Knowledge is power, especially when it comes to business. The more information you have about your target market and your competitors, the better you are able to provide the right services at the right price to the right people. Not only that, but
Having knowledge gives your business a competitive edge.
Knowledge-Centered Support (also known as Knowledge-Centered Service) is yet another concept that holds that knowledge is absolutely vital to the success of your business.
What is Knowledge-Centered Support (KCS) exactly? And, more importantly, why does it matter?
Read on to learn the following:
- Knowledge-Centered Support (KCS) definition
- KCS principles
- Why KCS matters
- KCS methodology and steps to creating an effective strategy
- KCS best practices
Ready to get a leg up in your industry?
Defining Knowledge-Centered Support (KCS)
The business world is full of fancy terms for seemingly basic concepts. But Knowledge-Centered Support is definitely one you should know. Especially when it comes to “putting out fires” in your business.
KCS is a customer service and support methodology that asserts that knowledge is a crucial asset to an organization when it comes to solving customer problems and improving the overall efficiency and effectiveness of the support process. The goal of KCS is to enable customer support teams to quickly and accurately resolve customer issues by leveraging a comprehensive knowledge base and a structured process for capturing and sharing new knowledge.
Without knowledge, a business’ customer support system is doomed to bottlenecks, miscommunication, disorganization, and frustrated customers. A KCS environment helps to prevent these issues as customer support teams work closely with subject matter experts and other stakeholders to continuously improve and expand upon the organization's collective knowledge as it pertains to solving customer issues.
This involves capturing and organizing information about common customer problems, as well as documenting the steps and best practices for resolving those problems. Support teams can then use this knowledge to quickly and accurately resolve customer issues, and can also contribute new knowledge to the base as they encounter and resolve new problems.
KCS is designed to be a continuous improvement process, with the goal of reducing the time and effort required to resolve customer issues, improving customer satisfaction, and increasing the efficiency of the support process. By leveraging a comprehensive knowledge base and a structured process for capturing and sharing new knowledge, KCS helps organizations to improve the quality and effectiveness of their customer support efforts.
Knowledge-Centered Core Support Principles
An effective customer support system consists of:
- A customer-focused approach and
- A knowledge-centered system.
Most businesses know that the key to great customer service is listening to customers’ concerns, but do you know how to implement a support system that’s actually organized?
If not, then it’s worth digging into the core principles of knowledge-centered service methodology:
- Collaboration: KCS encourages collaboration and sharing of knowledge among team members. This helps to ensure that all team members have access to the most current and accurate information.
- Continuous improvement: KCS focuses on continuous improvement, with the goal of increasing the quality and effectiveness of the organization's knowledge assets over time.
- Customer focus: KCS puts the needs of the customer first and seeks to provide timely, accurate, and relevant information to customers.
- Measurement: KCS uses metrics to track the effectiveness of the organization's knowledge management efforts and to identify areas for improvement.
- Reuse: KCS encourages the reuse of existing knowledge assets rather than creating new ones, in order to save time and resources.
- Structured process: KCS follows a structured process for creating, maintaining, and sharing knowledge, which helps to ensure the quality and reliability of the information.
In case it wasn’t clear, KCS is about more than just having a database of information on hand; it’s about setting your support team up for success. The result is happier employees, happier customers, and, let’s be frank, a happier business bank account.
Why Does KCS Matter?
KCS matters because it is the other side of the coin that is effective customer support. While taking a sympathetic approach helps with customer relations, KCS helps you create an organized, streamlined support system that cuts down on time, costs, and resources.
The main goals of the KCS methodology are to:
- Increase the efficiency of your support desk
- Aid in the dissemination of tribal knowledge as well as tacit knowledge across your organization as well as help make this knowledge explicit
- Improve the quality of customer-facing support resources and content
- Improve customer satisfaction while encouraging repeat business
- Create a knowledge base that's consistently updated for both customers and support team members to access when and how they need to
Benefits of Knowledge-Centered Support
In order to reach these goals for your own business, you need to implement a KCS methodology.
