Why Knowledge Centered Support Matters and How it can Impact Your Key Support Metrics

March 07, 2017 by Alex Yamamoto

How do you empower your support agents to find the knowledge they need to efficiently solve customer issues? How do you create a culture that puts knowledge sharing and collaboration at the forefront to benefit the entire team? These questions should be top of mind for support leaders, and are the key questions the Knowledge Centered Support (KCS) methodology addresses.

Even though the methodology has been around since 1992 and been through 6 iterations, KCS is still a relatively unknown term to support teams. However, KCS itself should sound familiar in concept:

  • Integrate the creation, improvement, and re-use of knowledge into the ticket solving process
  • Evolve content based on demand and usage
  • Develop a knowledge base of collective experience to date
  • Reward learning, collaboration, sharing, and improving

While traditional approaches to knowledge tend to have it concentrated in the hands of a few subject matter experts for the use of many, KCS believes the key to a thriving support organization is a “many-to-many” model that empowers individual support agents to contribute to the knowledge base and integrates it into their workflow.

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At the heart of KCS is the concept of double loop learning. The first loop, which is called the solve loop is the learning that comes solving individual ticket requests. In KCS, every interaction results in one of three things:

  1. Agent solves the ticket by reusing existing knowledge that is still up-to-date.
  2. Agent solves the ticket with existing knowledge, but some parts are not up-to-date. Agent either updates the knowledge base or flags it for review.
  3. Agent solves the ticket but needs to create a completely new internal knowledge base article.  

In KCS, your individual agents are empowered to keep knowledge base articles up-to-date, flag articles for review, or create new ones if they have not been added yet. The second loop, the evolve loop is learning for your entire organization that occurs from analyzing patterns and trends across all of your support tickets, which enables your team to identify improvements.

You may be reading this and thinking, “How is this revolutionary? Isn’t this how all support teams learn and improve?” However, while the concepts may seem ordinary, it is in practice where KCS starts to shine.

KCS Matters Today Because of the Ways Customer Support is Evolving

If there’s one constant in the world of support it’s that customers continue to hold businesses to the highest standard. Even as customers request support through more and more channels, 90% of them expect consistency and continuity from a brand across channels. Speed continues to be one of the most important factors as well with 73% of consumers saying that valuing their time is the most important thing companies can do to provide them with good customer service. So how can a business continue to provide quick and consistent support, even as the number of channels customers request support from increases?

One common way companies are keeping up is through an external help center. Self-service is quickly becoming the preferred way for customers to solve their problems. 91% of consumers said they would gladly use a self-service help center if there was one. Implementing KCS, which provides a proper process for documenting, disseminating, analyzing, and improving your support knowledge is an easy way to continually develop and improve your self-service help center.

One of the core principles of KCS is to be demand driven. That means consumer demand determines what knowledge has value and should be captured. The same can be said of what knowledge should be published in an external help center. The evolve loop process of analyzing customer support interactions can help decide what content should be published in your external help center initially and on an ongoing basis. KCS ensures there is a process in place to continually improve the way you support your customers with an external help center.

Equally as important as your external help center, is your internal, agent-facing knowledge base. Surprisingly, according to Forrester, less than half of contact center decision-makers report using one. In today’s world of support, not having an agent-facing knowledge base is like skydiving without a parachute! If you adopt KCS, a knowledge base will be the core piece of your KCS strategy as a key tenant is to integrate the use of a knowledge base into your agent’s workflow. During the solve loop process, agents are continually assessing and improving the health of your knowledge base and ingraining this workflow as a habit. When checking your knowledge base becomes a habit, it reduces repetitive questions and improves the quality of the content in your agent-facing knowledge base.

How KCS Methodology Improves Your Key Support Metrics

Ultimately, the adoption of KCS should lead to improvements in some of your key support team metrics like:

Improved time to first response and first call resolution

Support teams implementing KCS trust their knowledge base is up-to-date as it is built from a collective effort of all support agents. Since it is the single source of truth, agents also no longer have to wonder where to go to find information. As a result, agents spend less time searching for information, and can immediately address customer issues and solve problems in one call.

More consistency in response across your support team

In KCS, every agent’s solve loop workflow starts by checking the knowledge base, which means answers become consistent across your team as there is a uniform response for customer issues. 

Faster onboarding for new support agents

Using knowledge while in the context of your job (ie- accessing knowledge while answering a support ticket) is proven to be the fastest way to learn. According to the 70/20/10 model of learning, 70% of learning comes on-the-job versus 30% from coaching, reading or studying materials. Thus, KCS helps facilitate and increase the rate at which newly onboarded agents can get up to speed.

Improved CSAT scores

The result of improving the previous three metrics, should ultimately lead to overall improvements in your customer experience and your CSAT scores. The processes that are implemented as a result of adopting KCS tie directly to improving your customer’s support experience.

Are you now convinced that KCS can add value to your support team? Check out their best practices guide to learn how your team can adopt the methodology and improve your support team processes.