HDI’s SPOCcast is your single point of contact podcast for service management and support insights. For Episode 2, I conducted an interview with knowledge management expert Aprill Allen(a.k.a., Knowledge Bird) via Skype to discuss the urgent need for knowledge management, the efficacy of tools in the space, and much more. The following interview is excerpted from my conversation with Aprill.
Hear the entire interview on the SPOCcast site.
RA: Would you agree or disagree with the statement that knowledge management is more important now than ever? Why or why not?
AA: We’ve got a new pressure now. Technology has advanced to a point where everyone is now talking about and wanting to adopt some kind of automation—AI, machine learning. Leaders want to invest in it. But, for it to work, it needs data; it needs the context that domain experience provides. And, if you don’t have that sort of centralized knowledge base, then the data isn’t there in the first place. And if you have a static knowledge base and nothing else, you don’t have the visibility of changes and patterns of use, which is what informs the machine learning. The time has come, really; people are awake now to the fact that they really need to be considering knowledge management.
RA: You work with different kinds of organizations and different sizes of organizations. Is there something they have in common when it comes to their needs for knowledge management?
AA: I think it’s just not realizing what they can do to make their lives easier when training someone new, for example. So, often they don’t realize there is such a thing as an internal knowledge base, but they think about knowledge bases in a customer service sense…. They can use it as a training tool….
Often, they don’t realize there is such a thing as an internal knowledge base.
A common mistake is to rely on a single technical writer or a customer service manager to be the person that administers it, and they become the one writer and the one reviewer and it creates a real slowdown in getting that knowledge reusable.
RA: A lot of organizations rely on information being passed from one person to that new person…so they get that single perspective, and I would think of that as being true in terms of the technical writer or knowledge writer in the same way. Is that true?
AA: In my time in help desks, that was the way it went for me…. We called it “double-jacking” when we were shadowing phone calls…. You would get a single perspective and way of solving problems when there could be multiple ways of solving the same problem.
RA: It’s the object of an organization to continue to grow and increase its customer base; so let’s talk about how knowledge management scales. Is there a better way to do it? Is KCS™ (Knowledge-Centered Service)…does that scale better than other methodologies?
AA: I think it does, by virtue of making knowledge management a team activity, so everybody’s taught and trained how to contribute to the knowledge base in a consistent and sustainable way, so it’s not just going through a single gatekeeper. I do think KCS offers that scalability from Day 1.... KCS is the only methodology that can grow as a team and as an organization and the customer base grows.
RA: What are some areas of the business outside IT that can benefit from using a methodology like KCS or knowledge management in general?
AA: Sales organizations can certainly benefit from sharing knowledge…. We’re hearing a lot more about HR taking the reins of knowledge management within an organization and really owning employee success through providing a single source of truth for employee information. Any organization that gets emails and phone calls and any other channels of communication from people asking questions are served by the practices that KCS offers to aim to make those answers reusable in self-service.
RA: I know people who have searched for the perfect knowledge management tool. Does it matter very much? How much does it matter? What’s your advice on tools?
AA: None of them do everything well. I think if you want to do KCS, there’s some level you could go with whatever you have, because a lot of KCS is about the behavior change and searching for answers rather than relying on what we know independently. But then when you want to be able to measure, well, how often is our knowledge being reused when we’re solving cases, those kinds of analytics are still quite a challenge to get out of the box. So that’s where alignment to KCS in terms of a tool can be quite helpful…. The tool can provide that extra mile of success that you wouldn’t ordinarily get to.
There’s lots more included in the conversation, so don’t miss listening.
About Aprill Allen:
Globally recognized as the Knowledge Bird, Aprill Allen is a knowledge management consultant, certified KCS trainer, and independent analyst monitoring emerging knowledge tech. Knowledge Bird works with leaders to develop better knowledge management practices in all kind of organizations—from scale-ups to large-scale enterprises—helping teams work more effectively with organizational know-how for customer and employee success. As an angel investor and advisor, Aprill helps CEOs of growing startups establish the processes they need to push through the growing pains of scaling their businesses.
Roy Atkinson is one of the top influencers in the service and support industry. His blogs, presentations, research reports, white papers, keynotes, and webinars have gained him an international reputation. In his role as senior writer/analyst, he acts as HDI's in-house subject matter expert, bringing his years of experience to the community. He holds a master’s certificate in advanced management strategy from Tulane University’s Freeman School of Business, and he is a certified HDI Support Center Manager. Follow him on Twitter @RoyAtkinson.