3 Truths every knowledge manager knows

Knowledge managers are a widely varied bunch. We work in different industries. We may be nestled into an org chart under IT, Customer Service, or Marketing. We support an internal audience, external customers, or a mix of the two. We may have a great knowledge program, or know that ours can improve. We may manage a team of individual contributors, or we may be in the trenches, getting personally involved in content creation.

3_checkboxes (1)Over the years, I’ve worked with hundreds of people who manage knowledge programs of all shapes and sizes. No matter what differences divide us, if you asked a few dozen knowledge managers what “Doing KM Right” means to them personally, you’d hear the same things over and over. We execute on our strategies in different ways, but every knowledge management professional holds these three truths at the core of their beliefs:

Good KM needs a vision

To create a great knowledge program, you have to know what success looks like. You, your leadership, your direct  reports, and your business partners need to understand what you’re working on, and how your actions play into organizational goals. So often we get caught up in the day-to-day business of creating content to support products and services that we lose sight of the bigger picture. Getting lost in the details is the difference between striving for improvement and just keeping the lights on.

Good KM needs guiding principles

Having a clearly defined vision of the experience you want your customers (internal and/or external) to have is paramount. Defining clear guiding principles (around 10 or so) that are the highest level requirements that your system and process should never compromise. These give you and your team the ability to make future decisions in the context of the real intent of your knowledge base program. Knowledge programs fail to achieve their potential when they lose track of this vision and the principles that were to be upheld. Revisiting these regularly and socializing them, will drive long-term improvements to your program and ensure a solid user experience.

Good KM needs partnership

Once you know where you’re going and how you’ll get there, you need support – and a lot of it. You need a supportive ear in leadership to green-light your budget and resource allocations. The cross-functional relationships you’ve built with your business partners are an important asset as you develop a holistic knowledge strategy. Of course, your end users, the people who benefit the most from the knowledge you capture, need to be brought into the loop in a meaningful way. Teamwork is critical to KM success.

Operationalizing your beliefs

We can all agree that these three truths are the keys to reaching your knowledge management goals, no matter how you define success. How do you combine vision, principles, and partnership to unlock your organization’s potential? Easy answer: Systematically. Through our experience building and managing successful KM programs, Irrevo has developed the KM Path Methodology to operationalize these core truths that are at the heart of every great KM program.

Our KM Path methodology organizes these pillars into six phases:

  • During the KM Innovation phase, you’ll outline your vision and build a high-level plan to meet your goals.
  • The Architecture Design phase moves further into decision-making, defining the requirements and scope, creating an achievable timeline, and identifying the right technologies to support the plan.
  • Executive Support is the critical phase in which you obtain buy-in from an executive sponsor and communicate your vision, plan, and goals to stakeholders.
  • After you’ve secured buy-in, you’re ready for the Build and Test phase where you’ll create the structure that supports your knowledge program: Processes, governance models, metrics, and content standards.
  • In the Launch phase, your plans come to fruition as you leverage new processes, update or migrate content,
  • The Optimize phase is what marks the difference between a once-and-done project and a living program.

Want to know more about how the KM Path methodology encapsulates the concepts you already know to be true? Check out the detailed plan for a list of actions, decisions, and deliverables you’ll need for your KM program.

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.



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.

Identify (and resolve!) support content issues with one precise exercise

hand-and-compassThere are times when you are looking for a quick win to give your customers an improved support site experience. You can have a big impact with focused content improvement efforts that align to your customers biggest concerns.

To get started, begin by doing some analysis on what types of issues your customers are asking about most frequently when they contact you. If you have data, dig into it and figure out what it is telling.  If you don’t have data to look at, poll the agents who work with customers directly.  They can easily tell you what questions they are frequently asked.

After you have the frequently asked questions, test your support site by searching for information for those questions. Remember that you are playing the part of a customer who doesn’t understand your system from the inside like you.  They are coming to your support site with very limited visibility into how it works.  If you are able to, it would be great to ask a customer to help you with this. Even if you engage with your customer remotely, via web conferencing, you will see and hear what the experience feels like for them.

