How hot is your knowledge management program? 3 ways to take its temperature

taking-temperatureYou’ve set your goals for the year, and you think you’re making progress. But, is it enough progress? As we enter Q2, now is a good time to take the temperature of your KM plan, and determine if the progress you’re making is sufficient or if additional changes need to come. Here are some signs to look out for that you still have work to do on your KM plan.

You don’t have a KM management plan in place.

This is the most obvious sign you’re in need of a change, of course. However, the importance of your company having a plan to not only capture knowledge, but also to eliminate less-useful content, cannot be overstated. As any company grows, it collects content in the knowledge base that needs an update or is no longer needed at all. It’s crucial for your customers’ satisfaction and that of your customer support agents to create a knowledge management plan to identify out-of-date content and how it is to be handled. If your company doesn’t have a KM plan in place already, mark this year as the time to start one and transform your knowledge management practices.

Your customer support reps don’t know how to handle certain customer issues, so they escalate them to their managers.

Do your customer service reps do this often? There may be a couple of reasons behind this practice. Perhaps your CSRs have insufficient information available to them in the knowledge base to instruct them on how to handle these customer issues, or perhaps the answer exists, but they simply don’t know how to find it in a rapid fashion. Either way, if your CSRs are defaulting to a state where they send issues with an unknown solution to their manager, it’s time to think about how to transform your KM plan. You need to have best practices in place for collecting undocumented solutions and adding the missing solution to the knowledge base, as well as procedures for communicating the location of those answers to your CSRs so that they can find the solutions they need on the fly.

Your customer support reps only discuss issue resolutions amongst themselves.

It’s all well and good for your customer support reps to discuss amongst themselves best practices for handling specific customer issues, but if there is no involvement in those discussions from the knowledge management team, you are losing valuable knowledge, simply by your team’s exclusion from the conversation. You need to add procedures into your KM plan for meeting with your CSRs and including them in the knowledge management process. The more they are included in your KM plan, the knowledge base, and the transformations you made to both, the more confident the CSRs become that they can turn to the knowledge base for whatever information they need. This makes your CS team advocates for your KM plan, and every voice in your corner counts when it comes to buy-in for future changes you want to make to the knowledge base and the KM plan.

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On April 28th, we are following up on our popular guidebook, How to Build a Knowledge Management Transformation Plan that Wins Executive Support with a webinar on The 5 Biggest KM Transformation Challenges You’ll Face.

Join us for proactive solutions and advice to overcome the obstacles that hold back your knowledge management program.

Knowledge Base Migration: Preparing your content for a move

Are you looking ahead to the new year and your plans for a new knowledge base to house your content? Have you also thought about how to move your content into the new knowledge base?

Whether moving furniture from one house to another or content from one knowledge base to another, moves are easier when a clear plan is established. Let’s discuss how you can get started planning your content migration.

Step 1: Decide what will be the scope of your migration.

Depending on your industry, you may need to bring all of your content over to the new knowledge base, due to regulatory requirements, or you may be able to leave some behind. If the scope of the migration is large, especially if you’re bringing everything, it’s a best practice to rank each area of content, with the highest priority items moving to the new knowledge base first.Moving content into new knowledge base

If you’re only moving some of your content, you need to do an analysis on your legacy content to establish which content moves and which content can be archived elsewhere. We suggest you use the 80-20 rule: roughly 20% of your content is used most often by your end users. This is the content that you’ll move. For the other 80%, you can always come back later and identify additional content to migrate.

Step 2: Decide whether to clean up your content now or later.

No doubt some of your content is older that the rest. Maybe some content doesn’t follow your newest guidelines. Maybe content is out of date and needs updated. While you may be tempted chuck all of the content for migration into the new tool and clean it up later, a better practice is to clean up the content as you migrate it.

If you decide to clean the content as it’s migrated, here are additional things to consider:

Taxonomy: How will you structure content in the new tool? Use the same old structure, or establish a new structure? The latter may be helpful for buy-in for the new tool if your content managers or customer service agents have suggested changes to the taxonomy to resolve issues they’ve encountered.

