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Important Lessons Learned

The concepts behind KCS are really quite simple.

The Solve Loop:

  • Integrating the creation and maintenance of knowledge into the problem solving process
  • Making the knowledge “sufficient to solve”
  • The idea of letting demand drive our focus for what knowledge to create and what knowledge to improve

The Evolve Loop:

  • Leveraging knowledge for self-service
  • Identifying high value content based on Article reuse
  • Identifying high impact opportunities to improve the products or services based on the customer experience (patterns and trends in the knowledge base)


These concepts are well established in academic work and research. Many of the concepts in KCS align with the quality concepts of Dr. Deming (see Deming’s 14 Principles of Quality on Wikipedia). Nonaka and Takahachi ‘s book The Knowledge Creating Company was a constant reference during the formative years of KCS.


Why then do organizations struggle with KCS adoption?


It is because a successful adoption of KCS requires that we rethink traditional support processes, structures, measures, and management practices.  That’s a hard thing to do!

Familiar “Ditches”

Following are the most common points of failure in KCS adoptions:

  • Lack of line management ownership
    • It is important to have a strong staff or adoption team to support the KCS adoption.  However, the ownership for KCS success must lie with the first- and second-line managers.  KCS is a bigger change for management than it is for the Support Analysts.
  • Ineffective coaching program
    • Picking the wrong Coaches – Coaches need to have a belief in KCS and strong influence and interpersonal skills, not necessarily technical skills
    • Not creating time for coaching sessions
  • Not having the Support Analysts design the workflow and content standard
    • Don’t let management be involved in designing the workflow or the content standard. Let the Support Analysts own both, and keep both simple!
  • Not changing the metrics as we move from Phase 2 to Phase 3
    • Traditional support measures will show dramatic improvement in the early phases of adoption.  As we start to quickly deliver a high percentage of what we know through self-service, the traditional event-based measures will all go in the “wrong” direction.  We must re-set executive expectations and understanding of the traditional measures and introduce measures that include customer use and success with self-service.  The value and health of support can no longer be measured inside of support!


Once KCS has been implemented in an organization, that organization must transform its measurements from transaction-based to value-based.  The health and contribution of the value being created can no longer be measured by the time and number of transactions processed.  The value must be measured in terms of the effectiveness of the knowledge flow and collaboration that goes beyond the traditional boundaries of the organization, in all directions. 


KCS continues to evolve. If you would like to be part of creation of the next version of KCS, become a member of the Consortium for Service Innovation at www.serviceinnovation.org.


This guide comes from lessons learned through the collective experiences of members of the Consortium for Service Innovation.  Below are some quotes from member Program Managers who have adopted KCS.

What worked well with your KCS Adoption?

  • "The biggest skeptics turned out to be our biggest evangelists – once they experienced the benefits."
  • "Reuse counts helped us get the right information on the self-service web site."
  • "Piloting the process and content standard with the tools we already had before purchasing a new tool."
  • "The KCS Foundation Workshop was high impact and an important element in our success.”
  • "Customers using the same search tool and knowledge base as used internally."
  • "Gathering a lot of feedback on how to make the tools better."


What did you learn from your KCS adoption?

  • "The way it is sold to the agents is important.  They need to understand the big picture as well as what’s in it for them."
  • "Clear accountability – the managers have to own KCS success. It can not be viewed as staff function, or viewed as something extra or additional to handling incidents. KCS has to become a core competency, integral to the business.”
  • "Wish we had a better understanding of what we needed for success before we went shopping for a tool.”
  • "Understand engineer workflow before switching a new tool."
  • "Can’t sustain KCS without continuing change and improvement."
  • "Have resources aligned. You can not over-communicate what KCS is about and why you are doing it.”
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