Why is Knowledge Management Essential for Service Operations?
It’s no secret that today’s service operations teams face significant challenges: machines are more complex, an aging workforce is retiring, and the skills gap is increasing.
Additionally, service leaders are struggling to hire, onboard, and upskill new service reps and field service technicians fast enough—especially in this new era of service, where customers expect on-demand B2C experiences.
To address these pain points, service organizations need to find ways to leverage and share their collective knowledge, including intel from top technicians and historical service data. This is best achieved by collecting, analyzing, and sharing data in a format easily accessible and understood by current and future technicians.
And that’s precisely where the right knowledge management system can help.
Built to store and retrieve data, improve understanding, increase collaboration, and align processes, knowledge management helps service organizations by:
- Improving efficiency and productivity: Simple errors, unnecessary parts usage, and callbacks can be reduced (or avoided!) when orgs use their service data to identify the best solutions for different scenarios.
- Enhancing quality and consistency: Orgs can ensure its services meet and exceed customer expectations. Knowledge management systems capture and share details around customer needs, preferences, and feedback, which helps orgs tailor their service delivery accordingly.
- Empowering employees and enhancing collaboration: A culture of knowledge-sharing and collaboration is created when orgs provide employees with relevant knowledge and up-to-date best practices. This encourages teams to leverage their collective expertise and enhance their problem-solving capabilities.
What Does a Successful Knowledge Management Program Look Like?
A successful knowledge management program for service operations should include the following elements:
- Formalized knowledge capture and creation: Service organizations should identify and capture relevant knowledge from various sources. These include (but aren’t limited to) customer service transcripts, free text, technical support, product engineering, product manuals, and historical service data.
- Organization and storage: Teams need to organize their knowledge assets to make them easy to find, access, and use—especially for brand-new employees. Imagine the value of a new field service tech or customer service team member being able to reference the answer to a customer’s questions in real time.
- Sharing and dissemination: Knowledge assets should be accessible by employees, partners, third-party teams that service their products, and even customers in AI-powered chatbots. Intel can be shared in various ways, including training programs, knowledge bases, and chatbot, mobile, and desktop applications.
- Closed-loop knowledge improvement: Knowledge-sharing tools should encourage ongoing feedback. For example, technicians using a mobile troubleshooting app should be able to give the tool feedback about whether or not the recommended fix solved the issue. This update should be looped back into the ecosystem in order to make outputs more accurate.
How to Implement a Knowledge Management Program Within Service Operations
When implementing a service ops knowledge management program, you should remember your business goals. Some common plans include:
- Decreasing overall service costs and increasing service revenue
- Improving First Time Fix rates or Remote Resolution rates
- Offering customers self-service opportunities, especially when the fixes are simple
Follow these steps to put your team on the path to a successful implementation.
1. Pick your objectives wisely.
Decide which teams are the primary and secondary users, assess where knowledge is complete or lacking, and determine ideal outcomes at business and service levels.
Some questions you can ask include:
- Is the program only for your field service technicians — or could your customer service team and partner teams benefit too?
- Who are the experts in your organization, and where do they sit?
- What does the organization’s performance look like six months after a successful implementation? What about a year?
2. Consider what you can (and should) measure.
Planning how you’ll measure success shouldn’t be overlooked.
Companies need to be thoughtful when choosing the KPIs they will measure, mainly because it’s essential to make sure they can be measured in the first place. Additionally, it’s recommended to set realistic goals in advance.
There are the typical standard top five major KPIs every service org should measure. But how can you expand your goals beyond those traditional metrics? For instance, you can consider reducing inbound calls by 20%, increasing remote resolution by 30%, or increasing First Time Fix Rates by 40%.
3. Bring in your experts.
A company’s knowledge management platform is incomplete without your experts’ input. These can be veteran field service technicians, customer service reps, service and operations managers, and even leaders in digital transformation and IT.
To earn buy-in from them, present the opportunity at hand (the “why”) and ask for their input in gathering the knowledge (the “how”).
4. Select the tools that will meet your needs.
Knowledge bases should be detailed, instantly accessible, and available to all relevant teams.
And most importantly: they should get better over time.
The latter can be challenging to manage in a static document. That’s why more service teams are turning to service intelligence platforms that dynamically offer the best fix suggestions, processes, or guides directly in front of anyone that needs it. These include customers, customer service reps, technicians, operations leaders, or partners.
Check out some interactive examples by clicking on the buttons below:
5. Monitor adoption and plan to improve.
Robust knowledge management tools offer analytics that shows changes in service metrics over time. This can help companies identify which teams are engaging with the tools and which aren’t.
Companies should consider sharing adoption and performance metrics across their teams to celebrate early wins and encourage adoption.
Lastly, there needs to be a robust system in place to gather feedback and close the loop so that the knowledge base can continue to grow and evolve with best practices.
Q: What are the common challenges in implementing a knowledge management program for service operations?
A: The biggest challenges most often include resistance to change, poor planning, lack of leadership support, and team silos that form barriers to knowledge sharing.
Q: What are some best practices for knowledge sharing in service organizations?
A: Some best practices include adopting a culture of knowledge sharing, framing the opportunity at a business-wide and individual level, providing incentives for program adoption, using the right technology to distribute knowledge, and rewarding team members who lead the way.
Q: How can service organizations measure the impact of their knowledge management program?
A: Service organizations can measure the impact of their knowledge management program by tracking KPIs, including inbound call volume, remote resolutions, First Time Fix rate, and Resolution Cost.
Service Intelligence from Aquant is your ticket to improved knowledge management.
Knowledge management has become critical for service operations leaders facing talent shortages, demanding customers, and complex fixes.
Taking steps to get your best technician’s knowledge out of their heads and codified for your entire organization is a winning strategy.