Successful adoption of the KCS methodology offers profound benefits for any information-intensive organization. As we mentioned earlier KCS is transformational for most groups in that it changes and increases the value proposition of support. The benefits realized in the short term can be tracked using traditional support metrics. The longer-term benefits are in new areas of value creation and, therefore, require new measures.
We provide an overview of the phase of adoption here as the phases are referenced from time to time in the practice and technique descriptions that follow.
To fully address the approach to adoption the Consortium for Service Innovation has written the KCS Adoption Guide. This guide will provide a step-by-step approach for planning a KCS adoption. Our aim is to share what we have learned about what makes for a successful KCS adoption and help you avoid some of the common mistakes. The KCS Adoption Guide, the "Measurement Matters" paper, and other important KCS reference material are available for free from the Consortium and can be downloaded from the web site at www.serviceinnovation.org or www.thekcsacademy.net.
The Consortium members recognized early on that "KCS is a journey, not a destination." Built into the KCS model is a process for continuous learning and improvement. As in any journey, there are milestones along the way: intermediate goals. And, as with any journey, there are periods of travel and periods of rest. However, if we rest too long or in the wrong place, the initiative loses momentum and the benefits are not sustained.
For each phase, we describe the relevant benefits and measures and how these factors change as we mature from adoption through proficiency to leverage of the knowledge base. We specifically note the telltale conditions, the exit criteria, which help leaders know they are entering the next phase.
Understanding of the phases is critical, because the level and type of benefits vary through each phase. Awareness of the dynamics of the phases is necessary in order to optimize and sustain the benefits of KCS. KCS will stall if we don't appropriately shift the management focus and measure new and different indicators at each phase.
A challenge for KCS leaders is managing expectations of the KCS ROI as the program matures within the organization. The near term benefit seen at the end of Phase 3 (increase in support capacity) is usually more than enough to justify the adoption program cost. The longer-term benefits realized in Phase 4 (self-service success and product improvements) may or may not be appropriate to talk about at the outset. The timing of that discussion depends on the perspective of executives and how willing they are to see an expanded role and contribution from support. The longer-term benefits are in areas that are not usually viewed as being in scope for support organizations and so are not measured today. Unfortunately the pragmatic "show me the money" types may struggle to relate to the broader value proposition.
To lay the groundwork for this new role for support, Phase 1 describes the baseline measurements, Phase 2 and Phase 3 discuss the internal operational efficiency, while the Phase 4 discussion offers ideas for quantifying contributions outside the traditional support parameters - which must expand beyond internal operational efficiency.
Using a phase-based discussion framework for the focus, measures, and benefits allows KCS leaders to describe the different competencies, efficiencies, and contributions in a way that is relevant to the organization.
Although we describe KCS adoption as a journey, it may be more accurate to think of it as a continuous process of learning and improvement. As KCS is adopted, an organization enjoys an evolution of its people and their skills, its processes and the supporting technology, and its relationships with its customers and other internal organizations. The maturing knowledge base, talent base, and self-service support model contributes new organizational value.
Four distinct phases mark progress and must be measured with relevant measures:
Sample Organizational Measurements
Planning and Design
Build tools required for successful adoption
Gather baseline measurements
Set realistic internal and external expectations
Executive sponsor buy in
First draft of project deliverables
Create internal understanding and excitement through initial competency
Establish internal referenceability
Ratio of known to new incidents
Article quality index
Create and mature the knowledge base
Increase process efficiency
Reduce time to proficiency
Improve collaboration and Analyst satisfaction
Cost per incident
Percentage first contact resolution
Time to proficiency for new employees and new technologies
Time to publish
4: Leverage of the Knowledge Base
Optimize resource utilization
Reduce support cost
Increase customer success
Improve employee satisfaction
Improve products and services
Support cost as a percentage of revenue
Customer loyalty (renewal rate; new product/upgrade adoption rate)
Customer satisfaction (speed to resolution; first call resolution)
Employee satisfaction (survey)
Employee turnover rate
Self-service use (call deflection or issues resolved without assistance
Ratio of known to new incidents being handled by the support organization
Product Improvements (Number of Requests for Enhancements (RFEs) accepted by product development)
Time to adopt new/upgraded products
We use phase-appropriate measurements to assess when we are ready to move to the next phase. The right measurements for each phase will provide honest feedback and promote the correct behaviors. Getting measurements wrong can result in either a delay in moving to the next phase or a premature advance to the next phase, either way the result will be diminished KCS benefits.
For example the impact of effective customer self-service, typically part of Phase 4, Leverage, changes everything. While KCS techniques improve the efficiency and quality of assisted support, most teams are also using it to enable a shift from the assisted model (incidents handled in the support center) to a self-service model (customers solving issues on their own by accessing knowledge). By capturing knowledge and making it available broadly, KCS helps Support Analysts shorten resolution times and improve capacity in Phases 2 and 3. The measures in this phase are familiar: average work time to resolve, cost per incident, first contact resolution and number of incidents handled per Analyst per month. At Phases 2 and 3 trends in these measures accurately reflect improvement.
The picture changes dramatically in Phase 4, however, as customers gain access to the well-developed knowledge base. Customers help themselves to information earlier in the exception process. Many of their questions and concerns are answered quickly, on demand, without support center assistance or the need to escalate.
If we are successful in promoting customer use of self-service and customers are successful in finding what they need, the traditional metrics—average work time to resolve, cost per incident, and number of incidents handled per Analyst per month—seeminlgy start to head in the opposite direction from the great results in Phase 3. It may appear that an increase in average work time to resolve, cost per incident going up, and a decrease in incidents handled per Analyst per month is a negative trend but the customer productivity and support experience is vastly improved. What has gone wrong? Nothing. Phase 4 simply needs different measurements—customer use of and success with self-service, product improvements based on the patterns in the knowledge base, and the positive impact on customer and employee loyalty become the key indicators of the support organizations health and value. Because customers are solving known issues through self-service the traditional transaction based measures will all "go the wrong way" and this a good thing; a sign of success! We have moved the known work to self-service and our Support Analysts are now spending a high percent of their time on new issues, which is how we should be using the talents of our Support Analysts.
As support is transformed from a transaction-based model to a highly leveraged relationship-based model we need to measure a broader set of things to reflect the health and value of the support organization. A clear understanding of the dynamics and an accurate interpretation of the measures is key to successful implementation of KCS initiatives.
How we measure the benefits and the nature of those benefits change as we move through the KCS adoption phases. Below is a conceptual representation of the realization of benefit across the phases of adoption.
Along with changes in the measurement system there are also changes in how we think about and implement the KCS practices as we move through the phases of adoption. The majority of the practice and technique definitions that follow are described in the context of Phase 2, Adoption, and Phase 3, Proficiency. At times in discussing the practices we will make the distinction between what a practice looks like in the early phases versus how that practice will appear in Phase 4, Leverage.