Now, starting with one of the frequently asked questions, improve the content by assigning a knowledge engineer resource to address the issues with the content.  They should remove the outdated content and update existing content with better and more targeted information. Don’t be tempted to create a single long document with responses to each of these frequently asked questions. Since each question is important to many customers, it requires substantial content that aligns to their needs (not yours) and should be kept separate to support findability.

This is a very simple way to positively impact your customer’s experience with your support site.  Ideally, this should not take a long time, but should be a focused effort to ensure that it is completed well. Don’t forget that you will have to keep this content maintained to be helpful.

On March 31, I’ll be joined by an expert panel including Jordi Torras, Founder and CEO of Inbenta, for a webinar titled Preparing for the Next Evolution of Self-Service.

Join us to hear share actionable advice and strategies that will help you take your self-service experience to the next level.

The one person who can make or break your new knowledge program

The best laid plans of knowledge managers oft go astray, as the saying goes. It doesn’t have to be that way. Strategic planning up front that takes into consideration the pitfalls you’ll likely encounter greatly improves your success.

We asked the panelists for our recent webinar, Creating Institutional KM Change That Sticks, to share their thoughts on one essential question that’ll keep your change on track:

Who’s the most important person to have on your side as you implement a change? 

Melissa Burch, Knowledge Strategist, Irrevo:

Lasting change within an organization relies heavily on the ability of executive leaders to convey the strategic direction they are taking. It is difficult for team members to understand why they are doing something in a different way if they are not able to visualize the connection to the bigger picture. Successful change initiatives are ones where the executive leaders make those connections very clear to everyone. The messages from the executive leadership team need to be consistent and continuous to solidify the change into the muscle memory of the organization. Without the consistent involvement and support of the executive leaders, change initiatives will struggle to achieve results.

Jennifer Crippen, Senior Consultant, DB Kay & Associates:

The curators and consumers of the knowledge are the people I would make sure to have aligned and bought in to the plan and vison. That’s important to making it stick because when you get them to participate in the planning and decision making they gain a vested interest in seeing it come to fruition.

Dave Cutler, VP of Customer Success, Venafi:

In my opinion, the support analysts are the most important people to ‘win over’ to improve a knowledge management program, and it takes a focused effort to educate & engage each of those individuals so they become ‘converted’ to a new way of thinking in order to create lasting change.

Laurel Poertner, Knowledge Strategist, Irrevo:

It is hard to pick just one because like any team, if one group doesn’t pull their weight, it can fall apart. Many would say the Executive Sponsor is paramount to making a lasting change but the middle managers directly leading the knowledge workers have a greater impact. This group has one of the toughest jobs because they need to promote the change while keeping up with customer demands to show a smooth transition. There is tremendous pressure coming from all sides to allow the knowledge workers additional time to train and ramp up plus pressure from customers to keep services levels from dropping. These leaders need to see that their effort will bring value for their teams.

To hear more on this topic, and other tips on implementing change within your knowledge program, watch the recording of our webinar, Creating Institutional KM Change That Sticks.

The Experts Weigh In: Getting Your Knowledge Transformation off the Ground, Part 2

In our recent webinar, Build a Knowledge Management Transformation Plan that Wins Executive Support, our expert panel shared quite a few stories of how to get a successful KM program off the ground.

In this series of posts, Jennifer MacIntosh, VP of Customer Success at Coveo, is joined by Irrevo’s Knowledge Strategists, Melissa Burch and Laurel Poertner to address the incredibly insightful questions shared by our audience.

Q:  What is more important the technology or the process? Where do I start with the technology or the process?

Jennifer MacIntosh: I think it really depends on where you are on the journey, what your business outcomes are and what you’re really trying to drive at. So, it’s not a straightforward answer to say it’s one or the other. For me it’s always a combination of both. I’ve never done a knowledge management transformational project that didn’t require both technology and process. I don’t think it’s a matter of what’s first, it’s a matter of how do we ensure that we have both of these things working together and that we understand what changes need to be made on both sides of that equation.
Laurel Poertner: In my experience what I’ve done is look at the processes and gathered the requirements from that to try and understand if the current processes that are in place are meeting expectations, are they allowing us to get the business outcomes and objectives that we want moving forward, then look at the technology. I think a lot of times at the executive level they start and say “We’re going to change the technology” and so stepping back and taking a look at what does this technology really give us, and what are we doing today and what do we need to do to move forward. A lot of times you’ll find this technology can handle a lot of this and we need a change of technology but it can be quite expensive. So try not to jump to conclusions  or decisions that might impact something that big and take a look at what you’re doing with processes too.

