Building a Knowledge Sharing Culture with KCS
With my experience building, implementing, rebooting, and supporting KCS programs, I’ve come to a few realizations along the way. One of which is that the organization’s culture will make or break any adoption, and that leads to further failed self-service initiatives. So I want to share some of the key points around this focus on culture and shifting to one that embraces knowledge sharing that may prove helpful to you in your own KCS or knowledge management endeavors…
But first, let’s set the baseline:
Knowledge Centered Service (KCS) is a methodology that embeds the creation and maintenance of knowledge into the service and support process as the way to solve cases in order to improve the efficiencies of solution delivery. KCS is centered on the concept of creating and reusing knowledge, rather than simply resolving cases without capturing what we learned from the interaction. A KCS culture is one in which knowledge capture, sharing, collaboration, and continuous improvement are ingrained into the organization’s values and practices and have become second nature in our daily work.
Why is a KCS Culture Important?
Building this culture is essential for organizations to build a sustainable, scalable service and support program. With a Knowledge-Centered Services culture, organizations can ensure that their teams are effectively creating and sharing knowledge, resulting in better support experiences for customers and improved efficiencies for the organization. When the culture is adopted, there is far less churn and greater job satisfaction.
A KCS culture also helps organizations to foster a sense of collective ownership and continuous improvement. This shift if where competition becomes collaboration. When knowledge sharing and collaboration are prioritized, teams are able to learn from each other, faster, and improve their processes over time. This creates a positive feedback loop, where teams are collaboratively improving their knowledge base and support processes, which directly leads to better customer experiences which delivers those business outcomes like improved CSAT and customer retention.
How to Build a KCS Culture
This is where the hard work happens. Building a KCS culture requires a concerted effort from all members of the organization; from frontline support staff to executive leadership, and everyone in-between, but is especially reliant on your first-line managers. KCS is not just a methodology or framework, it’s a mindset that can help organizations build a sustainable and scalable support program that delivers real value to your customers, but only when we are all bought in. Every person involved needs to be bought in to the ideas and direction to ensure success. KCS is not an individual success or failure, it is a community driven program that can only succeed when the community works together to achieve its goals.
This in mind, here are some key steps to building a solid KCS culture:
Trust is a core principle of the KCS methodology, and it should be at the root of any KCS culture. Trust empowers employees to make decisions and take ownership of their work, which is essential for effective knowledge sharing and collaboration. When employees feel trusted, they feel safe and are more likely to share their knowledge and contribute to the organization’s collective intelligence.
- Empowering employees to make decisions on their own and take ownership of their work
- Encouraging and providing more opportunities for employees to build relationships and collaborate with one another
- Recognizing and rewarding employees who demonstrate trustworthiness
- Creating a culture of transparency and open communication
While guidance and documentation are important in any support organization, they can be counterproductive when they become overly prescriptive. To build a KCS culture, organizations should prioritize empowering employees to make decisions and use their judgment. This means simplifying guidance to provide a framework for decision-making rather than a set of rigid rules to cover every edge case.
Simplifying guidance requires organizations to:
- Provide employees with a framework for decision-making, not a script of steps to follow
- Encourage employees to use their judgment and make decisions based on the situation at hand
- Ensure that guidance is flexible and can be adapted to changing circumstances
- Provide breathing room and time for thought, while allowing for mistakes to occur… those are excellent growth and coaching opportunities after all
Foster a Culture of Continuous Improvement
Continuous improvement is also a key tenet of KCS, and it should be a core value of any KCS culture. To foster a culture of continuous improvement, organizations should encourage open communication and collaboration among team members. This means creating a safe space for employees to ask questions, share their thoughts, and challenge assumptions. Fostering growth mindsets in your teams only happens when your contributors feel safe, which stems from the trust we spoke of earlier. By encouraging this mindset of continuous improvement, organizations can ensure that they are always learning and adapting to changing customer needs.
Fostering a culture of continuous improvement requires organizations to:
- Encourage open communication and collaboration among team members
- Provide opportunities for employees to learn and grow
- Coach through those opportunities where learning can occur
- Recognize and reward employees who contribute to continuous improvement efforts
- Regularly evaluate and adapt support processes to meet changing employee and customer needs
Measure the Right Things
To ensure that any knowledge sharing culture is delivering value to the organization, it is important to measure the right things. While cases closed or time to resolution (TTR) are important metrics, they do not tell the whole story of a successful support program and can often work in direct conflict to the larger goals of a KCS program. Organizations should also measure data like customer satisfaction, solutions delivered, and knowledge reuse to ensure that we are delivering real value to your customers.
Measuring the right things requires organizations to:
- Identify key metrics based on outcomes that are aligned with the organization’s goals and values
- Regularly track and evaluate these metrics to ensure that they are delivering value as trended against themselves
- Use big data to make informed decisions about support processes and strategies
- Continuously evaluate and improve the metrics to ensure that they are providing an accurate picture of the organization’s performance.
The right metrics at the beginning of a KCS program adoption will not be the same right metrics when you’re further into your maturity model.
Plan to adjust the metrics and goals through every phase of your adoption
- Not rate employee performance on a single metric. Rather, use a rubric of metrics covering multiple facets of their work; often this is best displayed through radar charts
By now I’m sure you’ve recognized that building a KCS culture is a long-term endeavor that requires time, patience, and thoughtful support based on trust. By focusing on trust, simplifying guidance, fostering a culture of continuous improvement, and measuring the right metrics, organizations like yours can create a KCS culture that delivers real value to both their customers and their business. By following these suggestions, you will be better equipped to grow a knowledge sharing culture that delivers real value to your customers and business. While building this all takes time and effort, it is absolutely essential for organizations looking to build efficiencies and value into their support programs and drive customer retention.
KCS is more than just a framework or a set of principles; it’s a mindset shift that must be embraced and adopted by every member of the team. It’s a mindset that, when fully adopted, delivers very real and tangible value to all parts of the company and its customers.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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