Posted tagged ‘KB’

Have You Refreshed Your KB Lately?

January 5, 2011

Like many people, I spent much of Christmas day doing tech support, setting up new toys Santa brought me. My favorite is a 3G Microcell cell phone tower from Cisco and AT&T that plugs into my DSL line and gives me–are you ready for this–FIVE BARS of cell service. A miracle for this mountain dweller, who has spent the last 5 years running out of the house and down the driveway to get more than 1/2 bar anytime someone called me on my cell. Another great toy is a Zomm, a Bluetooth ‘wireless leash’ for my phone. If you spend half your life searching for your cell phone, as I embarrassingly do, this is the gadget for you. It now hangs permanently around my neck and starts beeping anytime I’m more than 20 feet from my phone.

While setting up both of these systems was fairly easy, I did run into small problems with each and accessed self-help to solve the issues. And I ran into the same problem I have any time I attempt self-help–my problem doesn’t exist in the knowledgebase. It is beyond frustrating. You encounter a problem that many new customers are likely to run into, and there is nothing online to address it. Usually, you can find hundreds–or even thousands–of conversations in a forum about the problem, yet the knowledgebase contains not a single reference to the issue.

And that brings me to the point of this post. Having just pulled the latest and greatest self-service success numbers from the TSIA Benchmark for a white paper, and finding the average has now dipped to 39%–an all time low–I ask myself: are we doing all we can to ensure customers are successful with self-service? And the answer clearly is: no way, Jose.

It seems that most self-service systems I use are filled with content that has been prepopulated–what companies anticipate customers will ask, not what they actually ask. How often are you reviewing your most commonly ask questions, including discussion forum conversations, and making sure those issues exist in, and are easily found in, your knowledgebase? This is a critical step in knowledge maintenance, and my experience tells me it is overlooked by many companies.

So here is my challenge to you. Identify your top 10 most frequently asked questions by customers. And run a report to get this information, don’t assume you know what those 10 issues are! Then go to your self-service knowledgebase and try to find the answer to all 10, using simple user-oriented search terms. Even a truer test? Call one of your favorite customers and ask them to search your knowledgebase for all 10 issues, since they won’t know the automatic tags or search terms to use. If you can find all 10, you get my admiration and sincere thanks on behalf of customers everywhere. If you can’t find all 10, you have just identified a project to attack in 2011. And I’d encourage you to make it a priority.

Hope all of your new Christmas toys are up and running and delivering value, and if you do run into problems, you may want to start with the discussion forum–with a score of 3.5, it is kicking the knowledgebase’s ass. 😉

Happy New Year to everyone, and as always, thanks for reading!


Making Knowledge Work for You: Interview with David Kay, KM Guru

August 12, 2010

When I analyzed all of my member inquiries for 2009, 31%–nearly a third–related to knowledge management, search, and web self-service. You’ve all heard me complain about how shockingly low self-service success rates are, with the industry average dipping down to 40% at the beginning of 2010. Clearly this is an area that companies haven’t figured out, even though spending on knowledge technology has been strong for the last decade and a half.

Wouldn’t it be nice to spend a day with someone who has all the answers? Here’s your chance. At our Fall TSW conference in Las Vegas, David Kay will present a full day workshop, “Making Knowledge Work for You: Best Practices in Support KM,” Monday, October 18 from 8am-2pm. David is founder of DB Kay & Assoc, and co author of Collective Wisdom: Transforming Support with Knowledge, a must read for all support knowledge workers. David is my go-to guy for all things knowledge, and I wanted to take this opportunity to interview him about his workshop, and why KM is such a challenge for today’s support organizations.

John Ragsdale: What a pleasure to speak with you David! I’m excited about your upcoming KM Workshop, “Making Knowledge Work for You: Best Practices in Support KM.” You have spent time with many SSPA and TSIA members over the years, helping them create new knowledge processes and implement new tools. What would you say are the 3 most common problems you find regarding KM initiatives within tech support?

David Kay: I’m excited about the workshop at the Las Vegas TSW conference!  We always have great conversations. The three problems I see the most have changed over the past several years.  It used to be that KM efforts lacked executive sponsorship, but–as your numbers suggest–most support executives understand the benefits of knowledge, so that’s less of a problem.  What we’re seeing instead is resistance among operational managers, measurement challenges, and a paralyzing fear of being wrong.

I feel for the operational managers I work with.  Every day, some executive stops by and says, “hey, do this one other new thing,” and then walks away before the poor manager can ask, “what do I get to STOP doing?”  With rising pressure to serve more customers, with more complex issues, with constrained resources, it’s not surprising to me that they see knowledge management as just one more thing they don’t have time to do.

The reality, of course, is that knowledge management will really streamline the job of support.  Done right. it makes the job not only more efficient, but more fun:  who wants to answer the same question over and over again?  But line managers will need some convincing, and expecting that line managers will support KM just because they’re told to is a mistake.

Knowledge measures are different from other support measures.  Typical measures are straightforward:  all things being equal, we should close more cases per person, resolve cases more quickly, and get higher CSAT scores.  But when it comes to knowledge, numbers don’t tell the whole story.  Is authoring more content good?  Yes…but only if it’s needed, and if it’s findable, usable, accurate, and timely–otherwise more content is actually bad.  Knowledge measures require a mindset shift.

Finally, there’s something about writing something down in a knowledgebase that makes people just a little…crazy.  Say someone to a customer, OK…write it in an email…fine…but write it in the knowledgebase?  EMERGENCY!  EMERGENCY!  Someone’s going to take their entire network down!  Let’s get 13 subject experts to review it first, with a side trip to Marketing and Legal.  Never mind that, by the time the content goes through its review process, we’re going to be shipping the next major product release.

I don’t mean to be cavalier about quality, and much of the work that Jennifer and I do with clients involves building quality and continuous improvement into the KM process.  But even if your knowledgebase is 100% perfect today, customers will still misinterpret it, and it’ll be obsolete tomorrow morning.  Perfection isn’t an option, any more than it is in product development or in case resolution.  The goal is the most value for customers, and efficiency for ourselves.  And I find this requires taking a deep cleansing breath and giving up the illusion that perfection is an option, while figuring out how to get things as right as possible, as quickly as possible.

The ROI of KM: Building a Business Case for KM Investments

September 8, 2008

Some of the most frequent questions I receive from SSPA members are in regard to the ROI of knowledgebases (KBs) and knowledge management (KM) for support.  Questions like:

  1. How do you measure KM effectiveness or ROI?
  2. How do my KM results measure up to other companies?
  3. How do I estimate the ROI for a proposed KM project?

Based in part on a presentation I built for a an Inquira webcast series on this topic, I finally committed to paper an overview of the metrics impacted by support knowledgebases, along with benchmarks (from the SSPA benchmark database) for each metric (where available), with the overall industry average as well as averages for B2B and B2C support.  The metrics are divided into 4 different areas of KM impacts:  Employee Productivity, Interaction Volume and Cost, Customer Satisfaction, and (believe it or not) Revenue and Repurchase.  I also have a section on emerging metrics for customer discussion forums/communities.

For long time KM experts, this may not seem like rocket science.  But what I have found is that different companies track, and care about, different metrics.  While most of the metrics are interrelated, some companies are only concerned with particular views of the data, so I felt it was important to look beyond the usual productivity metrics and include how upticks in employee performance impact other areas.  Here are a couple of examples: (more…)