Q: What kind of content do you suggest creating?

Melissa Burch: There are three ways you can start with that. The first one is to look at the content you already have available to your customers.
Identify what your end users or target audience are using today as a clue to indicate what you should do more of and also to identify what you should do less of. The second recommendation is to analyze your customer search behavior to understand what it is that they are searching for and then to extrapolate back what is valuable to your customers. The third would be analyzing your inbound customer inquiries or cases, what are customers asking for help on and let that also drive you to provide your customers exactly what they need related to those particular questions.

Jennifer MacIntosh: A couple things I’d like to add to that. If we start to look at cases, we have to remember that the cases coming into your support center represent a small fraction of the interactions that our customers are having, most customers are engaging with our content so I would tend to lean more toward what Melissa said and focusing in on what interactions are happening with the content you have available today. if you’re not publishing any content, we recommend that you start publishing some content to your customers whatever way you can. There are great tools available, I’ll throw a plug in here for Coveo, this is one of the areas that we do a really great job at, we can analyze and capture all the interactions of your website and help you understand what content is the most popular, which is the most valuable in your organization,  it can help you understand what search content people are using that will really help you design the type of knowledge your customers are looking for. Finally, if you don’t have any of those things available to you, there’s an easy way, ask them. Ask your customers what they’re looking for. It’s probably the most basic way you can do this. I think sometimes we shy  away from actually engaging with them, even if you have your support analysts, ask them at the end of a phone call, send a survey, post a survey on your website, there’s lots of different ways to get feedback and input from your customers and I’ve always found that they’re very willing to help us with those types of questions and give us lots of feedback that will set us in the right direction.

Laurel Poertner: To add to what Melissa said, what I have done in the past is to categorize your cases.  If you’ve got a ticketing system that has some reason codes use that information and if you don’t, analyze a sampling to understand what types of inquiries you’re getting. If it’s a lot of “how to”, if it’s a lot of installation problems, Knowing the kind of things your customers are asking can really help get you going in a particular direction and then you can expand on that.

Q: How do I start a KM program from scratch without an executive sponsor?

Jennifer MacIntosh: What’s the biggest pain point in your organization? Why all of a sudden do we need to have a knowledge manager? So is it that our support analysts are overwhelmed? That we have too much turnover, what’s the driving factor, the biggest pain in your organization that is causing you now to think that we ought to do this. So I would focus in on that and start to see how new tools and process around Knowledge Management could really help alleviate some of that pain and help to move that pain. Identify what’s you’re biggest pain point and do the research on how new Knowledge Management tools and processes help alleviate that pain.

Melissa Burch: I will echo that. Star with your pain points. Where you see opportunity to improve your Customer Experience . Many times the need around that Customer Experience  improvement almost always integrate with Knowledge Management. It might not be the only initiative that you embark on but it’s certainly one of the most common ones that we’ve seen. Mapping that problem to the solution. Out in the world there’s a  ton of information about Knowledge Management, impacts that it’s had, how people have implemented it. There are many case studies, there’s lots of organizations that are talking about this and have published information. Many times software vendors who are in the Knowledge Management space are putting out information that is of course highlighting how their particular technology solutions had an impact on Customer Experience , but it is Ok to look at those case studies and extrapolate that. If you were to make a change that is similar to one described the the case study, even if you don’t necessarily utilize the technology solutions that that particular vendor is offering. It’s still a scenario that you’ll have a positive customer impact. There’s a lot of evidence in the world. Identify what improvements you want to make and then take the information and see how a Knowledge Management program can make a positive impact there.

Laurel Poertner: I’ll also make a plug for Irrevo, we can also help you get that started with engaging with a Knowledge Management expert, talk through some of those things that Jennifer and Melissa just talked about. I think it’s great way to start that conversation. The other thing I was thinking of was the people part of that question. Who would I have in my organization to take something like this on, and I would ask for volunteers because this is something that I think you’ll find that there are people in your organization that have a passion for this whether they realize it or not you’ll get some of those people coming out of the woodwork, especially if you have an expert that comes in and starts those conversations you’ll start to see that this person or that person was really involved with these conversations and that will give you some of those answers.

