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Best Practices Series


Five Best Practices That Ensure Knowledge Management Success




6 Best Practices from the Global 2000

Consona CRM


Produced by: CRM Media

October 2009

CRM magazine Best Practices Series:

Knowledge Management: Awash in a Sea of Data

One thing is certain: The tidal wave of information flowing into our organizations (and into our brains) is only going to increase over timeperhaps exponentially. As a result, the sheer breadth and depth of all that information drowns out the recognition of solutions that should be simple to locate, easy to retrieve, and powerful to deploy. A deluge of data doesnt make decisions any easier. Of course, all organizations of any size grapple with the problem of capturing, organizing, validating, and distributing vast amounts of information from multiple sources into a usable knowledge base. But at best were just treading water. As the never-ending torrent of arriving data empties out into the oceans of data already on hand, were led to believe that by simply opening the floodgates across multiple channels, weve perfected the capture portion of process. Even if we briefly fool ourselves into believing we can handle the rising tide, completely new channels (such as social media) open up and the information floodwaters begin to rise again. Thankfully, a raft of knowledge management specialists have thought through the process and have begun to float innovative ideas for dynamically organizing and validating not only your own pool of data, but information gleaned through outside channels as well. The solutions they have to offer will calm these turbulent seas, and make information readily available to employees and customers alike. Instead of flailing about like a drowning man, you and your organization, empowered with these technologies, can instead cast a welldesigned net and comb the beaches of the enterprise, gazing out as the answers you seek come lapping up at your feet, rolling in from a well-constructed KM system delivering you intelligence thats relevant, concise, and dependable. Best regards, Bob Fernekees VP/Group Publisher CRM Media Information Today, Inc.

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October 2009

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Five Best Practices That Ensure Knowledge Management Success


Leading companies all over the world have significantly improved their customer service with well-executed knowledge management strategies. Knowledge management has transformed these companies, enabling them to harness the true value of information to improve overall service, cut costs, and boost customer satisfaction and revenues. For other organizations, knowledge management initiatives have been plagued with costly setbacks and obstacles. What can be done to ensure the success of your knowledge management initiative? While the specific goals and implementation requirements of knowledge management vary significantly for each organization, there are some best practices that have been proven to be common across industries and organization types. In the following pages, well describe five of the most crucial best practices that can benefit your knowledge management initiative, both in the nearand long-term.

The phrase people, process, and technology has been used so often it has become clich, but that doesnt mean its not true. Having the right knowledge management technologies in place is critical to establishing a scalable, successful knowledge management initiative. But the tools and technologies are only a mechanism that supports the underlying processes and the people who contribute, review and use the content on a daily basis.

How will you capture, reuse, maintain, and improve knowledge? Envisioning these processes and how they will be enacted are at the core of a successful deployment. Similarly, these processes are only as effective and successful as the people employing them. Engaging contributors, users and customers in using and improving the systems implemented is clearly vital. For internal audiences, this means that from the top of the organization on down, everyone understands and buys into the vision of knowledge management. Customer support isnt simply about being on a case-closing treadmill: its about sharing and improving knowledge and getting better at delivering service. In addition, staff members involvement in knowledge management needs to be formalized as part of their job descriptions and performance evaluations. For customers, this means that systems need significant testing and qualitycontrol before being rolled out. Phased implementation strategies are key to future success. Support portals need to deliver a great experience up front and provide high-quality, meaningful content right from the beginning. Further, customers need to be actively engaged, through discussion forums and interactive sessions where critical feedback is gained. For both audiences, champions of the project need to address the question, Whats in it for me? and they need to be able to articulate the value of the solution for everyone whos expected to interact with the system. In fact, the whole area of change leadershipgetting people aligned with

the initiative, getting them trained, and coaching their progressis probably where executives need to place most of their focus.

