business_metrics_imageKM practitioners seek to extend the benefits of search-driven KM beyond support where it is generally implemented first, and where it has resulted in key advances in customer satisfaction and loyalty.  How can we measure the success of our Support-centric KM program, in order to extend it to the rest of the company?  In a series of blogs I’ll look at the various Support KM metrics and seek to align them to other areas of the business.  We’ll start with an obvious one – HR benefits that should translate directly to the rest of the business.

1: HR Metrics

The key HR metrics which are easy to measure, and which are positively impacted by search-driven KM in the Support arena, include the following:


Time to Contribution


By presenting the right information at the right time based on the support agent’s context, support organizations find that the proficiency of users increases: Level 1 agents are able to perform at a deeper and broader level, which enables the flattening of the support organization. Teams hire fewer specialists, agents have higher levels of satisfaction from more accomplishment, hence less turnover, and require less training time, significantly shortening the time to contribution.

Here’s how this is measured:

Compensation: Pre- and post-implementation salary levels for the same jobs.

Reduction in time to contribution (measured by the time prior to newly hired agents handling customer contacts both pre and post-implementation X the fully burdened hourly rate for the time spent training, prior to handling calls)

Cost of turnover (typically 2x average annual compensation, fully burdened)  X amount of annual turnover (subtract post implementation projections from pre-implementation records)

Here’s an example:

Following their implementation of Coveo, and some other improvements in their processes (see in-depth case study here), a Life Sciences company began hiring for customer support skills vs medical technology degrees, resulting in significantly lower compensation requirements. This company was also able to locate new agents in emerging geographies, closer to customers and at significantly less cost than in developed centers.

At the same time, this company had a reduction in time to contribution from two years to two months, or a whopping 11 times less training time. Specific reductions will depend on complexity of products supported and experience of new hires. Most organizations can use a conservative range of from 20% to 50% faster time to contribution for new hires.

Retention is currently being measured, and we expect an increase of at a minimum 15%.

Certainly these measures are important beyond Customer Support. Proficiency is particularly important when there is a skills shortage, as multiple studies have uncovered and predicted to increase substantially. Being able to hire for aptitude and attitude, and helping people learn on the job by presenting relevant knowledge when and where they need it – which is when they are most likely to internalize and remember it – can help.

Consider an extension to the sales organization. Many sales leaders focus on “moving the middle,” which is where 60% of the sales reps perform – under goal, rather than at the level of the 20% of top performers (20% / 60% / 20% distribution of top, middle, bottom is common in sales organizations). Moving more of the middle to the top increases revenue significantly, with more top performers hitting and exceeding quota goals. Proficiency, while just one component of sales success, can be particularly difficult to achieve when there are multiple and complex product lines, a young sales organization, and/or geographically distributed teams.  Studies show that 87 % of training is lost within the first 60 days following the training. Presenting the relevant knowledge – be it a video tutorial before a key sales call or the best presentation to share with a particular prospect – at the time of need will increase proficiency for the future and increase the odds of winning in the present.

How does your organization increase the proficiency of its employees?