If you want all of your support agents to deliver excellent service, a good place to start is with Knowledge-Centered Service (KCS).
KCS is not something you do in addition to solving problems… KCS becomes the way you solve problems.– KCS Academy
To get the full benefit of KCS you need to implement it completely. However, that can prove quite cumbersome and you’ll face challenges along the way – such as the difficulty of getting all agents to buy in completely. Fortunately, it’s possible to take some of the best things from KCS and use them to improve agent performance and satisfaction, which will inevitably also lead to improved customer satisfaction.
This is my quick-guide to the parts of KCS that I’ve found highly useful in the past and I’m sure you’ll benefit from as well.
Before continuing I should mention that the benefit of working with KCS grows with your contact volume. Or at least you need to have a certain amount of contacts for it to be beneficial. If you only have a few customers calling or writing per day, KCS is probably not for you.
What is Knowledge-Centered Service?
By way of introducing KCS, I’ll turn to someone who has championed KCS from the get-go, the Consortium for Service Innovation’s introduction:
The starting premise for KCS was to capture structure, and re-use support knowledge.
In short, Knowledge-Centered Service is a methodology and a set of practices and processes that focus on knowledge as the single most important element of the support organization. It’s not a tool, but generally speaking the use of a certain tool – the knowledge base – is a key ingredient in working with KCS.
Going a bit deeper, the Consortium for Service Innovation further states that
KCS seeks to:
- Create content as by-product of solving problems
- Evolve content based on demand and usage
- Develop a knowledge base of an organization’s collective experience to-date
- Reward learning, collaboration, sharing and improving
The benefits cited by implementing KCS are many and often overstated. But if your starting point is somewhere close to this description
“we are fairly specialized, have no self-service solution for customers, spend at least several weeks training new agents, and only some of our agents are multiskilled”
… then you’ll find that KCSs enables your agents to solve cases faster and more often the first time (First Contact Resolution rate really does improve a lot) and easily become multiskilled. You’ll also see a decreased training period (at my previous employer we went from 14 to two days) and finally an increase in employee satisfaction.
It’ll also enable a self-service strategy as KCS captures knowledge for your agents that often will be useful to customers online. In turn, that’ll deflect contacts and decrease your contact volume.
And finally, KCS makes root cause analysis possible which will help you rally the rest of your organization to your cause of improving customer satisfaction through improvements to communication, processes, products and services.
As I said, I’ve seen some crazy numbers cited after a successful implementation of KCS (and our training period reduction certainly was just that, crazy), but I won’t state them here for fear of simply being branded a liar or KCS-fanatic. I’d rather paint a picture of how things could be and then let you gauge the potential for yourself.
In order to fully understand what makes KCS brilliant, I need to take you through some knowledge management theory first. Bear with me, please.
The Support Demand Curve
Almost any issue with multiple contacts to a contact center follows the support demand curve: a demand rises, peaks and recedes.