Thinking of your current content repository of support incidents as the ultimate source of knowledge will invariably lead you in the wrong direction. While important as a source of customer context, these cases are a poor substitute for true solutions-oriented knowledge content. Instead of simply using a search engine to provide a window on content that may be flooded with back-and-forth exchanges and little solution value, it is far better to develop quality content during the course of solving current cases. It is vital that this content development be made part of the resolution workflow. Indexing content that resides in other repositories can be a good way to quickly provide agents with access to useful content through search. However, in the long run, it is best to re-author the content that is related to the key service issues so that this content is more readily available through the multiple information retrieval options the knowledge management system provides. When re-authoring content for inclusion in the knowledgebase, break the information up into logical units or solutions. Agents should be able to quickly gain access to useful solutions content that is structured for access and reuse. It is vital that this content is concise, and that it provides a clear picture of the customer context. One of the most effective methods for developing

October 2009

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meaningful content is to fully integrate support agents in the knowledge creation and maintenance process. Empowering agents to contribute their expertise when demand requires it, is particularly useful for filling in knowledge gaps, especially for those infrequent or low-value questions that you have deliberately chosen not to address in the initial implementation because they do not heavily impact customer satisfaction or costs.

It is important to start with an understanding that knowledge content is fundamentally about answering questions. Further, this information is often very time-sensitive in nature. As history has shown, once an issue is detected, the bulk of inquiries into that subject arise within the first 30-45 days. Thats why its critical that organizations strive to accelerate their review processes as much as possible, while taking the steps required that ensure the quality and usefulness of information. Ultimately, organizations have to weigh the risk of having mistakes appear vs. the value of having content available quickly. This balance will be determined by your risk/reward policies, your industry standards and liability limits. How do you get quality knowledge content out quickly? Following are a few key points: Dont review everything. Rather than having everything reviewed before publishing, it tends to be far more effective to provide authority to those qualified to publish directly, and then review samples of published content to ensure content meets your quality standards. Dont do technical reviews outside of the customer context. A technical expert can review a solution and determine whether it sounds plausible or not, but it is very difficult to confirm whether it works or not without the specifics of the customer situation.

Often it simply isnt practical to replicate every customers environment in a lab, recreate the issue, and verify that a given fix works. It is far better to have technical reviews happen to content in the process of actually using it. Then users can flag or fix content that needs correction or improvement, which ensures accuracy while speeding content availability. Quite simply, your front-line customer service agents may be your best litmus testers for problem-resolution content. Allow them the authority to flag or revise content as they engage with the user. Content that has been flagged can then be reviewed for accuracy and consistency.

Organizations need to be involved in knowledge management for the long haul, and this needs to be reinforced from the top down and across the organization. Every team member needs to understand, Knowledge management is part of who we are and what we do. Building a long-term knowledge management strategy will underscore the organizations commitment to customer satisfaction and can be marketed as a competitive differentiator. The resulting improvements in customer service and reduced costs will pay dividends far beyond the cost of the technology.

Rather than requiring a specific number of content pieces per month or building incentives that encourage meaningless contributions, focus your authors and agents on delivering new content or content revisions that evolve from actual customer engagements. Setting up a reward system that is derived from content usability and supported by a system that tracks content usage and success rates will engender greater participation and higher satisfaction ratings from both content authors and content users. Managers should be looking at broader trends and desired business outcomes as their starting point for content creation. For example, a desired business outcome may be to reduce average handle time. Managers then need to put specific goals on activities like content creation, but map those goals to business outcomes. Similarly, participation rates need to be evaluated for each staff member. Finally, these goals need to be made part of employees performance reviews.

Knowledge management initiatives have been proven to deliver a range of significant benefits to customer support organizations, including increasing staff efficiencies, delivering cost savings, improving customer satisfaction, and much more. By focusing on a few key best practices, your organization can optimize the benefits of a well-thought-out knowledge management initiative and start enjoying the benefits of this technology sooner rather than later.
Christopher Hall VP Product Strategy InQuira Chris brings over twenty years of business experience as a senior marketing and product strategy professional in the enterprise software industry. Prior to joining InQuira, Chris was the Vice President in charge of the global product strategy initiatives at KANA Software. Chris has been Vice President of Worldwide Marketing for Chordiant where he pioneered the companys customer experience (Cx) branding and was Senior Director of Product Management for Silknet Software which launched a successful IPO in 1999.

Knowledge management cant be viewed as a one-time project with a discrete beginning and end. While any initiative is made up of disparate projects, knowledge management needs to be viewed as something larger; something permanent.

