RTM Consulting. Practical Knowledge Management. The Keys to Customer Satisfaction. Randy Mysliviec CEO

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1 RTM Consulting Practical Knowledge Management The Keys to Customer Satisfaction Randy Mysliviec CEO

2 RTM Consulting All rights reserved. Practical Knowledge Management The Keys to Customer Satisfaction Introduction Your company s reputation for customer service is important to acquiring new customers. Delivering great customer service is also a key to keeping and growing those hard won customer relationships. More and more Knowledge Management (KM) is becoming the strategic tool of choice for achieving a customer centric approach to customer service. Knowledge lost (due to employees who leave, change roles, or simply forget), knowledge never captured (due to poor process practices), and knowledge never shared all contribute to lost opportunities to serve the customer effectively and efficiently. This is not a new phenomenon, but communication with and support of the customer is rapidly gaining more attention than ever. The increasing attention is due to industry studies that show the majority of a customer s lifetime value comes after the initial sale; effective and efficient customer interactions are more important than ever. A thorough global knowledge management practice can provide many benefits including: 1. Faster turnaround of known customer issues. You do not have to re-investigate or re-invent the wheel with every interaction. 2. A consistent message to the customer from any customer facing group. 3. Lower costs due to shorter handle time and avoiding unnecessary assisted interactions. Enterprise-wide capture, management and sharing of knowledge capital should be a part of your overall strategy to gain, retain and grow customer relationships. Customers will quickly recognize your ability to provide helpful, consistent and rapid answers from all parts of your company, from professional services to help desk support. Recent benchmark information from TSIA 1 revealed the following: 1 Technology Services Industry Association FCR = First Call Resolution

3 RTM Consulting 3 Interesting, given the clear benefits of KM, is that so many companies still struggle with effective execution of a KM strategy. Numerous studies have found that enterprise satisfaction with KM lags many other areas of business productivity. This white paper will address two important and frequent reasons why KM solutions fail and how to avoid those pitfalls: Reason #1 Companies build grand KM strategies, and subsequently try to tackle too much at once. o KM solutions are far from simple to build and implement, but too many companies make the process far too complex while also failing to take an incremental approach to the problem. The practicality of the solution then receives organizational scrutiny eventually leading to its demise. Reason #2 They focus on technology, vs. a process, when in fact one without the other will not work. o No question about it, KM can be very process intensive, but the process can/should be designed in such a manner that the workflows are more natural for the organization. A good KM tool(s) is also necessary to enable a good process. Knowledge Management Context Everyone Has at Least One Answer Every day, someone, somewhere in your organization finds a new answer to a new problem. Many companies struggle with how to capture this information and share it with the rest of the team. Companies have people talking to and interacting with customers every day, but don t always have an easy way to share the results of these interactions. Many times, information is shared amongst individual teams, but often it is not shared across ALL the teams that touch the customer. An example of this is the Professional Services implementation team that learns about the correct use of a product in a particular client environment that is likely to be encountered in the future. Unfortunately many times this information will not be documented for use outside of Professional Services, and sometimes it is not even documented for other teams within the Professional Services organization. This information may prove to be invaluable for the support organization to use when interacting with this customer, or other customers in the future. There are certainly many other examples of the need to capture and reuse knowledge capital. When companies are not able to capture knowledge enterprise wide and share with will all the teams, there are many issues and process breakdowns that can arise. Some examples: 1. The field team is solving most of the customer issues. The onsite/field teams frequently have no mechanism to communicate potential issues and fixes with the remote support team. We ve heard our customers say many times I hate calling the helpdesk because the onsite technician ends up solving it anyway! The reason for that is, the onsite technician resolved the issue but did not share the knowledge with the rest of the customer facing teams!

4 RTM Consulting 4 2. Costs are not going down on known issues. We ve all been told that we have to lower costs in support services. One of the easiest ways to do this is to recognize your known issues and reduce your resolution time or even help to eliminate them from ever occurring. 3. Customers cannot solve their own issues. A great way to save money and increase customer loyalty is to provide a self-service portal that allows the customers to solve their own issues when they have time. While I would not advocate forcing customers to try to solve their own issue prior to contacting you, studies have indicated that some customers do! Your support strategy should provide a great experience for those desiring self-support capabilities. Today s customers are more technical, capable and willing to solve certain issues on their own. For those of you with iphones, ipads, Android devices or other smart phones you know what I mean. 4. Customers are not receiving consistent service. Customers expect great service every time! In the restaurant industry, you expect your meal to taste great every time you order it. The same is true for customer service. Whatever the issue, customers don t want to be on the phone for 10 minutes one time and 2 hours the next. There are circumstances where this may happen, but they should be few and far between. The ramifications of all these are dissatisfied customers leading to lower sales, higher costs and less profit. A Knowledge Management strategy is the solution of choice for forward thinking companies today. A thorough, enterprise wide knowledge practice will be the best thing you can do for your budget, customers, organizational agility and your team (notice we just hit all four quadrants of the successful balanced scorecard)! Knowledge Management will help drive efficiencies that will improve customer service and help reduce operating costs by making your organization more efficient. Symptoms There are many ways to recognize the need for improved KM processes. Many companies measure their support capabilities by tracking things like first call resolution, average handle time, incident escalations and more. But when the numbers do not look good, attention quickly turns to what is driving sub-optimal results. Some symptoms to look for include: 1. Knowledge isn t shared throughout the organization. Are you recognizing a breakdown in communication between field services, support services, professional services, product development, etc.? Incidents being solved in one organization that could be solved in a lower cost area, need to be quickly documented and moved to the lowest cost level when possible. This not only lowers your support costs but helps to improve customer satisfaction. Items that don t require a touch of a machine should/could be solved remotely and this is easy with a good KM practice. 2. Tiered support structure is taking too long to resolve problem tickets. When the breakdown in communication happens between the field and the support desk, customers start wondering

