There’s an old saying: if you do what you always did, you’ll get what you always got. That is definitely true in the support industry, and the pandemic proved that the way businesses have always operated isn’t necessarily the best way to support employees in the future.
And while knowledge has always been the backbone of the IT service desk and other support teams, it hasn’t always been at the forefront of everyone’s minds when thinking about excellent service. To create change, many organizations are now looking to Knowledge Centered Service (KCS) and KCS thinking as a new way to provide faster, smarter, and stronger support.
Knowledge Centered Service/Support, or KCS, is a way of thinking that prioritizes knowledge sharing and creation to provide an exceptional customer and employee experience. The Consortium for Service Innovation points out that KCS is a simple idea: integrate the creation and maintenance of knowledge into the process of interaction.
There are four core-principles of KCS:
- Abundance: Share more, learn more
- Create Value: Work tasks; think big picture
- Demand Driven: Knowledge is a by-product of interaction
- Trust: Engage, empower, motivate
- But what does that look like in practice?
KCS thinking looks a lot like problem management when you get down to it. By that, I mean that when incidents are connected to a larger problem, typically there is documentation within the ITSM tool on how to resolve the problem. So when a new incident comes in related to that problem, the agent would know to first look at the notes of how it was fixed last time, and go from there.
You can think of KCS along these same lines. When something happens – be it an incident or a service request, the agent would first consult the knowledge database to see if a fix already exists, and, if so, follow those guidelines. If nothing exists, the agent would quickly document how to resolve the problem and update the knowledge database.
This might seem time-consuming, but in reality this ensures a level of service continuity that creates more seamless and reliable support. You can almost think of KCS thinking as agents operating off recipe cards to whip up the right result.
Of course, there are additional loops and factors in KCS which take into account the amount of knowledge and the health of that knowledge, with a focus on continual addition and refinement of knowledge articles. For now, it’s important to know that KCS-thinking puts a focus on eliminating knowledge bottlenecks to better serve the customer.
Benefits of Knowledge Centered Service
I mentioned that KCS-thinking may be time-consuming, but there are more benefits that outweigh that point. For example, KCS-thinking ensures that new agents are able to hit the ground running without extensive training. It also takes the guesswork out of solving repetitive issues. In addition, as the agent learns the knowledge management system, they are able to navigate it quickly for more complex problems.
How to Shift to Knowledge Centered Service
Ultimately, the goal of KCS thinking is to integrate the use of an intelligent knowledge base into the workflows of agents. That means you need to:
- Focus on content creation as a product of problem resolution
- Evolve that content based on use
- Create an intelligent knowledge base that can be used by many
- Continually collaborate, share, and improve upon that knowledge base
This all starts with a mindset shift. Getting agents used to documenting the way they resolved tickets can seem arduous, but is important. The next step is to gather feedback from both agents and customers on what type of knowledge is the most useful and helpful to them, so that you can ensure the knowledge will be used.
As with any knowledge base, it should be integrated into a knowledge management system that is accessible via self-service portals or within the ITSM tool. You can even go a step further and make knowledge accessible via an integrated omnichannel chatbot. Either way, knowledge articles shouldn’t be lengthy or full of jargon. The key is to get the knowledge in front of the people who need it in a format they can use and easily digest.
Finally, you’ll need to create a strategy to market the database and to continually review and refine your knowledge base. This might look like inviting agents to update live documents, or it might mean gathering feedback via surveys and implementing that feedback into the documents. Either way, your knowledge base should be a continually living, changing, growing thing.
The key to KCS thinking is remembering that at the heart of all of your efforts is knowledge to better serve the customer. If the customer and agent experiences are not the center of your knowledge base, then the effort will ultimately fall flat. But when you can harness the power of collective knowledge and eliminate knowledge silos, you’ll be able to provide next-level service and support to employees and customers alike.
Evan Carlson, a member of the HDI 2021 Strategic Advisory Board, was hired in 2010 as EasyVista’s first North American employee. During his tenure, Carlson has served in a variety of roles and now serves as the Chief Revenue Officer (CRO) of EasyVista North America. As a result of his and his teams’ efforts, EasyVista has been named in Gartner’s Magic Quadrant for IT Service Management Tools ten years in a row.