Why Is Knowledge Management So Important to the Service Desk?

HDIDog178796006Implementing knowledge management within a support organization to improve the service desks abilities to respond to customer issues benefits the organization, the support staff, and the customers. Here are just a few reasons why organizations implement knowledge management:

  • Speed in response is important, as it gets customers back to work faster and makes for a happier customer. Speed also means less time allocated to the incident, reducing the cost of support. When support analysts are able to quickly search a knowledge base and find a resolution, they reduce the diagnostic time within incident management. And, the sooner they complete one incident, the sooner they are made available for the next customer, thus reducing the average service time and lowering the abandon rate.
  • Technology is getting too complex for any one person to know everything. Some support organizations report supporting over 200 software applications. By using the knowledge base, support analysts are tapping into the experience of the team. Collectively, the team is smarter than the one.
  • If I call your service desk 10 times, speak to 10 different support analysts, and ask the same question, how likely am I to get the same answer? Consistency is a key to service quality. If every support analyst follows the process of searching the knowledge base before providing a customer an answer or beginning to research a problem, then every customer will get the same answer, which happens to be the best answer known to the organization at that time. The answer will even match the answer the customer could have found on the organization’s self-service website.
  • Support is one of the most stressful jobs. Every time the phone rings, the analysts ask themselves, “Will I know this answer?” When they have the power of the team behind them in the form of knowledge, then the answer to that question is more likely to be “Yes.” Giving support analysts the tools and ability to satisfy more customers quickly improves employee satisfaction, lowering attrition rates and saving organizations money.
  • There is just not enough time to train every support analyst on every product you support. By using the knowledge base, support analysts learn about products as they support customers. In areas where the team collectively is not as knowledgeable as needed to satisfy the demands of the customer base, additional training can be completed.
  • Answering the same questions repeatedly adds minimal value to the organization. Identifying what the frequently asked questions or problems are in the environment is a challenge. Most organizations attempt to do this by analyzing the incident history and evaluating the classification structure. This then feeds problem management to begin the process of removing the defect from the environment. When organizations link knowledge articles to incidents as they are being resolved, reuse counters are updated and detailed incident history reports are available for every problem. Knowledge management is used to drive problem management instead of incident management.
  • Most support managers are always looking for opportunities to improve the first contact resolution rates, as they know this lowers the cost of support and increases customer satisfaction. When support analysts can search and find knowledge quickly, they can respond to customers faster and without the need to escalate the incident. First contact resolution rates go up.
  • Implementing a self-service knowledge base gives customers a choice for support. When they use self-service, they can get back to work without the cost of assisted service. Support organizations that implement knowledge management properly with the goal of providing self-service can produce a self-service knowledge base as a byproduct of quality assisted service. The support organization needs to be responsible for both assisted service and self-service and get credit for helping customers through both support models.

The organization needs to move from a labor-based support model that depends solely on the individuals in the organization to a knowledge-based support model that incorporates the collective knowledge of the team. Faster response, fewer escalations, and self-service all reduce the average cost per incident. The organization is happier, the employee is happier, and the customer is happier.

Learn how to implement knowledge management based on best practices by learning more about Knowledge-Centered Support.

About the Author
Rick Joslin is the executive director of certification & training for HDI. He is also certified Knowledge-Centered Support (KCS) instructor and has guided organizations through the implementation of KCS. Rick has served as VP of Customer Care, VP of RightAnswers.com, and VP of Knowledge Engineering for ServiceWare. He is the author of the HDI Focus Book on Knowledge Management, the Knowledge Management Maturity Model, and the “Knowledge Management” chapter in the HDI Service and Support Handbook. Rick is a regular speaker at industry events, a member of the Consortium for Service Innovation, and an evangelist for KCS.

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