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Knowledge Management – Where’s the ROI?


KM KnowledgeWhen problems in our daily lives require a solution, we first try to reflect on our previous experiences and our acquired knowledge to affect a resolution.  We may have dealt with exactly the same issue or similar ones in the past.  We may be aware of similar problems that others have faced and resolved.  If we don’t have the solution in our own experiences, we may ask others, or “Google” the problem for a known solution.  Collectively, these sources make up our personal Knowledge Base and the processes we use to identify, recall, and to source the knowledge is part of our own Knowledge Management system.

The service and support industry operates in much the same way.  People, Processes, and Technology make up the Knowledge Management System.  The generally accepted definition for Knowledge in the service industry is:

Information that is stored and that can be used (or consumed) more than once; specifically information that is consumed in the course of serving a customer, but excludes customer data.

Due to the ever increasing complexity of products and services, Knowledge is rapidly becoming the single most important factor in the delivery of successful customer support.  Support oriented Knowledge is indeed part of the company’s Intellectual Property or IP.  Support agents are now being asked to become Knowledge Workers.  They are increasingly utilizing sophisticated technology to capture and manage the wealth of information needed to support complex solutions.

Companies have invested $millions over the past 20 years in the name of KM.  KM software, processes and strategies, have all been part of the support industry’s continuous development.  Yet despite a great deal of research,technology advancements and evangelizing, I have yet to see anyone really get it right.  There appears to be no magic bullet to building the complete, effective and consistent KM system.

The reasons for these failures are many and varied but I contend every unsuccessful rollout has at least one of these truths in common:

  • Measurement systems are perfectly designed to drive the results they achieve
  • Organizations are perfectly designed to deliver the results they deliver
  • Knowledge Context is either ignored or is directed internally and not customer focused
  • Search engines are designed to search; knowledge is not designed to be found
  • Knowledge is not easily consumable by the customer
  • “Rediscovery” is valued and rewarded; not understood and eliminated.
  • The goals for KM are focused internally, “cost reduction”?

To avoid the mistakes of the past, it is imperative we embrace change and act with the realization that organizational knowledge is increasingly critical to success.  An organization’s knowledge can and should be the most valuable asset of any Support team.  We have to embrace organizational knowledge. Employees should be valued for what they know and how they contribute to and utilize the knowledge base to make customers successful.  Metrics need to be centered on the development, capture, reuse and refinement of knowledge.  KM taxonomies should be developed from a customer perspective not from an internal product view.  Knowledge has to be easily consumable by the customer.  And, the ultimate goal must be to eliminate all exceptions through the passionate use of knowledge.

If you are not satisfied with how your organization leverages its knowledge, check the list above.  Ridding your Knowledge Management strategy of these all too common characteristics can be the difference maker.

ServTrans…powered by customers, driven by knowledge!


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