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Elizabeth Raju
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Elizabeth Raju - Experienced and passionate Knowledge Management practitioner with expertise in content and knowledge management strategics, knowledge asset reports and building investor relationships. Supported KM activities for North America (Canada, US); European Regions (BENELUX and UK) and India in IT firms.  https://www.linkedin.com/in/elizabethraju/

In a customer service environment, service desk agents are generally fighting a battle to resolve customer issues. On time resolution and customer satisfaction must go hand-in-hand. Despite all the juggling, it’s not always necessary that customer issues are resolved on the first call instance. As the instances increase, so does the customer dissatisfaction.

According to KCS, “97% of support demand is served through self-service or online communities, forums, and social media”. Knowledge Centered Support (KCS) developed by Consortium for Service Innovation) methodology suggests capture knowledge as and when it occurs and share it with others. Combined knowledge of one’s human capital, clients and vendors can make up a very strong Knowledge Base (KB). If we share the knowledge we know, it gets the opportunity to evolve and improve.

To capture, structure and reuse content:

  1. Capture knowledge as the customer speaks 
    1. The Customer Service Agent can capture the issues of the customer in the customer’s words immediately, if not already captured o KCS believes in search often and search each time an issue arises, or the customer calls in for a support. This helps locate the already existing knowledge on the issue, building on it in case it needs an update or correction. Searching the articles frequently reduces duplication. Better use of tagging can make the search easier.
    2. Make this draft content immediately visible even if it is not evaluated. If something really needs to be hidden, use technology to create hidden fields to hide only that bit of information
  2. Use templates to capture content with the flexibility of adding extra content outside of the template structure. This will make the content more readable and easier to store. With the structure in place the customer agent just needs to fill in the template with the required information. Anything which is beyond the template structure can be captured as additional information. Idea is to have ‘not too much or too less structure’.
  3. Check Content Usefulness – Adding “Useful” or “Not Useful” options or Comments section in the articles. Data, like number of times the content is visited gives an idea of importance and demand of content.
  4. Quality – Minor spelling errors should not be considered an issue for content creation. It’s about community ownership. As and when someone come across an error in the content, they correct it or flag it for correction. Since it is a self-correcting system measuring the quality in terms of what is written or presented may not be an ideal method. Although there can be a comparison made on the content when it was contributed and later with the regular use and updates what it has become. If it resolves the issues, keep it.
  5. Publish – Any knowledge evaluated by regular use or confirmed by an SME can be published.  

Examples of Impact

1. Case Deflection

It is that Eureka moment for the user when the user locates the resolution themselves on the service portal without calling a service desk. 

A Customer “John” calls the service desk undergoes a series of instructions, to finally reach that human to speak to and tell his issues. Soon after John finishes explaining the issue to the Service Agent “Vikas”, the call drops suddenly. One can imagine the frustration John would undergo as he must call back, and there is no guarantee of getting Vikas back again on the call. John will have to explain everything again from scratch to the next service agent. Many of us must have experienced this situation in our day to day lives. In this scenario, I would have preferred an alternative to calling. If John had an option to look up his issue and troubleshoot it himself, he would have preferred it as an alternative to calling second time. Some people are shy and may not be comfortable in making a call. 

2. Customer Satisfaction 

The new Service Agent “Angela” who picks up the call second time from John knows the situation as it was already written down by Vikas, the first Service Agent during the unfinished call when John was explaining the issue. The moment John starts describing the issue again, Angela can search and find the rest of the story from the documented content of Vikas and does not require John to explain everything in detail again. John is now a somewhat happy customer, and not as agitated as he was when the call dropped. 
Had it been a situation where Vikas had not documented the issue and John had to undergo the story telling process again. Angela would not have had any clue of what the customer explained to Vikas. Because it was documented John is happy and so is Angela.

3. Reduction in Resolution Time

John calls again other day seeking instruction on installing a software. This time John gets to speak to Vikas. Vikas starts searching the Knowledge Base as he was hearing the request from John and finds a draft “How-To” article on installing the software which John mentioned. Vikas immediately helps John run the installation process during the call and John gets his software installed. John was happy to get an immediate resolution this time.  