This involves capturing knowledge, organizing it, and distributing it in the right way. We’ll get into how to do that in a bit. But first, let’s go into some of the benefits of KCS:
- Reduction in business operating costs
- Greater customer satisfaction
- Better support team satisfaction
- Less time spent on training your support team
- Faster customer service response times
- Enables self-service options for customers
- Faster conflict resolution
Do any of these benefits sound like they could make a difference for your business? If so, read on to find out how to apply KCS to your business.
Knowledge-Centered Support Methodology
In Knowledge-Centered Support, the terms "solve" and "evolve" refer to two different stages of the KCS process that follows an infinite loop of capturing, structuring, reusing, and improving content.
Solve refers to the process of resolving a customer issue or problem through the use of knowledge. In the solve stage, KCS practitioners use the knowledge resources available to them, including the knowledge management system (KMS) and other knowledge sources, to find the information needed to resolve the issue. The goal of the solve stage is to provide a quick and effective resolution to the customer's problem.
The solve stage can be broken up as follows:
- Capture: In the capture stage, knowledge is created or captured during customer interactions or other support activities. This may involve creating new knowledge content or updating existing content based on the resolution of customer issues or new information learned through support interactions.
- Structure: In the structure stage, knowledge content is organized and stored in a way that makes it easy to find and access (typically through the use of a knowledge base). This may involve classifying content according to relevant categories or tags, and linking related content to create a logical structure for the knowledge base.
- Reuse: In the reuse stage, knowledge is shared and applied to resolve customer issues or complete other support tasks. This may involve searching your knowledge base, knowledge management software, or other knowledge resources for relevant information and then using the knowledge content to guide the resolution of customer issues.
- Improve: In the improve stage, the KCS process is continuously evaluated and improved to ensure that it is meeting the goals and objectives of the organization. This may involve gathering feedback from support staff and customers, analyzing data on the use and effectiveness of KCS, and making changes as needed to improve the process.
Evolve refers to the process of continuously improving the KCS process and knowledge resources. In the evolve stage, KCS practitioners review and update knowledge content, assess the effectiveness of the KCS process, and make changes as needed to improve the process and ensure that it is meeting the needs of the organization and its customers. The goal of the evolve stage is to ensure that the KCS process is continuously improving and evolving to meet the changing needs of the organization.
The evolve stage can be broken up as follows:
- Content health: Content health refers to the overall quality and effectiveness of the knowledge content in the KCS process. This may include factors such as the accuracy, relevance, and currency of the content, as well as its usability and user satisfaction.
- Process integration: Process integration refers to the integration of the KCS process into the overall support workflow and business processes of the organization. This may involve incorporating KCS into the support process, using KCS to support other business processes, and integrating KCS with other systems and tools.
- Performance assessment: Performance assessment involves regularly measuring and evaluating the effectiveness of the KCS process, including the quality and accuracy of knowledge content, the efficiency of the KCS process, and the impact of KCS on customer satisfaction and support staff productivity.
- Leadership & communication: Leadership and communication are critical for the success of the KCS process. This may involve establishing clear goals and objectives for KCS, establishing a governance model to manage the KCS process, and ensuring that there is effective communication and collaboration among KCS practitioners and other stakeholders.
Overall, solve and evolve end up being a continuous loop in the KCS process, as the solve stage relies on the knowledge resources developed and maintained in the evolve stage, and the evolve stage is driven by the feedback and insights gained through the solve stage.
6 Steps to Effective Knowledge-Centered Support
The following steps can help with implementing an effective KCS system that helps with improving customer support and the efficiency of support processes.
Step 1: Identify the Goals and Scope for KCS
Developing an effective KCS strategy involves identifying the goals and objectives of the KCS implementation and defining the scope of the KCS process.