5 RTM Consulting 5 what the value of the support desk is. When you re not moving that information forward in the customer contact chain, customers become frustrated. Once customers become frustrated, the normal action for them to follow is to move to a more comfortable, higher cost solution, i.e. onsite technicians. 3. Lack of consistency in customer interactions. Customers calling the service desk with a particular issue should expect the same service every time they call the service desk. With a good knowledge management practice in place, this will happen easily. Agents will review the customer s issue, and if it s a known issue, know exactly how to apply a fix to it that has been proven. 4. Your customers are challenging your company s competence. Looking through your customer satisfaction surveys are you seeing comments such as John fixed it in 5 minutes after Sally took 1 hour trying or John understands us so much more than Sally? Your customers can give you a lot of information in your surveys if you scrub the comments, looking for areas of improvement. 5. Repeat calls from customers for the same issues. In a customer s eyes, it s not good when we are sending someone to fix an issue that was either not resolved by the team or was solved incorrectly. You should be able to recognize in your ticket analysis repeat callers and the repeat issues they are having. By having a robust knowledge practice, proven fixes will be used and agents will not be required to guess the solution or tell the customer Try that and call me back if it doesn t work. Let the agents speak confidently in the solutions they are providing and your customers will recognize that and begin to have confidence in your support team. Are any of these familiar issues? If these symptoms are happening in your organization, and you have a KM solution implemented, it is a clear candidate for improvement. If you do not have a KM solution in place, it s time to get one. Building a Practical Knowledge Centered Solution (KCS) Building a KCS is a subject all its own so this section will address keys steps in filling the gap and preparing your company for a more robust KM practice. Five key steps are: 1. Find a practical KM methodology that fits your business. There are a lot of KM methodologies out there that give primary focus to various areas of the business. KCS can be a practical methodology for your company when implemented correctly. Good solutions begin with a requirements gathering process. Spend time researching what are the key or pivotal elements of the solution needed to support your business and prioritize these. The prioritization process will become an anchor point of a practical strategy. Are you looking to share knowledge with customers (to enable self-service)? Or is it for your internal teams only? What information do we need which would be reusable and provide the greatest benefit? What is the best way to collect this knowledge capital? All of these questions and more will provide the basis for

6 RTM Consulting 6 forming your KM strategy and an associated implementation approach. It s more than ok to take baby steps in your program it s recommended just be sure you understand what your desired end state is. Make sure you are always moving forward or in a way that minimizes throw away investments. 2. Build a process to support your strategy. Buying a KM tool does not equate to building a process. Process and enabling technology work together in most business functions. In KM it s absolutely essential! Figure one below outlines a high level view of processes typically part of a KM solution. Maintaining knowledge capital is a critical yet often overlooked aspect of KM processes. Refine/Update Knowledge Acquire/Build Knowledge Acquiring and building knowledge involves creating the right knowledge base architecture with a keen eye to search methods and techniques. Achieving real use and benefit from knowledge capital, and in a disciplined manner transferring that knowledge to those that need it to properly serve the customer. Transfer/Use Knowledge Share Knowledge Sharing knowledge involves the processes needed to encourage and foster the sharing of knowledge capital. Figure 1 RTM Consulting s KM Process Wheel 3. Develop a single knowledge base that everyone uses. Regardless of how prolific or rudimentary your KM practice is, it s very important to have a single point for knowledge to be shared. Too many companies allow silo d KM practices resulting in sub-optimal use of knowledge capital, and disparate systems to learn and search by support personnel. This is neither a scalable nor sustainable model and customers will recognize the inefficiencies in your support strategy. Key to creation of the knowledge base is your approach to categorization, naming conventions, and other search related aspects of the knowledge. This is where sophistication and use-ability often collide, and therefore your chosen approach should be considered carefully and tested fully. See Figure 2 below.

