Via is a transportation network and real-time ride sharing company. Unlike other ride sharing options, Via Transportation places a major focus on their drivers, offering hourly wages instead of the per-trip model. A startup with multiple customer support contact centers, Via realized a well-adopted knowledge base was the key to keeping support agents and drivers on the same page.

So that’s when they invested in learning and development — and Guru — to support team communication and onboard drivers quickly and confidently. But when the COVID-19 pandemic forced them to make critical changes to their business, they developed into a fully knowledge-driven culture, and saw Guru adoption skyrocket.

We wanted to learn more, so we sat down with Jonathan Hoffman, Associate Principal of Learning & Development at Via Transportation about how his team led a global remote workforce through major business transitions (including the launch of a new line of business) with a targeted Guru strategy.

 

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Launching and organizing knowledge in Guru

Jonathan, could you tell us a little bit more about your specific role and what you do at Via Transportation?

Jonathan: Sure. I joined back in December to [focus on] learning and development. I come from an education background, having done Teach for America after college and worked for [multiple] charter schools. When I took the learning and development role, they had just launched Guru. 

Guru is primarily used with our customer service agents, but has become quite a useful tool across the company. I oversee the overall vision [of knowledge at Via], where we want it to go and the processes we want to implement. [We use Guru now for] daily updates across all cities. 

How does Via organize knowledge in Guru?

Via operates in more than 20 countries. This led us to set up collections for each geographic location, focusing on market-related information instead of department-related information. Knowledge within Guru is created for internal and external use, serving riders, driver support teams, and drivers themselves, who are often pulling up knowledge on the ground.

We don't send updates on Slack anymore, only knowledge alerts. 

[All updates] are through Guru. Guru is our single source of truth, and it’s used in every deployment we have across the world where we provide customer support. 

The COVID-19 effect

How did the COVID-19 pandemic affect Via Transportation?

When news of COVID-19 and safety measures were shared in early March, there was so much information we had to get out to our agents, including what services were suspended and how we would be keeping drivers and riders safe.

Via_On-Demand_Seniors-3_2-1Source: Via Transportation

Guru made that transition a lot easier and less chaotic because we were able to collect information from internal parties and get that to agents quickly. Information about policies about wearing masks and cleaning vehicles was available in one go-to Guru Card, giving agents a source of reference to help them handle rider and driver calls with confidence. Now, we send out daily knowledge alerts across all cities. If you’re an agent that reads the knowledge alert, you're good to go. 

I’ll share a recent example of how we use Guru for this: Our drivers for our paratransit service in Virginia are essential workers, but their cars were being stopped by the police. We sent an alert to agents explaining what to tell drivers in that situation. 

Originally, we weren’t utilizing knowledge alerts, but COVID-19 forced us to get more organized and figure out how we could improve the way we use Guru, which then changed how we actually schedule our agents. 

Part-time agents may have a day or two in-between shifts. Before we started doing knowledge alerts and implementing this approach, agents would have to scroll through a bunch of Slack channels to see if information was correct. They’d spend a lot of time asking the same questions over and over again. Now, a critical feature of their day is making sure they read through their daily update on Guru so that they know all the information that has changed since their last shift. 

The Card is organized by categories. For example, we have a coronavirus category, a paratransit category, etc. I update the same Card every day, adding the current date at the top. I list out relevant information and reminders under each category, linking Guru Cards together. This helps us identify knowledge gaps as well, prompting us to create new knowledge and share it with others throughout the day. 

Using Guru to manage remote knowledge

What advice would you give to knowledge leaders rolling out Guru to remote teams?

Start small, be strategic, and make sure people know what Guru is and how it’s going to impact their work in a positive way. When we first launched Guru, we were a little overwhelmed at how much knowledge we had, how to organize it, and how to get it out to the team. It felt like a Herculean task! So, we started breaking it out into smaller steps by asking “What are the most important things people need to know?” and built up from that approach.

☝️Learn where to start with knowledge governance.

At first, we were trying to do too much. We weren't considering how to actually get people invested in the platform. What did our agents really want out of this platform, and what were their pain points? Thinking about what would be most helpful for our audience helped us be successful. 

After our original launch, we had to go back and do some retraining. [Among other things] we realized we needed to redo our tags because those weren't making sense. If you’re rolling out Guru to your teams, do the groundwork to identify why your team needs this platform. Start really small, and get really good at one thing with Guru. Once you are successful, you can add on from there. 

Via_On-Demand_Bridge-2Source: Via Transportation

What strategies did you use to organize your knowledge, increase adoption rates, and measure success?

We built out a group section that included the best ways to search and get information from subject matter experts. 

We built an internal Guru section and used that to train team members on the best practices and tips to get high adoption. Even when we had only 30% adoption, we [used Guru analytics] to identify what Cards people were using the most. That told us a lot in terms of what information was most helpful to them. We asked ourselves, “how can we get more information like that to our agents?”

I check adoption rates pretty frequently. I send a weekly report of Guru usage to our team leads. They can actually see their agents’ stats including how many Cards they’ve copied, etc. 

I look at Card copies a lot, because it gives us insight into repeat questions that could be occurring in slack. If someone asks a question on Slack and that information is in guru, we encourage people to answer with a Guru Card so they can learn the correct process. This prevents them from asking the same question, looking for the short answer, days later. 

As we get more time to devote to it, we’re continuing to look into metrics and measure our success.

After using Guru how important would you say a knowledge management tool is to your team? 

Guru is a critical [knowledge management tool]. I don't think we could function at the level we are at without Guru, and we want to get even better. Guru is an essential function of our customer support business.

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