There are a several things you'll want to do here:
- Identify the need for KCS: The first step in developing a KCS strategy is to understand the need for it within the organization. This may involve analyzing customer support data to identify areas where KCS could be beneficial, or conducting interviews with support staff to understand current challenges and opportunities for improvement.
- Define the scope of the KCS implementation: Once the need for KCS has been identified, the next step is to define the scope of the KCS implementation. This may involve determining which products or services will be covered by KCS, which support channels will be supported, and which support staff will be involved in the KCS process.
- Identify key stakeholders: It is important to identify the key stakeholders in the KCS implementation, including support staff, subject matter experts, and customers. These stakeholders will be instrumental in the success of the KCS process and should be included in the development of the KCS strategy.
- Set goals and objectives: The KCS strategy should include clear goals and objectives for the KCS implementation. These goals should be specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound (SMART). Examples of goals for a KCS implementation may include improving customer satisfaction, reducing the time it takes to resolve customer issues, or increasing the efficiency of the support process.
Step 2: Set Up the Proper Infrastructure Using Knowledge Management
Once you've identified the actual need for KCS for your organization as well as the parties that will be responsible to help with implementation of the process, you'll need to create the right infrastructure to help support the KCS methodology.
To start, you'll need to identify the content that needs to be created, organized, and shared. This may include information about products, services, processes, and policies, as well as common customer inquiries and solutions.
To do this effectively, you'll want to make use of knowledge management to help with:
- Capturing knowledge from various sources, including customer interactions, support inquiries, and internal processes and procedures. This knowledge can then be organized and stored in a central location for easy access and use.
- Facilitating knowledge sharing and knowledge transfer among team members so that anyone that's involved with the customer support and service process has access to the information they need to do their jobs effectively.
- Organizing knowledge in a way that makes it easy to find and use. This can include features such as search capabilities, tagging, and categorization.
- Maintaining accuracy and relevance to ensure that the knowledge being shared and transferred remains relevant and useful for customer support and other business purposes.
Step 3: Make Use of Technology
Using software to support Knowledge-Centered Support (KCS) can be an effective way to store, organize, and manage a knowledge base, as well as to enable access to it by support staff and customers.
Some tools that you'll want to make use of include:
- Knowledge management software to store, organize, and manage your organization's knowledge. They typically include features such as search functionality, categorization, tagging, and version control, as well as tools for creating and updating content. While there are many types of knowledge management tools, you'll want to particularly pay attention at making use of knowledge base software. Your knowledge base can include a wide range of content, such as frequently asked questions (FAQs), troubleshooting guides, how-to guides, product documentation, and other relevant information. Support staff can use the knowledge base to find answers to customer inquiries, which can help to improve the efficiency of the support process and the overall customer experience.
- Internal communication tools such as chat platforms, email, and project management software can help employees share knowledge and collaborate on projects. For example, an employee might use an internal chat platform to ask a colleague for information or to share a document related to a customer issue. This can help to facilitate the sharing of knowledge and expertise within the organization and improve the overall efficiency of the support process.
- Self-service portals to allow customers to access your company's knowledge base and find answers to their own questions without needing to contact support staff directly. This can help to reduce the workload on support staff and improve the customer experience.
- Ticketing software can be used to manage and track customer inquiries as they come in, and can also be integrated with the knowledge base to help support staff quickly find relevant information to address customer issues. This can help to streamline the support process and improve the overall customer experience.
- Issue tracking software can be useful for tracking and managing customer support inquiries and issues, as well as for identifying and prioritizing areas for improvement.
It's important that you choose technology that aligns with the needs and goals of your organization, as well as one that is easy to use and adopt by your team. The right technology should help your organizations improve efficiency, reduce response times, and increase customer satisfaction as part of supporting your KCS initiatives.