7 RTM Consulting 7 Figure 2 Centralizing Enterprise-wide Knowledge 4. Don t boil the ocean with your implementation plan - focus on what will move the needle. We mentioned earlier that prioritization of your needs is important. Focus on things that will produce results fast. One of the biggest inhibitors to implementing KM is gaining organizational acceptance to what for many is cultural change. When the grand strategy takes too long, appears cumbersome, and only adds work for everyone, the wheels come off the strategy and recovery is difficult. 5. Make the program part of your culture. As with anything, just saying Knowledge Management is going to be part of our culture isn t going to make it part of your culture. There are maturity steps this process will need to go through prior to becoming part of the culture. You will need to start with making the success of this initiative as part of everyone s goals, from the agents, to the technicians, to the managers. Be careful on how you write the goals though, as with any goal, if you put a number on it, people will reach it, but it may not have the result you anticipate. Follow these five steps outlined above, and you will be well on your way to starting a knowledge management capability for your enterprise. Final Thoughts Enterprise-wide capture, management and sharing of knowledge capital should be a part of your overall strategy to gain, retain and grow customer relationships! Customers will quickly recognize your ability to provide helpful, consistent and rapid answers from all parts of your company, from professional services to help desk support. Remember these important two tenets of success:

8 RTM Consulting 8 Don t boil the ocean - avoid building a grand KM strategy, and subsequently tackling too much at once. Focus on a practical solution. KM solutions are far from simple to build and implement, but too many companies make the process far too complex while also failing to take an incremental approach to the problem. Process and enabling technology work together - one without the other will not work. No question about it, KM can be very process intensive, but the process can/should be designed in such a manner that the workflows are more natural for the organization. A good KM tool(s) is also necessary to enable a good process. Closing Effectively developing and delivering quality support services has become a critical component for success. Today s technology (e.g. hardware or software) companies are tasked with delivering increasingly complex and more advanced solutions to market, with greater support than ever before. A key driver of every successful support operation is the ability to build knowledge and support to the customer in the fastest and most economical manner. Following the practices described in this paper should help your organization improve the customer s success in using your product and make it a real competitive edge for your company! About RTM Consulting and the Author Cincinnati-based RTM Consulting provides strategic and operational advice to assist technology companies with increasing revenues and margins by leveraging services more effectively. Specializing in Resource Management and Services Business Optimization, RTM Consulting helps teams responsible for professional, consulting and support services achieve the benefits associated with successful services portfolios. With its unique Just-in-Time Resourcing solution and Business Acceleration Services, RTM Consulting helps large, medium and small firms move beyond theory to practical application of industry best practices and achievement of exceptional results in the shortest possible period of time. Randy Mysliviec leads RTM Consulting, providing high impact advisory services for technology companies service businesses. Acknowledged by industry sources as an expert in Global Resource Management (GRM) and author of the Just-in-Time Resourcing brand of solutions, Randy advises multinational companies with the complex challenge of operating services teams serving the global market. He is a founding member of the Technology Professional Services Association (TPSA now TSIA - the Technology Services Industry Association) and served as a member of the TPSA Advisory Board. Randy is also a contributing author for PSVillage All rights reserved.

9 RTM Consulting The Challenge Technology service providers and other human capital intensive service organizations including hardware, software and consulting companies, internal shared service organizations and outsourcing entities all know that efficient management of human capital, project processes, and other service delivery and go-to-market related processes are key to market success. Today s challenging business environment makes running a services business highly dependent upon having lean and proven business and operational processes designed for peak performance. The Solution Our unique combination of decades of services and outsourcing operational experience coupled with solutions targeted to the services organization allow us to work with large, medium and small firms to move beyond theory to practical application of industry best practices and achievement of exceptional results in the shortest possible period of time. Contact Us: (855.RTMC555) Who We Are RTM Consulting provides strategic and operational advisory services to technology companies and other industries to assist them in increasing revenues and growing margins by leveraging consulting, professional and support services more effectively. What We Do Strategic Planning Services - We use our extensive leadership experience to help services organizations build the right strategy and operational model to make value creation a reality. Resource Management - We help you focus on Getting the Right Person in the Right Place at the Right Time with our Just-in-Time Resourcing (JITR) solution. Project and Portfolio Management Our unique PMO/PM frameworks will help your organization efficiently run projects on-time, on-budget, with consistently excellent quality. Services Business Optimization - Our skilled practitioners help you identify and implement best practices necessary to transform your services business into the most efficient and effective operation possible. Skills Development/Training - We enhance the soft skills of your consulting and professional services personnel to complement your product, business and technical knowledge. We also offer training in project management, resource management and other services based disciplines. PSA/PPM Consulting - We provide an objective third party assessment and assistance in choosing the right automation solution for your needs and assist you with implementation to achieve the benefits of your investment. Outsourcing Advisory Services - We assist both providers and consumers of outsourcing services with Strategic Sourcing Consulting, Resource Management Strategies, Business Optimization, Skills Development and Training, and Resource Management/Project Management Automation. Value Realization Services - Our unique Value Realization Framework enables you to help your clients close the technology consumption gap by accelerating adoption of your products full range of features and functions. How We Do It Company Capabilities Overview Our mission is to help consulting, professional and support services organizations get better at what they do Our highly disciplined management consulting and operational services include: Rapid Diagnostics to identify opportunities to improve business performance. Implementation Services to make solution implementation fast and effective. Business Planning Services to turn your vision into a realistic operating plan. Business Acceleration Services to accelerate your time to value with RTMC solutions. Copyright All Rights Reserved.

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