4. A Self-Correcting System

The How-To article which Vikas locates for installing the software was in draft status and was not vetted by anyone. Vikas went ahead and followed the instructions to install and it worked well. Vikas has just now vetted the article by use and approved it as a great content for further use.  It is also possible certain issues have more than one solution, articles can be updated as and when someone discovers the new methods of resolving that issue. 

Self Correcting System

Every time an agent finds an issue with the article, they either correct it or flag it. This self-correcting mode of this system makes it a robust system in the long run. 

5. Readiness and Easy Availability of Content 

If Vikas had to approach different people for the resolution keeping John waiting on the call, it would have consumed a lot of time in providing a solution and increased John’s anger and in turn pushed John to find greener pastures.

It is where the right content management systems need to be placed for easy search and retrieval.

6. Employee Motivator

Vikas feels a great pride in taking the ownership of the article and approving it as a great content for use by others. It gives him a sense of belonging and ownership. Vikas is very happy and makes sure his clients are as well. 

KCS encourages everyone to take ownership on the content. This uplifts the morale of everyone as it encourages the organizations to trust its people.  

Ashley Krantz Freelance Blogger

While working on my internship for my master’s degree in Information Architecture Knowledge Management, I conducted an interview with Keith Davis, employed by the Army’s Knowledge Management division inside the center of cyber excellence, as a means to better understand the Army’s knowledge management proponent. Davis concludes the interview with an enlightened consideration, demanding rumination. He notes that one must acknowledge that a paradigm shift is happening quoting William Caldwell, then Combined Arms Center Commander, “Knowledge Management may very well be the Manhattan Project of the 21st century" (K.Davis, personal communication, July 14, 2017). Briefly setting aside my extensive notes on the terms and taxonomies of the Army doctrine, this profound thought resonated with me. I asked myself, “What was the connection between this pivotal and catastrophic point in world history and the field of knowledge management?”

During the Atomic Age, The Manhattan Project, was a period of incessant discovery that utilized mass-scale of compartmentalization of knowledge, revolutionizing the physical world through understanding, processing, collaboration, and communication. The significance of the project taught us that enlightened thinkers can forge knowledge, which has the potential to grow at exponential rates resulting in invaluable discoveries. It was Cadwell’s quote that really taught me the power and potential of KM. Knowledge creation is a dynamic process that transcends existing boundaries. Knowledge truly is created through the interactions of individuals or between individuals and their milieu, rather than the individual working alone. I now learned that a social knowledge creation process is possible.

In short, the breakthroughs in atomic knowledge became the underpin for today’s enlightened, dynamic, and progressive transformative leadership and innovation. In the same way, the future of knowledge management depends on the same knowledge acquisition, representation, organization, and skill development utilized by theoretical physicists, philosophers, and thinkers in order to develop effective strategies for the optimal management of knowledge assets, production, and management.


Reference

KM World: Knowledge Management in the United States Army [Interview by K. Davis & W. Caldwell]. (2017, July 14).

Biography of Ashley Krantz

Ashley Krantz, a freelance blogger, for Pioneer Knowledge Services recently graduated magna cum laude with her master’s from Kent State University’s Information Architecture Knowledge Management program. Simultaneously, Ashley received a full-time Graduate Assistant Scholarship working as a research aid for the Library and Information Science department. Prior, she received two bachelor’s degrees, on academic scholarships, in general studies with a focus in both biology and psychology and a postgraduate degree in English. Ashley currently is the owner of an online vintage boutique, enjoys hiking, and is an avid watcher of classic films.

Kristen Summers

Kristen Summers works as a Grants Manager at Saint Luke's Foundation in Cleveland, Ohio. She is interested in Knowledge Management in order to further her career in philanthropy. In her spare time she enjoys hiking with her husband and two dogs.

You know the saying in the field of grantmaking, “If you've met one foundation, then you know one foundation”? It means that foundations all have different priority areas in what they fund, their geographies differ, the way they accept applications and make decisions can vary greatly. The same is true for a foundation's Knowledge Management (KM) needs and the solutions that would be most appropriate to address those needs—there are a lot of different options out there so it is very important to spend time researching what the most fitting solutions would be for that organization.

