What a knowledge service center is and how it can increase your ROI

How to deal with simple, recurring calls efficiently

29Jun

Is your service desk dealing with a lot of simple, recurring calls or do your employees tend to forward too many calls to the service desk’s second line of support? Finally, do you find yourself wondering how to do these things more effectively? Knowledge management is likely the answer. Here, let’s discuss what knowledge management is and can do for your organization, and learn more about knowledge management in accordance with knowledge-centered support (KCS) means, and why you should invest in knowledge management.

Knowledge management for a smarter way

It’s Friday morning and Mr. John Doe receives a call saying that paper is stuck in the printer. He remembers that this has already happened a few times this week, but he’s back on the phone again. After spending half an hour asking around, speaking with other service management team members and going through previous calls, Mr. Doe finds the answer and replies to the client. After this curvature of a process that resembles more of a pretzel than a service call, the service desk employee might literally be sitting back and wondering if there is a smarter way to manage this process and handle calls.

What is service management?

What is knowledge? Nothing more than all of the knowledge that exists within your service desk that extends far beyond manuals and documentation. It also includes answers to frequently asked questions or step-by-step plans. Knowledge is often not recorded anywhere and exists only in employees’ heads. And when someone leaves the company, they take all of that knowledge with them, forever.

So how do you manage that knowledge? By recording it in a knowledge base and sharing it with your co-workers. If any information is missing, supplement it as you are processing the client’s call, and don’t do so on a Friday afternoon when you know you won’t be getting around to it anyway.

Does that mean you have to keep all of the knowledge up to date on your own? Course not. All your co-workers have knowledge, are specialized and responsible for the knowledge bank. Entrust the team with managing this wealth of knowledge; let everyone share and develop their knowledge.

At many service desks, knowledge management never really lifts off. This is because much of the time the employee in charge of knowledge management is simply unable to get around to it all. They’ll block out their Friday afternoons for writing and updating manuals, but end up spending those afternoons catching up on the growing list of calls from users. They must do so, they figure because the calls are more important than managing data in the knowledge base. Knowledge-centered service allows knowledge managers to change their service desk’s priorities; recording knowledge becomes your new objective, instead of processing calls. A properly detailed answer in the knowledge base helps them resolve not just the one call, but aid all clients who come to you asking the same question in the future. Thus, the priority of managing the knowledge base is actually more important than managing the daily calls. The efficiency gained for the long-term effort of managing data in the knowledge base over the short-term gains of handling a few calls one afternoon per week.

Knowledge-centered service consists of two elements: Solve and evolve.


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Solve

The first of the KCS elements is “solve,” which is the recording or improving knowledge, using data from incoming calls. Here’s how it works. You receive a call. First, you check the knowledge base to see whether the question has been answered before. If not, record the question and your answer in the knowledge base and resolve the call. Alternatively, if the knowledge base does contain an answer, ensure that the answer is correct; if so, reuse it. If not correct, edit the answer so that your co-workers will be able to use it right away next time around.

Evolve

When first starting with your KCS efforts you’ll likely have your hands full dealing with the “solve” stage, but once the knowledge management center has been used for a while, you can start working on the so-called “evolve” stage. Evolve encompasses everything needed to improve knowledge management. This is the stage in which you analyze your knowledge base: Which answers are called up frequently and how to prevent those questions from being asked? The evolve stage also involves introducing KCS within and to other teams within the organization.

Why invest in knowledge management?

Now that we’ve identified the two steps of KCS, the next question is why you should invest in these things? Well, there are several primary reasons:

Spend less time on recurring calls

A complete knowledge base enables you to address your recurring calls much faster than without. Implementing this methodology leads to an average reduction of 20 percent in the time it takes to resolve a call, and by making that knowledge available to your clients you can prevent calls in the first place by enabling clients to solve their own problems.

Increase your client satisfaction levels

Clients want the right answer to their questions quickly. A knowledge base enables you to process more questions and issues in your first line of support while guaranteeing the soundness of your responses because the knowledge used is based on the collective knowledge of your entire service desk. For example, one organization I’ve worked with where we introduced knowledge management the customer satisfaction went up from a five to an eight; pretty good improvement overall.

Newly hired employees are up and running much faster

Familiarizing a newly hired employee often takes a lot of time, especially at a skilled service desk. Think about how much easier this onboarding process might be if the newly hired employee had a complete and functional knowledge base at their disposal. They would be able to get started right away and begin processing simple questions.

The service desk becomes more fun

Solving problems and issues yourself provides a greater sense of satisfaction than simply forwarding them to other people along the way. Working and addressing complex issues makes for more of a challenge than repetitive work. In short, knowledge-centered service makes the work at your service desk more fun. And as for why that’s important, happy people provide better service! On top of that, it will decrease staff turnover.

Calculate how much time you would be saving

In our experience, knowledge management leads to an average decrease of 20% in the time it takes to resolve recurring calls within two to four months. Around half of that time saved is used for supplementing and updating your knowledge bank. This means that the net reduction in the time it takes to resolve recurring calls is 10%. Our evidence shows that knowledge management helps save time. But how much time, exactly?

How many hours a week do your teams spend on processing calls?

Let’s estimate for a second. Say you have four people working full time in your front office, and four people spend two days a week on calls in the back office. You would then end up with the following calculation: (4 x 40) + (4 x 16) = 224 hours a week.

Which percentage of calls could be resolved faster?

This applies to questions, requests and malfunctions. Usually, around 60% to 90% of all calls could be resolved faster. Of course, some calls, such as complaints, cannot be resolved more efficiently. You will probably be able to see how many calls, requests and malfunctions could be resolved faster by consulting your service management tool. If the tool you use does not allow you to extract such reports then simply go through a list of recent calls and estimate the percentage.

For further clarification, say your teams spend a total amount of time 224 hours a week on processing calls, and 75% of your calls could be resolved faster if you implemented knowledge management. That would result in the following calculation: 224 hours a week x 0.75 of calls x 0.10 = 16.8 hours of time saved each week. This means that one of your service desk employees could spend two days each week doing other things. Pretty amazing.

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