Knowledge lies at the heart of every service desk. It’s how agents respond to problems and learn about the systems they administer. It’s what we pass along to customers when we walk them through a fix. Before embracing knowledge-centered service (KCS), it was something that lived only in the minds of the agents and customer service reps on the front lines of those fixes.
In 1992, all that changed when knowledge experts started making an argument for building knowledge-based creation and maintenance into the customer service process. Today knowledge-centered service, or KCS, is common. Many large, successful companies have been testing, developing, and improving on it for years.
Still, the argument around the tangible benefits of KCS continues. Just how necessary is it? In this article, we’ll define KCS, how to effectively utilize it, and whether practicing it is good for an organization.
What is Knowledge-Centered Service?
Customers have questions. Your support team has answers. How do you connect the two in a way that doesn’t overburden either? This is where knowledge centered service plays a big role.
The core concept of KCS is knowledge management. This is getting existing knowledge out of people’s heads and into a content format that’s accessible to those that need it. But KCS takes this one step further, by building that knowledge sharing process into the service management process.
In service request management, each time agents handle customer issues, they first consult the knowledge base to see if a fix is already documented in a knowledge article. If so, they follow the steps outlined in the article, updating it along the way if needed.
If no such documentation exists, the agent uses the enterprise’s established process to find a solution while also capturing the issue and its resolution in a new knowledge base article.
Knowledge sharing empowers the self service success of your customers and your employees. Rather than emphasizing value on knowledge hoarding, information is placed where it can be accessed, like in a knowledge base.
But how can KCS help you create an efficient end-to-end customer experience that scales? Let’s dig into the principles of knowledge centered service.
What Are The Principles of Knowledge Centered Service?
KCS principles uphold the idea that you should solve a problem once and share the solution as often as there is a demand for it. This approach allows you to realize huge gains in operational efficiency, employee morale, and customer satisfaction.
So who solves the problem? The person best suited to provide the solution.
KCS principles put knowledge creation activities into the hands of the knowledge worker — the one who knows the answer. This way workers can capture the context and intent of the requestor. This improves the success and quality of your company’s collective knowledge. Without knowledge-centered service methodology, not only does information get lost, you might create conflicting content and efficient self-service becomes nearly impossible.
Does Your Organization Need KCS?
If you’re wondering whether knowledge-centered service is right for your organization, here are some initial questions to ask:
- Does your business rely on delivering high-quality information or knowledge?
- Do customers, partners or employees request information from people in the organization and expect an accurate, timely response?
- Are these requests repeated by multiple requestors?
- Do you have a separate team that is in charge of creating and publishing knowledge internally in the organization or externally to customers?
- Do you want a solid, knowledge-based customer success team in your organization?
Watch Tammy Willey, from Jacobs Engineering Group, discuss how they implemented KCS to enable sales and improve knowledge-sharing in the organization, with the help of Coveo.
If you answered yes to any of these questions, there is a high probability that KCS is worth exploring for your organization. With it, your organization will be able to focus on creating content as a by-product of solving problems.
There’s a good chance that you have YouTube videos, FAQs, troubleshooting guides, legacy knowledge articles, and more. Each contains valuable information that would enable your customer, partners, and employees to achieve self-service success.
But even with all that content, your customer might not be able to find them without help. That’s where AI-powered search comes in.
The first thing our customers do is start their web journey with search, and they were very verbal about the bad search experience they were having.Pattabhi Raman, Global Associate Director, Informatica
If your content lives in silos, that information will be hard to find. With AI-powered search, you can develop a one-stop-shop for information.
How Does AI-Powered Search Help With KCS?
In an interview with Coveo, Keri Rogers, the Program Manager (learning) of Ultimate Software said:
In streamlining our search experience across all of our customer-facing platforms, we really saved them a ton of time, and in general have seen a lot more self service success for our customers.
Using AI-powered customer service maximizes your KCS system. With artificial intelligence, your customer gets the most relevant content for their query — along with personalized recommendations. This boosts the effectiveness of your self service.
Additional benefits of AI-powered customer service search are:
- “Prophetic” customer support: Using AI search in your knowledge base means that you get to make recommendations that can predict customer needs based on previous interactions and queries.
- Best-in-class case deflection: Imagine recommending helpful content to a customer before they submit a query, based on what they fill in the case submission form. This is possible with AI-powered search.
- Intuitive content gap identification: With AI, you can keep track of any event where a customer searches but doesn’t find any helpful content. This would help you see any gaps you need to fill in your organization’s knowledge base.
All this helps to develop an up-to-date unified knowledge base of your collective experiences to deliver the relevant information your visitors expect.
Why Adopt AI-Powered KCS Practices Now?
Did you know that it costs an average of $105 to solve a customer case using traditional support means?
Members of the CSI have refined KCS best practices over the last 25 years to continually meet the demands of customers and organizations. Companies that follow CSI guidelines regarding the KCS adoption program benefit from significant improvements, including:
- 50 – 60% improved time to resolution
- 50% increase in first call resolution
- Optimization of resources
- Enable efficient self-service with a 25%-66% success rate.
- Improved content
How Can You Implement KCS in Your Organization?
Before you start, you should try to spend some time creating a KCS adoption roadmap. Implementing KCS is a commitment to a journey, not a destination.
Now how exactly can you implement KCS in your organization?
How you use KCS differs depending on the needs of your company, but these five steps can help guide your journey.
- Set your KCS goals. What do you want to achieve with this process? Discuss this with the relevant members of your team and set attainable expectations.
- Determine your process. Which methodology will you use? Which of the KCS best practices would be the right fit for your organization? This is the step where strategy comes into play.
- Make it easy for your team. As you think, plan, and pore over strategy, remember to make the process easy for the knowledge workers.
- Set up your knowledge service software. Do your research so you know which platform is right for your company, and then set it up.
- After doing all the groundwork, you need to invest in some KCS training for your team. Teach them how to adopt and adapt to the new system.
Want to see what this looks like in practice? Check out our AthenaHealth case study.
The crucial component separating the good from bad customer support is the customer’s experience and the effectiveness and speed of the help they get. The key differentiator for the potency of the help lies in Knowledge-centered service, and AI search helps with speed.
Looking for ways to improve your hybrid workforce’s access to information? The key might just be connecting, rather than expanding, your tech stack.
And if you’re worried if your knowledge base can support remote work, check out our seven tips for readying your knowledge base for hybrid work.
Get a holistic view of the digital workplace of tomorrow in our ebook, Build a Connected Workplace for Your Remote Workforce.