Q: How do Customer Communities fit into the overall KM strategy? Are they integrated or distinct? I’m thinking of how knowledge gets data mined from a community and “promoted” into the KB (and whether or not this is even appropriate).

Laurel Poertner:  My personal experience is that there is huge value in the knowledge that comes from a community and it should always be leveraged in a self-service environment.  It is also extremely cost effective to companies because it takes very few resources to maintain once it is up and running.

I have seen examples of certain sites where customers can click a button to request that a particular thread be considered for inclusion in the knowledge base.  This would then need to be reviewed and converted into an authored document.  A more common approach is to offer a search filter on a community page.  This allows users to choose whether or not to search the community data along with other knowledge sources.  There are different schools of thought on whether to mine data from communities but I have seen it be very successful.

Learn MoreKnowledge Program Guidebook

If you missed the live broadcast, you can watch a recording of this webinar. Stay tuned to the Irrevo blog for more Q&A from this session, and follow us on Twitter to be the first to know when we share new answers.

Ready to implement a new Knowledge Strategy? Check out our latest white paper to learn more about getting executive buy-in for your knowledge transformation.

Knowledge-Centered Support℠ (KCS): Expert Answers to Your Implementation Questions

Recently, we hosted an expert panel discussion, Re-imagine Your Customer Experience With Knowledge-Centered Support (KCS℠), where industry experts shared some great insights on how a knowledgebase transformation can drive change throughout your business.

Our audience asked some very insightful questions, and we’ll be expanding on our answers in this upcoming series of blog posts.

Today, Melissa Burch and Laurel Poertner, Irrevo Knowledge Strategists, expand on some of the answers shared during yesterday’s webinar.

Once KCS is implemented, how do increase the adoption rate by your customer service team?

Laurel PoertnerStart talking about the KCS Continuum. KCS is a journey and there are so many things you can add to a KCS program that add value. Start by getting volunteers to learn and try out new practices and techniques and then have them present their findings to the rest of the organization. It gives them the opportunity to show what they have learned and you will have more “Champions” around the office that get KCS into more conversations.

Melissa BurchI have seen great success when knowledge sharing participants see the impact they are making. Provide regular communications that show all participants the number of people who are using content and the feedback it has received. It is so validating when the efforts are acknowledged and it is making a difference in the lives of customers.

The biggest challenge in rolling out KCS is getting buy-in. Can you share some thoughts about the initial increase of Average Handle Time and After Call Work (ACW)? 

Laurel PoertnerTypically, we have not seen an increase in AHT at all. People usually worry that it will happen but I have never experienced it. The investment is more around finding time to dedicate to coaching activities. I would definitely set aside some initial training/ramp up time around coaching. Testimonials and case studies may also help get buy in from upper management. No two KCS programs are alike so it is impossible to predict the impact on one organization vs. another but if you can find similar industries and share their successes with some detailed metrics, that usually helps. Finding someone with KCS program management experience to help with the initial assessment is also a great way to increase the chance for success.

Learn MoreKnowledge Program Guidebook

If you missed the live broadcast, you can watch a recording of this webinar. Stay tuned to the Irrevo blog for more Q&A from this session, and follow us on Twitter to be the first to know when we share new answers.

Ready to implement a new Knowledge Strategy? Check out our latest white paper to learn more about getting executive buy-in for your knowledge transformation.



Metrics that Matter: Going Beyond CSAT and NPS

analytics_groupIf you’re behind the Customer Service Operations curtain in any capacity, you’ve got strong feelings about which metrics tell the most comprehensive, actionable story of your customer experience. It’s easy to fall into a routine of looking at only a few of the heavy-hitting metrics, but to get a clear picture of your organization’s performance, it’s important to ask yourself what stories you might be missing out on by overlooking some of the alternatives to perennial favorites like CSAT and NPS.

