In my last post, I talked about how Knowledge-Centered Service (KCS?) has evolved from a support-centric methodology to become more broadly applicable to other departments. To see the truly transformational effects of KCS, we require a different definition of “work.” For many companies, KCS remains firmly entrenched in the support department, so let’s start our discussion there.

KCS turns support agents to knowledge workers

The traditional support agent leads a reactive existence: calls or emails come in with issues or complaints, and the case is assigned to an agent who responds accordingly. This transactional model of work is costly for several reasons:

  1. Agents must wait until there’s a problem to work
  2. From the word “go,” agents are already behind because customers are likely already unhappy with the experience of getting the product to work

That’s where KCS comes in to help change that experience: the interactions between support agents and customers become learning opportunitie—a way to record knowledge shared, learned, or even what knowledge is missing. There will always be a need for good human-to-human support, but for many of the issues, self-service would suffice if companies made it available.

KCS methodology puts companies on the fast-track to creating a sustainable self-service model.

In adopting KCS, companies must recognize that support agents are really knowledge workers—they?produce, refine, and distribute content. Though they still have transactional interactions, those transactions produce collateral knowledge which is then invested through self-service to help future customers and employees learn faster and better. As such, we require a different way of measuring the work done by support agents.

Traditionally, time-to-close/average-handle-time, tickets-in-queue, and other metrics that measure the cost of each case or interaction are how support agents were judged on a job well done. But whereas those metrics measure the “here-and-now” of the interaction, with knowledge workers we want to measure more.

That is, how does the knowledge worker impact the future?

Thus, we must track the articles being produced, the effectiveness of those articles towards helping others, and the impact of self-service content on the customer experience. If the knowledge worker is producing helpful, easy-to-consume knowledge, the “traditional” support metrics will begin to improve as well.

Building revenue potential through knowledge

The knowledge produced in support interactions can do wonders for the customer experience anywhere in the journey. But support interactions represent a narrow percentage of customer engagement opportunities. That means that without practicing KCS methodology beyond support, you’re missing out on the chance to institutionalize a wealth of knowledge.

Sales, success, and product teams can all, in their own way, contribute to the production of knowledge at your company. Each person, each department, brings its own perspective about how the products and services relate to the customer. A knowledge-centered business captures and reuses this knowledge to drive internal and external understanding. Capturing knowledge in context creates better training materials for employees and more relevant content for customers that can be based on industry or personas.

But to achieve these benefits, knowledge production and improvement must be valued as one of the most important things an employee can do. As people increasingly rely on search technologies to research products, companies will need contextually relevant knowledge to meet the demands of these searches.

Contextually aware technologies like Amazon’s Alexa and Apple’s Siri won’t be calling up your sales or support teams as it searches for answers. It will deliver the content that is publicly available—whether it’s from your company or a third-party/competitor.

Knowledge-centered businesses will have the content they need to drive these types of interactions that will increasingly come to define we interact with companies.

Go from now how to know-how

Lastly, by valuing the production, sharing, and refining of knowledge as a critical part of every job, you can connect customer and employee actions to product-specific content. Instead of wondering, “Now how did we do that?” you will know what content helped close a sale, what content helped close a case, or what content was missing to help seal the upsell.

KCS creates an engine of content that can be measured and optimized continuously. It all starts with the belief that knowledge is a critical asset produced by every employee.

KCS? is a service mark of the Consortium for Service Innovation?.