If you had to list the qualities you look for in a customer service agent, what would you say? Perhaps, you hire people who are patient, compassionate, quick problem-solvers, and strong communicators. However, have you ever considered how "knowledgeable" a candidate is?
It's interesting how knowledge isn't at the forefront of customer service. This characteristic is outweighed by others like speed and efficiency, which have nothing to do with solving customer problems. Speed and efficiency are important, but they don't mean anything if you can't resolve your customers' issues.
When your service team is more knowledgeable, they become better problem-solvers and more attentive listeners. Embracing knowledge-centered support (KCS®) creates a better system for sharing knowledge from customer to employee, employee to employee, and employee to customer.
In this post, let's break down what KCS is, then we'll list some resources that can help you implement it on your customer service team.
What Is Knowledge-Centered Support (KCS)?
KCS is a service methodology that involves creating, sharing, and maintaining knowledge. Knowledge is attained based on customer needs and integrated into content that's shared on a knowledge base. This creates a cycle where knowledge influences the problem-solving process, and problem-solving contributes to more recorded solutions.
An effective KCS system involves two knowledge "loops." These loops are sets of actions that your team must take to attain and distribute knowledge. Let's discuss the four steps in each loop, beginning with the "Solve Loop."
1. Capturing Content for Your Knowledge Base
When your agents are answering customer questions, you should be recording these interactions for further analysis. Take note of your most common questions and look for any unusual trends in your data. This will help you write knowledge base articles that are meaningful to your customers because they're based on customer needs.
2. Structuring Your Knowledge Base
Your knowledge base should be user-friendly and easy to access. It should be structured so that customers and employees can quickly search for information without having to dig through irrelevant posts. Consider using tags and other categorization tools to organize your knowledge base and improve user experience.
3. Sharing Your Knowledge Base Articles
The content you've created shouldn't be used by just your customers. Your service agents should use this knowledge base when dealing with customers who have similar inquiries and concerns. These articles can provide background information for agents and help them better understand the customer's issue.
4. Improving Your Knowledge Base
As your knowledge base grows, your agents should be reviewing and editing your existing content. After all, a process may become outdated or a new agent may have more information to add to a topic. Refining your knowledge base will ensure posts are up to date, making it a more reliable resource.
5. Maintaining Content Health
Your agents should set a standard for all of your articles will meet. Based on these expectations, articles should be assessed for their quality as well as their value to employees and customers. Remove any articles that don't meet your standards as this content will only distract your knowledge base users.
6. Integrating New Processes
Once your expectations are set, you'll need a process for creating consistent knowledge base content. This system will make sure every post has the same tone, feel, and style as the next. By integrating a set process for content creation, you'll achieve a frictionless harmony between the "Solve Loop," incident management tools, and your customer-facing knowledge base.
7. Assessing Your Performance
Assessing the performance of individuals and teams is crucial to building a successful KCS system. Your team should agree on KPIs and set specific goals to reach each quarter. It also helps to obtain customer feedback on your knowledge base to see where you can improve user experience.
8. Communicating to Employees
Management and other company leaders should ensure every member of their organization understands KCS and how it benefits each employee. Additionally, leaders should constantly assess whether these benefits are actually being delivered as promised.
Achieving these steps can often be easier said than done. In many cases, adopting KCS requires your team to undergo in-depth training.
The KCS v6 Fundamentals certification is a training certification that's specifically targeted towards teams that use KCS as a means of problem-solving for customers. This is a paid, entry-level certification that helps organizations develop a basic understanding of KCS. If you're interested, the KCS Academy includes a reading list that covers the principles, core concepts, and practices that are included in the course.
If you're interested in adopting KCS for your business, take a look at some of the KCS resources we've gathered below.
18 KCS Resources
The Consortium for Service Innovation offers a plethora of resources that can help you learn more about KCS. Here are some of our top resources to bookmark:
1. KCS Principles and Core Concepts
This document offers a foundation for the KCS methodology. It also covers the four principles and ten core concepts that are crucial to KCS.
2. KCS v6 Practices Guide
This guide describes the basic practices and techniques incorporated into the KCS methodology. It also gives a more in-depth look into the Solve and Evolve Loops.
3. KCS v6 Adoption Guide
This guide covers a step-by-step process for adopting KCS into your own organization. It offers tips on how to successfully incorporate the methodology including how to get your team to embrace procedural changes.
Tips and Hints
4. Frequently Asked Questions about KSC v6
These FAQ's cover topics like how KCS was developed, who owns the methodology, and how to legally use and share KCS data. This will help your team avoid any legal trouble when using KCS.
5. Glossary of KCS Terms
Some of the KCS terminologies can get quite confusing. Refer to this appendix for important definitions that you'll need to know when educating yourself or others on KCS.
6. Metrics Matrix
This appendix lists the KCS metrics that can be used by your organization to analyze your performance. You'll need this to measure how effective your new support system is.
7. Article Quality Quick Reference Guide
This is a great tool that helps your team build a structure for your knowledge base articles. This guide covers everything from layout to style tips that you can use to optimize customer experience.
8. Stakeholder Engagement Matrix
This matrix offers techniques for building and maintaining stakeholder engagement through every phase of your adoption process. You can use this resource to explain to stakeholders why KCS is a good move for your company.
9. Measurement Matters
This document provides an in-depth look at the short- and long-term benefits that KCS can offer. This document is important for convincing employees and other stakeholders that KCS will be beneficial to the business.
10. New vs. Known Methodology
This paper introduces the New vs. Known study, which assesses the health and effectiveness of an organization's KCS practices. You can compare your business to the ones in this study to see if you can improve any function in your KCS system.
The following case studies discuss the experiences of different organizations that have adopted the KCS methodology.
Quest set a goal of publishing 90% of its solutions to its knowledge base before the support case is closed. Now, 70% of its support cases are solved using a knowledge base article.
12. HP Enterprise
HP used KCS to build a customer-centric knowledge base. Since its creation, HP has observed a 400% increase in customer self-service solutions. That means that more customers at HP are finding their own solutions without reaching out to a service rep.
Omgeo focused on embracing the activities in the "Evolve Loop." They analyzed groups of articles to see if there were any patterns in usage, traffic, or navigation. From its research, Omgeo was able to highlight more opportunities to improve the customer experience.
Mathworks used KCS to create a knowledge base that would centralize information for its customers. By adding this resource, customers began engaging with the company more than they had in the past. In fact, Mathworks saw a 50% boost in customer comments after the installation of its knowledge base. This gives the company more chances to interact with users including opportunities to upsell and cross-sell.
There are also great KCS resources that were created outside the KCS Academy and the Consortium for Service Innovation. We listed a few below.
15. What is Knowledge Centered Service? KCS Explained
This blog post covers the definition, history, loops, benefits, and uses of KCS. This is a great post for someone who wants to gain all the information in the resources above but in a more concise format.
16. What is Knowledge-Centered Support (KCS) and Why is it Important?
This blog post is a very brief read describing KCS and how it can be evolved and used in the future. This is a good read for employees who are looking for a quick explanation of KCS.
17. Do you know about Knowledge-Centered Service?
This LinkedIn article covers the goals of KCS, some key concepts, and additional management resources. This is a great piece for understanding the basic fundamentals of KCS.
18. 3 Ways Knowledge-Centered Support (KCS) Improves ITSM
This blog post explains KCS best practices that are specific for IT service management. If you're looking to adopt KCS for your IT team, this offers a great explanation of how that can impact your business.
If you're looking for a knowledge base software to run your KCS system on, check out HubSpot's Service Hub here.