We asked a few experts in the customer experience industry to tell us a little about their favorite metrics:


Melissa Burch, Senior Knowledge Strategist, Irrevo

I am a huge proponent of using a balanced scorecard approach to measurements with a small number of critical data points to monitor.  If you talk to me long enough, you will realize that I don’t recommend narrowing your measurement scope to just one data point.  However, there is one measurement that is often left off a balanced scorecard and this is the one where you measure and calculate your self-service success score.  Our friends at Oracle recently shared their approach to this.  I’ve summarized it here and encourage you to learn and then apply the measurement approach that works for you.

To do this, you need two data points to derive your success score.  The first data point is the number of times customers visit your support site and view at least one piece of information there. Don’t forget to include content, community forums and all other self-service options provided.  These are the total number of times your customers attempted self-service for the time period of your calculation.

The second piece of information is the self-service success rate. This is calculated based on data captured during the customer support site survey which asks users if they were successful at finding the information they were looking for.  The response to this customer survey question will give you your success rate.

Once you have these two data points, you can calculate your customer self-service success score by multiplying the number of self-service attempts by the success rate to determine your overall success score.  So for example, if your customers attempt to self service 1,000 times per month and you know that they are successful 50% of the time, then you have a self-service success score of 500.  This means that your self-service support offerings provided customers what they needed 500 times during that month.

After establishing your baseline self-service success score, identify ways to improve the self-service offerings in ways that drive greater value to your customers.  Use the self-service success score to monitor your impacts.

Tola Begbaaji, Discrete ERP Customer Solutions, Aptean

I don’t know that there is one metric. For me it is a triad – a combination of customer satisfaction, time to resolve, and time to respond. Put another way – customers want Q2R.  Quick, quality, resolution.  If a team is resolving issues quickly with quality, then typically their customers are satisfied. Each element is important.  A resolution is not just an answer to the ticket.  It is something that resolves their problem. It’s not enough to be quick. Speed is irrelevant when the solution is not high quality.  Quality of course speaks for itself, but the term implies completeness and thoroughness.

These three metrics help you to evaluate whether a support team is providing quick, quality resolutions on a regular basis. If the issues are being resolved quickly with quality, then customer satisfaction will tend to be high.  You can review the trends of time of respond and time to resolve to see if they are staying steady or if they are increasing or decreasing. For example, if time to resolve and time to respond are increasing, you will expect to see a corresponding decline in CSat.  If you don’t see this CSat decline, then it is a warning sign that the team may have a huge backlog, and they are only closing primarily the newest tickets.

So, in order to make the triad into one metric, I might call it something like CSaTimeToResolveRespond.  That would make a nice hashtag, don’t you think?  #csatimetoresolverespond

Laurel Poertner, Knowledge Strategist, Irrevo

A tried and true metric that gets a lot of attention from C level executives is Customer Satisfaction.  While I think this metric has its place in the corporate world, I believe it is short sighted and customer loyalty depicts the customer landscape for an organization much more clearly.  Customer loyalty, defined as the customer’s intention to keep doing business with the company, increase the amount they spend, or spread positive word of mouth can be measured by using the Customer Effort Score (CES).  CES asks the question “How much effort did you personally have to put forth to handle your request?” The reason this is such an important metric is the power it has to predict your customers’ intentions.  The more you can see what is coming the more time you have to prepare your organization to head off future issues.  This can also spur companies to implement new systems and processes to use the CES to make improvements that directly impact the customer experience and ultimately drive higher customer loyalty.

Elias Parker, Managing Partner, OneReach

There are a lot of call center metrics out there that measure customer satisfaction—CSAT, Net Promoter Score (NPS), even First Call Resolution (FCR). The way they measure satisfaction is different, but the end result is the same—to make sure the customer is happy. But what if I told you there was a call center metric that could do nothing but measure a customer’s happiness, one that tracked their satisfaction through every interaction? There is, and it’s called the Smiley Face Index (SFI).

The Smiley Face Index isn’t meant to displace other more complex call center metrics.  Rather, it’s just the simpler way of looking at customer satisfaction that we sometimes need. It literally measures the number of smiley faces exchanged by a customer and agent during a web-chat or text message interaction. Simply put, more smiley faces = more happy customers.

Learn more about the Smiley Face Index.