Fortunately, Becerra-Fernandez and Sabherwal (2015) give us this seven step methodology for identifying appropriate KM solutions (p. 279), and I will give a basic overview here:

  1. Assess the contingency factors—This step requires you to examine the organization's environment in terms of contingency factors (characterizing tasks, knowledge, environment and organization) and how they contribute to uncertainty (p. 279).
  2. Identify the KM processes based on each contingency factor—When you have identified the contingency factors that are relevant to your organization, you then have to discover which KM process corresponds to that (p. 281). For example, if environmental uncertainty is high, then you would use combination or socialization for knowledge discovery, but socialization for knowledge sharing would not work as well (p. 282).
  3. Prioritize needed KM processes—Once you've identified the needed processes in the previous step, then you need to prioritize them. To help with that, you can assign scores based on appropriateness and then rank the processes (p. 281).
  4. Identify existing KM processes—This is where you will need to survey the employees of the organization to assess which KM processes are being used and to what extent (p. 281).
  5. Identify additional KM processes needed—Based on what you discovered in the previous steps, this is where you can recommend which other processes would be appropriate based on the priorities (p. 283).
  6. Assess the KM infrastructure and identify the sequential ordering of the KM processes—It is important to consider the current infrastructure to support these solutions, including the organization structure and culture, as well as the physical environment and IT infrastructure (p. 283).
  7. Develop additional needed KM systems, mechanisms, and technologies—This is where all the previous work comes into play and changes are actually made. This means creating KM systems, mechanisms, and technologies to support the KM processes, through teams or by buying or building systems (p. 283).

As I stated earlier, this is a very basic overview of the methodology, but I hope you can see all the work it would take to find the appropriate solutions. However, this work performed in order to determine the best solutions is far more efficient and cost-effective than if you were to do trial-and-error with various KM solutions that are not appropriate for your organization. Moreover, implementing the wrong solution and seeing it fail might make senior leadership gun shy about deploying any further KM solutions. So, it is better to follow this methodology and figure out what is best for your organization.


Reference List

Becerra-Fernandez, I., & Sabherwal, R. (2015). Knowledge management: Systems and processes. New York: Routledge.

Nation’s First Knowledge Management Nonprofit Establishes

Nonprofit Incubator Space in Kent, Ohio

Contact:  Edwin K. Morris, contact@ pioneer-ks.org 330.593.5850

For Immediate Release

KENT, OH, March 22, 2017:  Following its mission to build the capacity of nonprofit organizations, Pioneer Knowledge Services has launched an incubator space for fledgling nonprofits in Northeast Ohio.

Located at 1949 State Route 59, Suite 103 in Kent, the Pioneer Knowledge Services (PKS) headquarters offers nonprofits knowledge management services; skills needed for any 21st century organization.

The Incubator 17 program offers low-cost office spaces with shared resources, capacity-building workshops, networking opportunities and other services that start-up nonprofits need to grow and thrive.

PKS President and Founder Edwin K. Morris says the initiative follows best practices established by incubators across the country.

“We see small business incubators popping up all over because the incubator idea is a tried-and-true model that fuels the start-up culture and economic development,” says Morris. “The same holds true for the non-profit sector.”

Morris, an adjunct instructor of knowledge management and digital sciences at Kent State University, is creating opportunities for graduate and undergraduate internships focused on knowledge work.

“Our proximity to Kent State, in particular, enables us to access to a wide range of talents among the student body – people looking for credit and volunteer experiences to build their professional portfolio,” says Morris.

Morris says PKS can serve as the clearinghouse, home base and organization of record to supervise, mentor, and align the skills and talents of interns with the needs of nonprofit organizations.

In addition to recruiting and overseeing interns, Pioneer Knowledge Services provides knowledge management support to nonprofits, which helps organizations effectively leverage their people, technology and information.

Morris also envisions the incubator as a convener of nonprofit partnerships that can result in joint grant applications and other ventures that create a “rising tide for all ships.”

“We see ourselves as capacity builders, and we are eager to engage the ideas and energies of our colleague nonprofits to create greater relevance to and outcomes for the populations we exist to serve,” says Morris.

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