunger
March 13, 2018

Rolling out Knowledge Centered Service (KCS) is easy. KCS is a well thought out process, it doesn’t require difficult skills to participate, anyone in your organization can do it. It’s process change. You did A before, now you do B. Simple. So why aren’t more companies successful with KCS? Because KCS can’t be a process change; it must be a culture change.

Unfortunately, cultures aren’t as easy to change as processes. I have seen organizations roll out KCS successfully. But I have seen more organizations that require more than one roll out because they forgot about the culture shift that was needed. It’s easy to tell people they need to use, flag, fix, and add knowledge. But if you don’t talk about why they are doing it, they likely won’t stay engaged.

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Start with the Rollout

Creating a KCS culture needs to start at the rollout. I won’t say it’s never successful to try to add the culture piece after the process is in place, but you might be swimming upstream. The biggest successes I have seen are when people understood why you were looking to make the change and could identify the problem statements. You aren’t going to tell them anything they don’t know, and for best results, I would ask them to identify the problem statements in the organization. Be prepared to talk about how KCS can address those problem statements. For example, maybe there is concern about being short staffed. KCS can help eliminate some of the low-hanging fruit that ties up time on work that isn’t urgent, freeing time for the work that needs to happen. It can also reduce the number of times more than one person needs to be involved to resolve an issue, again freeing up time. Focus on the benefits that are important to them. Your “why” as the person rolling out KCS, or as management, is likely not the same “why” as the employees on the front line talking to customers.

Other things I have seen that increase engagement in KCS is acknowledging their concerns about adding more work, dumbing down their job, or not having enough time. These are all real concerns I hear from a variety of groups. Reassure them that is not the case and KCS will actually do the exact opposite.

Choose Your Coaches Wisely

Choose great KCS coaches. They need to be the positive influencers in your organization that can help you move forward. Provide great training in the beginning and for all new employees. Help people understand what KCS is, how it works, and the benefits. Teaching someone how to use a tool and do a task is easy. Remember to teach them why KCS is how they do their job.

Measure the Results

A few words of caution as you are creating your KCS culture. It’s important to measure your success and to measure the activities taking place. The success is great information to share; the activities are great information to have. Talk about the success loudly, and be careful how you talk about the activities. For KCS to be successful, everyone needs to participate by using, flagging, fixing, and adding knowledge. If they aren’t participating, someone needs to talk to them about that. However, if what they hear is you aren’t doing the activities enough, they will likely attain whatever goal you set for them. But it might not be the right behavior. For example, if you ask someone on your team why they didn’t add any articles month after month, they are going to start adding articles so you stop bringing it up. Those may not be valuable articles though. It’s important to have metrics and talk about them; just be careful with your focus. Make sure you are measuring a variety of items at an analyst level such as knowledge usage, articles edited and created, article quality index, average work time to resolve, and customer satisfaction. It’s also very important to have overall measurements for the department like incident volume, percent of first contact resolved, and employee satisfaction. The Consortium for Service Innovation has a great resource, Measurement Matters, available to help guide you throughout your KCS adoption.

Make Participation a Positive Experience

Don’t make KCS so bureaucratic that people don’t want to participate. That’s the beauty of KCS; everyone can and should contribute. All employees have knowledge to share, even your new people. Move people through the KCS licensing model so they can contribute at the right level for their experience. All new employees should start at Candidate and as your KCS adoption matures, move people to Contributors and Publishers. This will also lighten the load of the Publishers if more people are able to direct publish articles.

Don’t make KCS so bureaucratic that people don’t want to participate.
Tweet: Don’t make KCS so bureaucratic that people don’t want to participate. @ThinkHDI #knowledgemanagement

Lead the Charge

A key piece to a successful culture is remembering KCS is not a project. Rolling out KCS is a project. If you think you’ll ever be done, you will be, and not in the way you want. The culture of KCS needs care and feeding. Never lose track of why KCS is important. Have great KCS coaches and a KCS process owner. You need someone to lead the charge and keep the organization focused on KCS as how they do their job. This does not need to be a full-time job. It can be part of one of your leader’s jobs. I have been part of an organization practicing KCS for 10 years, and for the first six, there was no one with a full-time job related to knowledge. Now it’s one person, and they are mainly responsible for the tool. KCS works because KCS is everyone’s job and it is the culture.

Liz Bunger is an IT knowledge management process analyst, responsible for training within the service desk organization and managing all aspects of the knowledge management program, including administration of the knowledge management tool, training, and analytics. Over the last several years, Liz has assisted multiple organizations in implementing effective knowledge management practices. Liz holds certifications in ITIL v3 Foundations and HDI Knowledge Centered Support Principles and is an HDI Certified Instructor.

Tag(s): supportworld, support center, KCS, KM, knowledge management, workforce enablement, workforce enablement, culture


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