Looking beyond traditional KPIs and embracing knowledge creation
The value of collective intelligence in the digital age has been worked and reworked to generate the rules that govern interactions with the digital consumer. But they have yet to penetrate the customer service centre environment, which runs primarily on KPIs that focus on meeting traditional call centre and customers satisfaction metrics.
While KPI-motivated customer services staff are capable frontline agents, committed to solving each customer issue, they’re not looking far beyond their current case. They are often thinking “How quickly can I solve this problem now?” when they should be thinking “How can I learn from this case so I can better solve a similar case in the future?” This isn’t their fault; if they’re only being measured on traditional KPIs, like call resolution and average handle time, what incentive do they have to focus on future outcomes? To realise customer services staff’s full value, the best businesses look beyond immediate outcome measurements and invest in future resolutions by committing to knowledge management.
Well-established knowledge management will allow customer services reps to generate value as providers of preemptive and predictive service. They’ll be motivated to document their own internal processes and keep an eye out for emerging self-service opportunities. Case management will start to move from reactive and unstructured to proactive and streamlined. Knowledge makes sense of customer service data — from customer patterns to new solutions — and makes it accessible on to the entire organisation.
Creating the knowledge management architecture
In traditional case management systems, knowledge is typically found in another tab or application. For example, Salesforce Service Console pulls knowledge forward, learning which articles are relevant as agents click through case information, and prioritising knowledge presented within the console. Bringing knowledge into a single user interface is the first step; but beyond that, the simplest and most easily adopted knowledge management systems focus on where employees are already collaborating to solve customer issues. Among organisations using Salesforce, we often see customer services reps collaborate via Chatter; so in many cases, the knowledge creation process begins there.
Knowledge objectives may function differently than traditional KPIs, but creating consistent internal metrics to rate knowledge quality is equally important. Companies should consider creating an Article Quality Index (AQI) to establish an organisational structure for knowledge articles.
This AQI should include a structure for knowledge articles, a ranking system for article effectiveness, and guidelines to improve future article quality. An appointed data steward should be able to view use frequency, see who authored knowledge articles, and answer high-level questions like “Has this article been read?”, “Does it clearly define the problem and the resolution?”, and “How useful is it?”
Asking these questions not only improves the quality of the knowledge, it brings visibility to service holes and can directly indicate product or service issues that can be improved. Implementing a ranking system also enables internal visibility and lets managers and employees know which articles are performing — and who’s responsible for good content.
Encouraging employee collaboration by creating a points economy
One of the benefits of a well-defined knowledge management system is that it rewards staff by making their efforts and insights visible across the organisation. If every customer services employee sees that their work is valuable to both managers and colleagues, it gives them a sense that they are dealing with the “big problems” of the business, and encourages employees to find job satisfaction beyond simply hitting established benchmarks.
Rather than implementing the new initiative as a top-down mandate, consider gamifying the process of knowledge creation by implementing a points economy. Deployment methods vary, but the key aspect is rewarding collaboration in a visible way, whether it be with accolades, perks, or intangibles like access to certain company events. The most successful programmes offer numerous types of rewards that give employees satisfaction and encourages action, making knowledge contribution valuable and not just another metric. Strong knowledge management differentiates good customer service organisations from the best — all can benefit from looking beyond traditional KPIs and determining how to turn customer services agents from reactive and neutral to proactive and involved.
In my five years at Bluewolf I have played many roles, ranging from Business Analyst to Managing Director. I have worked on nearly every aspect of an implementation, founded a university program for our incoming BA's, and managed our delivery team in the Western US. Most recently, I have been charged with managing our operations in EMEA focused...