The Top Five Minimum Viable Pieces for a Successful KCS Implementation
As a prior member of the Consortium for Service Innovation, I’ve had the opportunity to participate in some great discussions about what the core pieces of a successful KCS implementation really are. After reflecting on these discussions, I’ve come up with my own list of the top five minimum viable pieces for a KCS implementation. Note that this is NOT KCS-Lite, KCS-light, Diet KCS, Low-Cal KCS, or any other witty quips I’ve heard (and used) in the past… nor is it picking and choosing what parts of the KCS paradigm works for your org and throwing away all others… this is the core minimum to begin a program and understanding growth and maturity of the program means evolving and expanding at the right rate based on your clients’ needs and your capabilities to deliver on those.
Non-Negotiables for KCS
The first step in any KCS implementation is to determine the minimum viable parts. Where is the threshold where it becomes something else less effective and less likely to succeed? It’s important to have a clear understanding of these non-negotiables to prevent compromising during implementation. Of course, your list may differ from mine depending on your specific context and needs. That said, here are my top 5 minimum viable pieces to a successful KCS implementation based on my own experience rolling out KCS programs for over a decade:
1. Executive Buy-In and Culture Change
Getting executive buy-in and understanding culture change are crucial for a successful KCS implementation. It is important to understand that KCS is a change management initiative and that sustained change has to come from within. It is also important to overcome the “we’ve always done it this way” mentality and get everyone on board with the new approach. This is a transformational opportunity to shift the customer support perspectives, but recognize that not everyone is going to be happy to change. This is where executive buy-in is really executive champion-ing; leadership must not just agree that this is the right thing to do, but really believe in it too.
I’ve written about Building a knowledge sharing culture with KCS before where I went into a bit more detail on the specifics. And while I call out #2 and #4 below on their own, they are also core and critical pieces to changing the culture as well as the overall KCS program success. After all, it is upon the knowledge sharing culture that we build everything else.
2. Rebuilt Metrics and KPIs
When implementing KCS initially, the key performance indicators (KPIs) will be different from those of the past. Instead of focusing on transactional success indicators, the KPIs should focus on supporting and encouraging the right behaviours. While I also stand by my suggestions in my earlier post, those items can be daunting at first. For minimum viable here, simply look at measuring to drive knowledge capture and sharing behaviour… just remember to stay away from putting goals on activities, and rather measuring outcomes and results.
By example, quantifying changes in time available for other tasks, avoiding middle-of-the-night calls, and helping new people get up to speed (time to proficiency) could all be very valid early stage metrics. Of course, it is important to identify the minimum criteria required to get started and determine the necessary investment for your particular needs. Every situation will differ here, but in most cases only one or two metrics or KPIs may be necessary to get started.
Likewise, be sure to build into the reporting the items that validate trust. Your data needs to show trust in the process, ROI, who is bought in, and help with accountability. Trust is the most critical component here, so be especially attentive to how your reporting impacts trust in all you do.
3. Tooling (or, A Way to Capture Context, Create Shareable Content, and Discover Existing Content)
Don’t let this scare you, all it means is to define SOMETHING to help you here. This could be as simple as Notepad and folder structures to start.
Capturing knowledge in the moment is a crucial part of KCS, which includes saving and searching draft articles. To effectively implement KCS, it is essential to capture knowledge in the moment. This means that when someone discovers a solution to a problem, they should immediately be able to share their notes with the team. This approach ensures that the team does not have to rediscover the solution later, improving efficiency and reducing the likelihood of errors. The specific tooling you need to make this happen is far less relevant or essential than making sure your teams are able to use the tools efficiently and effectively.
The best most expensive tools in the world are worthless if your team can’t use them, and sometimes the most simple tools allow you to get started and move forward faster than more complex implementations. Start with something simple that just works. Build and scale form there as you see adoption trending positively and need to grow your tools.
4. Simplified Guidance
Some initial process guidance to help keep the teams on track is necessary, but doesn’t need to be complex or detailed to start. You could point to the KCS library of principles and practices, or build your own more simplified version to tackle only those things that are critical for your immediate needs.
Something as simple as the following could be enough to initially capture the guidance and expectations your teams need:
- For Solve loop work, ensure you: Capture, structure, reuse, and improve.
- For Evolve loop work, focus on: Content Health, Process Integration, Performance Assessment, Leadership and Communication
A simplified guide is necessary for a minimum viable KCS implementation to help ensure we don’t get bogged down in complex scenarios or finicky rules. The guidance should outline the intent and desired outcomes rather than specific steps. Build your guidance from the most broad perspective and use it to help teach your teams to make good decisions rather than telling them what decisions to make. Because KCS requires judgment, your guidance should support growing that muscle not removing the need for it.
5. Coaches (champions)
Building and nurturing KCS coaches is crucial for a successful KCS implementation. It is important to identify who the right KCS coaches or champions are, quickly, and when more are needed. These coaches will help to drive the change management initiative and promote teamwork. You’ll hear all around the Consortium for Service Innovation that no KCS program has ever been seen to be sustainably successful without a coaching program, and I can attest to its importance in success of a program.
However, this doesn’t mean every KCS program must have a robustly staffed coaching program too. Rather, it means your coaching should be right-sized for your program. In initial small implementations, the person leading the KCS charge forward may well be in the role of program manager, champion, coach, etc… multiple hats are very much a thing in small orgs, so don’t be daunted by the need for a coach. Recognize the role to be played rather than the headcount needed. As your program grows, your need for coaches will as well. When that happens, make sure you treat your coaches well and don’t over burden them on a daily basis. They are your lifeblood for any successful KCS implementation!
There you have it; from my perspective a minimum viable KCS implementation can be achieved with these five pieces: executive buy-in and culture change, different KPIs and metrics, tooling to support the basic process, simplified guidance, and nurturing KCS coaches. By focusing on these pieces, your organization (regardless of size) can successfully adopt the KCS ideals.
KCS® is a service mark of the Consortium for Service InnovationTM. The above content has been remixed/derived from the KCS v6 Practices Guide by Consortium for Service Innovation which is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License. Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at email@example.com.
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