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October 2009

Knowledge Management for Stand-Out Customer Service:

6 Best Practices from the Global 2000

Customer service has emerged as one of the few remaining differentiators that businesses can sustain over time. Companies that are winning in this environment provide stand-out customer service by using knowledge to empower contact center agents and drive self-service interactions. In delivering KM solutions to worldclass contact centers and self-service operations for over 15 years, we have compiled hundreds of best practices that improve the odds of success in KM implementations, while maximizing ROI. Listed below are some of the popular ones.

topics will be covered, what the roles of various people in the team are, and plans for maintenance and use Users: high-performance contact center agents who provide suggestions Knowledge authors: individuals who are trained to use authoring tools Project manager: individual who keeps the project on track

Assessing expected and realized ROI before and after the deployment helps you justify the initial investment as well as ongoing maintenance of the knowledge base (KB), while elevating your visibility as a value creator for your business. Best Practice: Make sure the metrics you use are aligned with business objectives. For instance, if your main business goal is to increase upsell and cross-sell through knowledge-enabled contextual offers, reduction in call handle times will be a conflicting metric. As you assess ROI, keep in mind that KM delivers positive ROI in areas such as: Increase in first-time fixes and revenue through upsell and cross-sell Reduction in escalations, transfers, repeat calls, call handle times, training time, unwarranted product returns, field visits, and staff wage premiums

Ambitious deployments almost always result in a KB that is solid in places, but full of holes, like a slice of Swiss cheese. This is a recipe for failure, because if users cant find the answers, or get inadequate or wrong answers, they will quickly stop using the system. Best Practice: Focus on depth and quality rather than breadth. For instance, if an enterprise sells printers, scanners, and copiers, the best approach would be to cover one product line thoroughly first.

ordinary customers who may not know technical terms such as whether their mutual fund is no load, frontloaded, or back-loaded. Using jargon in questions posed by agents or self-service systems is a guaranteed way to increase escalations and customer defections. Best Practice: Find KB contributors that are both technically competent and not too far removed from customer contact. Successful customer service depends as much on the questions posed to customers as the answers.

Successful KM implementations start with the right team for knowledge capture and creation. Best Practice: Build a cross-functional team that can bring a 360 degree approach to knowledge creation. Best-practice teams typically include: Lead expert: individual who decides how the kb will be organized, which

A classic mistake in KM implementations is not making midcourse adjustments to keep the project on track. Best Practice: If the deployment appears to be falling behind schedule, narrow the scope of the KB and finish on schedule. In fact, it is better to widen the scope later to expand the benefits of the deployment. As a rough guide, a typical enterprise deployment should not take more than three months after the initial planning, with three or four full-time people engaged. Deployment includes software installation, knowledge gathering, and testing both the quality of the KB and system performance.

People have different ways of finding information, or the same person may use different methods to suit the situation. A flexible approach to information access dramatically improves user adoption and ROI. For instance, novice agents, whether they are in-house or outsourced, may find it difficult to wade through hundreds of search hits to find the right answer, but may fare better if they are guided through a dialog, powered by an inference engine. On the other hand, experienced agents may prefer to quickly process search hits. Best Practice: Provide users multiple ways to access informationFAQ, browse, search, and guided help. The key here is to make sure that the KB remains the same and there are no content silos.
ABOUT EGAIN eGain ( is the leading provider of multichannel customer service and knowledge management software for on-site or on-demand deployment. For over a decade, hundreds of the world's largest companies have relied on eGain to transform their traditional call centers, help desks, and web customer service operations into customer interaction hubs (CIHs) that help improve customer experience and optimize contact center performance.

Enterprises often make the mistake of relying solely on internally focused domain experts who rarely speak to customers. It is sometimes difficult for experts to get down to the level of

October 2009

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Knowledge Management is NOT a Side Dish!

Has a CRM or incident management vendor ever told you how wonderful their knowledge management module is? If so, steer clear. Knowledge is powerbut only when its deeply integrated into the customer experience, the agent experience, and the enabling technology. A vendor offering a knowledgebase module is telling you that their company views knowledge as an addon, an extra, just a side dish.

knowledgebaseand the organization as a wholebecomes that much smarter. Truly knowledge-driven CRM answers the business questions that really need to be answered: who is creating valuable knowledge? What gaps prevent effective self-service? What high-value product improvements we can make? Neither traditional CRM nor knowledge alone can provide answers.

something new, all can immediately share in the benefits.