Look and feel: How will your content look in the new tool? If the old style guidelines worked well, you may decide to replicate those styles in the new tool, but if there are tweaks you’ve been waiting for the right time make them, now is the time to implement changes.

Accuracy and consistency: Finally, it’s a good idea to establish parameters for tidying up any inconsistencies in knowledge presentation and accuracy, as well as flagging out of date content.

Step 3: Plan for a pilot program

Once you’ve planned how the content will be migrated, the last step is to consider parameters for a pilot program. You should identify the stakeholders in the migration, a block of content to be migrated as a test, the individuals who’ll do the work, and anyone who will need to review the migrated content. The migration team should include at least one subject matter expert on the content, especially if the migration team consists of outside contractors without prior knowledge of your content. The team of reviewers should also include at least one SME, as well as any applicable stakeholders.

Step 4:  Pitch your plan to others and gain sign-off for your plan

Behind every customer experience transformation initiative, there are business challenges that are on the minds of executive leaders. Make it a priority to gather specifics on budget allocations for this initiative. It is absolutely critical that you understand expectations around budgeting before moving forward. When you make your pitch, establish specific goals/objectives to measure impact. Put numbers to the business impacts that are measured.

Once you’ve established your migration plan and gained sign-off on your initiative, you’re set to build out your teams and plan the execution phase.

 

Projects are Out, Programs are In: Tackling Knowledge Management The Effective Way

program-project-fieldDid you know that 91% of customers would rather use a support site, instead of use phone support to get help for their support issues, if a company has a support site tailored it to their needs? If you’re trying to reduce your company’s support call volume, this is good news. But, also be aware that 45% of customers will toss online purchases they were about to make, if a support site doesn’t allow them to quickly find answers to their questions.

To attract that 91% of customers to your company’s support site, and avoid that 45% potential loss, it isn’t enough for your company to simply build up the knowledge available on your support site so that it contains all of the answers your customers could ever search for. You need to establish a plan of attack for building up the support site and maintaining the knowledge within it. This is where a knowledge management project and a knowledge management program come into play.

You might ask, what’s the difference between a project and a program? Aren’t they the same thing? They’re related, yes, but certainly not the same thing.

A project is a high-level goal you want to accomplish, whereas a program is the definition of the project’s goals and the roadmap for how you will reach the project goals. Think of it this way – if knowledge management was a sport like football, winning a football game would be the project, and the players in the game, the plays the coach has prepped, and the statistics generated during the game would be the program.

So, how do you create that roadmap so that you can see success for your project?

Define the Vision of Your KM Program

In order to begin planning out your KM program, you need to define what it is you want to accomplish within the program. Part of this is to identify what kind of support experience your customers want and how you want to deliver on that expectation.

Next, decide on what level of effort is needed to accomplish the goals you’ve defined. This may be as simple as creating a high-level outline of the work to be accomplished, or you may need to bring in some additional data to better define the required effort.

Define the Success Metrics for Your KM Program

Before you can plan out steps for accomplishing the vision of your KM program, you need to set some milestones for yourself, both short-term and long-term. These milestones will help your roadmap take shape.

When you know what your milestones are, determine what the success markers for each milestone will be and how you will measure the success metrics. For example, if one of your milestones is to improve on the searchability of your support site, you might utilize usage data to determine how easy it is for users to locate answers on the support site. However, for something like improving customer satisfaction, you may need to employ customer surveys.

And, lastly, you need to decide how to act on the goals you want to accomplish at each milestone in the program. Ask yourself, what steps need to be executed to meet each of those success metrics? Knowing what steps need to be taken to reach your milestones is crucial to successful implementation of your program.

Put all of these pieces together, and you will have taken your KM project to the next level. You will have a well-developed KM program that will help you attract and retain customers looking for help on your company’s support site.

Further Reading

whitepaper_managing-knowledge_thumb (1)Irrevo’s recent white paper, Managing Knowledge to Achieve Greater Impact, takes a deeper dive into the processes and success measures behind transitioning your knowledge program from short-term project approach to a long-term program. Download it today!