Six KM best practices to enhance customer service
Improving content to better serve customers
The knowledge management problem at Symantec, a provider of consumer and enterprise security solutions, was clear: The support organization was using a rigid content authoring model and had an inflexible knowledge usage and improvement process, which made it difficult to capture feedback from technical support engineers (TSEs) and customers and share it effectively. Given the go-ahead by senior leadership to implement a leaner and more successful knowledge program, the Symantec team first developed new knowledge management processes, determined the fundamental criteria that it wanted to incorporate into the KM solution, and then turned to InQuira's knowledge management system to help actualize its needs.
The company used eight best practices when implementing the InQuira knowledgebase to ensure success:
- Adopt flexible knowledge management processes. Symantec found that the rigid roles they adopted in the previous knowledge management process, known as knowledge-centered support (KCS), did not work in its environment, so it chose those elements of KCS that worked well within its company culture and relaxed the KCS-mandated role structure.
- Encourage shared ownership of content. Symantec required all TSEs who came in contact with content to take responsibility for its accuracy, completeness and relevance. If TSEs found content that needed improvement, they edited it in real time. If TSEs found a content gap, they used details from the case to create a new article and link it back to the support case.
- Eliminate the role of designated "knowledge creators." Symantec had a global team dedicated to creating and updating knowledge content. The firm moved to a shared-ownership model where everyone in the organization is responsible and accountable for creating and updating content, and members of the original global knowledge team were redeployed as coaches to assist with the adoption of the new program.
- Link articles to support cases to show their usefulness and quality. When TSEs found content that was accurate, complete and answered the customer's question, they linked it to the customer's case. If the content needed improvement, the TSE immediately edited the article. Once TSEs had linked content to three cases, the firm considered that it was of good enough quality to promote it for review and eventual publication on the customer-facing website.
- Eliminate mandatory full review of all content. The new knowledge model made every TSE responsible for creating content. The system only promoted content to a review queue based on its value to multiple TSEs and did not move content that did not solve customer issues through the review process. Other content, determined to be of good quality based on the fact that other TSEs used it, was pushed through an accelerated review and publishing process that eliminated bottlenecks.
- Use lightweight authoring workflows. When TSEs had linked content to three cases, the system pushed it to a review queue staffed by skilled and experienced experts who supported that particular product. Those TSEs could also flag content for review if they felt it should be published without waiting for the three links to occur. If the reviewing TSEs did not complete their work within seven calendar days, content that was intended to be made public was automatically published to the customer-facing site.
- Give TSEs authority. Most articles went through the process of waiting for three links before review and publishing. However, some content needed to be published more quickly in order to help customers find information online and reduce support calls. In that case, TSEs could move an article to the review queue at their discretion. For content not suitable for automatic publication, TSEs could flag it for a formal review process.
- Focus on balanced but dynamic measurement. Call center personnel tend to achieve the numbers that you provide to them as a goal, so firms need to take great care to measure results and not activities. For example, rather than focusing on the article-to-case link rate, Symantec focused on the variance of each team member's link rate from the team average. If it got too high or too low, the TSE would receive a review and coaching.
The result? More than 2,000 pieces of new or improved content are added to the knowledgebase on a weekly basis. Symantec was able to shave weeks off the average time to publish articles, and the company saw its operational costs decrease by $500,000 a year.