Personalized Self-Service Portal

Service and support can benefit tremendously from knowledge: Support becomes more efficient. Rather than handling each customer request based only on their own experience, all customer-facing staff have access to the collective experience of the team. Problems are solved only once; agents dont repeat work that others have done. Customers help themselves. Call deflection saves money and makes for happier customers. The organization continually learns from its customers. Tracking the ways customers and agents use knowledge provides a measurable Voice of the Customer. With this information, products can be improved while the customer experience is enhanced. Unfortunately, its almost impossible to actually receive these benefits unless knowledge is at the heart of everything the organization doesstarting with CRM.

Despite the benefits of a best-of-breed knowledge management solution fully integrated with CRM, too many end up stuck with the dreaded module, which usually means: No rich text formatting, multimedia, or attachments. Rigid workflows that block internal sharing of work in progress No search of external resources, cutting users off from community-generated content, documentation and other valuable resources Simple, vanilla, keyword search There is little chance of achieving the benefits of KM with a simplistic KB module. Whats needed is a knowledgedriven CRM application built from the ground up to put knowledge in the center of the customer relationship.

Agents dont treat all customers exactly alikewhy should a self-service portal? One benefit of CRM is arming agents with information to personalize each conversation, taking into account the customers service level agreements, support tier, geography and products owned. Selfservice should extend the same courtesy but without knowledge-driven CRM, its just not possible. And, if self-service escalates, customers should have a seamless experience where the agent (via chat, phone, or any channel) can pick up where self-service left off. A customer should never need to tell an agent something that she already entered in self-service.
Analytics for Action and Insight

There is a great deal of excitement around the Voice of the Customer today but many companies are unsure how to capture it. Its hard to read too much into raw knowledge statistics. And CRM reporting rarely gives the product group sufficiently detailed information to take action. But combined knowledge and case reportingfor example, which knowledgebase articles closed the most casescan provide precision guidance into the root causes of customer frustration. The most important questions for support executives to answer lie at the intersection of knowledge and case management. Think of them as surf and turf neither one is a side dish, and they are most certainly better together. Only true knowledge-driven CRM provides clear answers.
ABOUT CONSONA CRM Consona CRM offers the only combined knowledge management and incident management product that is KCSsm Verified v4 by the Consortium for Service Innovation. More than 1,000 customers worldwide use Consona CRM solutions to manage process efficiencies, drive revenue and enable extraordinary customer experiences. Visit

Delivering knowledge-driven CRM requires a long list of features and deep integration. But it all boils down to a few big capabilities:
Integrated Resolution Workbench

CRM systems typically advertise themselves as the customer information repository of record. But information sitting passively in a repository doesnt do any good. In a knowledge-driven model, self-service puts that CRM data to work. When KM is deeply integrated with CRM, every customer interaction is an opportunity to capture, improve, or reuse knowledge. As a result, with every case the

Knowledge-driven CRM must provide an integrated resolution workbench that streamlines the agent experience with a single screen for all the tools they need. The resolution workbench should proactively deliver knowledge to agents based on information received to date. And the agent must be able to seamlessly capture both case notes and reusable knowledgebase articles on the fly, without retyping or copyand-paste. As one agent learns

thought leadership & lead generation

Dont miss out on the next opportunity to position your company as a thought leader in the CRM market and generate high value leads!

Upcoming Schedule
EMAIL MARKETING & DEMAND GENERATION (December 2009) Deadline: OCTOBER 19, 2009 SOFTWARE-AS-A-SERVICE (SAAS) (January 2010) Deadline: NOVEMBER 12, 2009 CONTACT CENTER SOLUTIONS (February 2010) Deadline: DECEMBER 14, 2009 ENTERPRISE MARKETING MANAGEMENT (March 2010) Deadline: JANUARY 14, 2010

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Adrienne Snyder (East/Midwest Account Director) 201-327-2773 Dennis Sullivan (Western Account Director) 800-248-8466 x538

October 2009

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Phone: 1-888-8-CONSONA or 1-317-249-1700 Email:

Bob Fernekees,
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Adrienne Snyder,
Eastern/Midwest Account Director 201-327-2773

Dennis Sullivan,
Western Account Director 800-248-8466 x538

Produced by: CRM Media

A Division of Information Today, Inc.