Matt Berger, Content Strategist, MindTouch

The one metric that support teams can’t ignore (but so many do) is organic web traffic – the measure of how many people find your help content through Google. On the surface, this seems to fall into the marketing realm, but organic web traffic will help turn support from a cost center into a revenue generator. Support teams are always looking to lower support costs by reducing customer effort and increasing ticket deflection. Our customers see a distinct correlation between increased organic web traffic and ticket deflection: more web traffic means fewer tickets, which in turn means lower support costs. By analyzing the amount of traffic, as well as the demographic, geographic, and behavioral data around that traffic, support teams can continue to fine-tune the self-service experience.

Our customers have also noticed that opening help content to the online public has the added benefit of bringing buyers to this information. Web traffic analytics can help inform sales and marketing teams about buyer behavior. Those little FAQs you thought you had to produce are the key to understanding how to better serve both buyers and customers. Through online self-service, support teams aren’t just supporting current customers, they’re supporting the buyer’s presale experience as well.

Learn more about how organic web traffic supports your business goals.

Journey Mapping 101: Expert Answers to your Questions, Part 2

Our recent webinar, Journey Mapping 101: Reduce Customer Effort and Improve Customer Experience, covered key points on how to create a customer journey map, and related that to a reduction in customer effort and improvements to the customer experience.  We had a large, passionate audience, so it’s no surprise we couldn’t get to all of the questions during our Q&A period.

In this series of posts, our Senior Knowledge Consultant, Melissa Burch, and David Kay, Principal of DB Kay & Associates, take on some of the insightful questions asked by our audience.

Q: In the webinar, you mentioned removing all other questions from transactional surveys and just keeping Customer Effort Score. How would you measure other things that help you improve the customer experience?

Melissa: In many cases it is possible to collect data from internal systems that allows you to measure some aspects of the customer experience without asking the customer. For example, it is more accurate and less of a burden to the customer to calculate “time to resolve” details from the internal system.

DavidOne of the things that journey maps do is help you know where and how to instrument your processes, as Melissa suggests. Also, while transaction (post-case) surveys are short, you get to ask more questions in an annual relationship survey. Just make sure never to ask a question unless you’re willing and able to take action on the answer.

Q: What software do you like most to track actual customer paths through systems? Is actual tracking of customer usage not always required to accurately understand real-world paths? 

DavidWe’ve had customers successfully follow paths with Omniture and to a degree with Google Analytics, as well as heat maps with Crazy Egg. That being said, the customer journey gets most interesting when they go across touchpoints and time, so no web tracking software will give you the full customer journey. It’s why getting the right people in the room (including, potentially, customers) is so important.

Q: How is measuring effort actionable?

David: Customer Effort Score is an indicator, not a diagnostic. That’s why I’d use the customer experience journey mapping to do the diagnostics. I’d want to measure the effectiveness of the actions that I take in reducing customer effort through use of the customer effort score. So absolutely through CES we see where we are and we see where we’re trending and if we’re making things better. It’s pointless to ask the question unless you’re going to make things better. That’s where customer experience journey mapping comes in, and the triage or priorization approach that Melissa talked about.

Further insight

If you missed the live broadcast, you can watch a recording of this webinar.

Stay tuned to the Irrevo blog for more Q&A from this session, and follow us on Twitter to be the first to know when we share new posts.

Customer Journey Mapping & Customer Effort: Your Questions, Expert Answers

Our recent webinar, Journey Mapping 101: Reduce Customer Effort and Improve Customer Experience, covered key points on how to create a customer journey map, and related that to a reduction in customer effort and improvements to the customer experience.  We had a large, passionate audience, so it’s no surprise we couldn’t get to all of the questions during our Q&A period.

In this series of posts, our Senior Knowledge Consultant, Melissa Burch, and David Kay, Principal of DB Kay & Associates, take on some of the insightful questions asked by our audience.

Q: What are some tips/tricks to help us figure out how to quantify customer effort?

Melissa: I think examples are the best way to share tips and tricks. So, let’s assume you want to quantify the effort it takes to log a web-based help request/service request.  You could quantify on several variables including: number of minutes it takes, number of clicks it takes, number of questions asked, and number of screens presented.  Establish a consistent scoring mechanism that you use to translate the raw data into a scoring sheet.  Then, as you watch a user complete the task, capture the data for each question.  After the user is finished, translate the raw data to the scoring sheet to arrive at your overall effort score for that task.  It would probably be helpful to watch a few internal testers to make sure that you don’t observe another data point that you would like to capture.