Step 4: Train KCS Practitioners
Before starting KCS training, it is important to provide an overview of the KCS methodology and its goals. This means going over the KCS process and emphasizing the importance capturing, storing, and sharing knowledge in order to improve efficiency and customer satisfaction. It is important to explain each step of the process in detail and provide examples of how it can be applied in practice. This can help practitioners to understand the purpose and benefits of KCS, as well as the expectations for their role as KCS practitioners.
Once you've emphasized the importance of implementing KCS, the steps involved, and how it can help your organization with providing better service and support to your customers, it's time to familiarize your KCS practitioners with the tools and resources that your organization plans on using as part of the step for setting up a proper KCS infrastructure (as mentioned in the previous step).
Since KCS is an ongoing process that requires practitioners to continuously improve their skills and knowledge, you'll want to ensure you enable knowledge sharing activities as a way to support the training and development of your practitioners. These activities can help to foster a culture of continuous organizational learning and improvement within the organization and can be an effective way to support the development of new skills and knowledge among practitioners.
- Communities of practice (CoP) often form around specific domains of knowledge or practice, and provide a space for members to share their experiences, ask questions, and collaborate on projects. In the context of KCS, a community of practice can provide a supportive and collaborative environment for practitioners to share their knowledge and learn from one another as they work to implement the KCS methodology in their organization. CoPs can also serve as a valuable resource for practitioners seeking guidance or support as they work to continuously improve the quality and effectiveness of their organization's knowledge management practices.
- Mentorship to provide valuable support and guidance to practitioners as they work to implement the methodology in their organization. This could include helping practitioners understand the principles and practices of KCS, providing feedback and advice on how to apply KCS effectively in their work, and supporting practitioners as they develop and hone their skills in knowledge management. Mentorship can also be an important way to foster a culture of continuous learning and improvement within an organization, as mentors can help to provide ongoing support and guidance to practitioners as they work to continuously improve the quality and effectiveness of their knowledge management practices.
- Peer review sessions where practitioners work together to review and provide feedback on each other's work which can be useful to identify areas for improvement and support continuous learning.
Step 5: Implement the KCS Process
Once the infrastructure and training are in place, the KCS process can be implemented. This may involve creating a process for capturing knowledge during customer interactions, reviewing and publishing knowledge content, and incorporating KCS into the support workflow.
Step 6: Monitor and Improve Over Time
Following a KCS methodology allows your team to tap into and to contribute to your organization’s collective knowledge. Beyond that, they play an active role in improving the content over time.
As agents use the content to solve customer problems, they get a chance to review the content for gaps. They can edit the content to be more helpful and up-to-date. Thus, the content is ever-evolving and getting better.
Knowledge Centered Support Best Practices
Knowledge-Centered Support works similarly to how Wikipedia does. It is a database of information created by users, for users. It is continuously added to. It is continuously fact-checked and edited. It is able to be accessed by readers and contributors alike, as long as they have an internet connection.
Your KCS system and connected knowledge base will continue to work as long as your support team members are on board. KCS requires a collective effort in order for your content to stay relevant, current, helpful, and organized.
Best practices for Knowledge-Centered Support include:
- Educating your support team on what KCS is and why it matters
- Informing each team member of what their role is in the KCS process
- Using the right knowledge base software to keep content organized
- Constantly adding new content to your knowledge base
- Incentivizing your team members to make improvements to the existing content
- Emphasizing the benefits of reusing content versus making new content
- Staying in tune to what your customers want and need
Remember, KCS starts with the customers. Your goal is to make content relevant to them. Then, you can structure and reuse this content in a way that cuts down on customer service response times, cuts down on costs, and make your support team’s job easier. This will keep your customers happy and decrease your bottom line significantly.
Get Knowledge Centered Support and Training
The benefits of offering Knowledge-Centered Support are obvious.
Happier customers? Check.
Happier support team? Check.
Money and time saved on answering customer questions? Check.
If you think you could benefit from some of these perks in your business, we highly recommend implementing KCS today.
We can help. Helpjuice offers knowledge base software for businesses looking to streamline their customer support process and increase team collaboration.
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