Q: Who are the right people to have in the room to do a customer experience journey map?

David: The most important people in the room are the ones who actually do the work—interacting on-stage with customers, and implementing processes backstage.  While it’s great to have managers involved as well, we find that managers often know the theory of how things are *supposed* to work, and how things work in the real world can be significantly different.  Of course, you also want a cross-functional group that can speak to the end-to-end process we’re mapping.

Q: How do we pick which journeys to map?

David: This is one of the most interesting parts of a journey mapping workshop.  You want journeys that are “just right.”  Too broad, like the complete end-to-end customer lifecycle, doesn’t let you get into enough details to learn much of anything important.  On the other hand, journeys that are too narrow are likely to miss out on important key moments of truth, which often happen in the hand-off between groups or processes.  In general, look for a journeys that are a single experience for the customer (even if it lasts weeks or months), but which involve cross-functional efforts on your end.

Q: We really need to give more attention to our customer effort.  Where do you recommend we start?

Melissa: Begin by reviewing the data your customers have already provided.  This likely will be in various formats but when reviewed as a whole, will give you some ideas on how to address customer experience opportunities. Perhaps there are already teams who look at it, but chances are they are reviewing it with a specific purpose in mind.  I recommend you look at it with a wider lens to help identify and quantify some specific pain points. After getting armed with data, present your recommendations to the executive sponsor.  Then, we recommend you move forward and gather data to quantify observations. The data is required to help prioritize and focus efforts.

Further insight

If you missed the live broadcast, you can watch a recording of this webinar.

Stay tuned to the Irrevo blog for more Q&A from this session, and follow us on Twitter to be the first to know when we share new posts.

Finding Quick Wins to Decrease Customer Effort

Customer Effort Score is a measurement of how much effort a customer has to put forth to do business with a company. Studies have shown that customers who rate their interactions with a company as high effort are most likely to churn, regardless of how satisfied they are. The Maya Angelou quote comes to mind: “At the end of the day people won’t remember what you said or did, they will remember how you made them feel.” When crafting your customer experience, it’s important to note that customers will remember what you said or did, but how you made them feel is a widely underestimated component of their experience.

Measuring Impacts of your Customer Effort Score

The quickest way to learn from your customers is to simply ask them, “How much effort did you personally have to put forth to handle your request?” The answers to this question measures the customer experience more accurately than any other statistic. It tells you how much of your customer’s most valuable asset – time – you’re asking them to trade for a resolution to their issue. Once you understand how easy or difficult your customer interactions are, you can introduce changes to make these interactions easier. 

Many of the ways you’re already measuring your customer experience are key indicators of where your customers encounter difficulty. For example:

  • Are you tracking effectiveness within your knowledgebase? Are most customers who use your support content able to find answers on their own? If your support content isn’t deflecting calls, it simply isn’t effective content.
  • What is your First Contact Resolution rate? Many call centers already use this statistic to measure the effectiveness of their agents, but FCR trends can also indicate a breakdown in the customer experience. If policy drives CSRs to tell their customers to call back later, that’s a major dissatisfier that can be remedied by strategic changes.

Using Support Content to Reduce Customer Effort

Once you’ve identified some root causes of customer effort breakdowns, one way to address them is with your support content. Here’s an example
of what this discovery process looks like:

  • What questions drive calls to Customer Service?
  • Is there support content that provides these answers?
  • If there is, but customers still require support, where is the missing piece?
  • Are they not able to locate a satisfactory answer, or is the one they encounter unclear?

The Broader Solution: Customer Journey Mapping

Customer journey mapping is an exercise that gives you visibility into the customer experience from start to finish, so you can anticipate and eliminate areas of intense customer effort and maximize customer satisfaction. My colleague, Melissa Burch, along with David Kay of DBKay & Associates, have presented on this topic in a recent webinar,  Journey Mapping 101: Reduce Customer Effort and Improve Customer Experience. The recording provides you with everything you need to start mapping your customer journey, including strategies on reducing customer effort.