Skip to main content
Consortium for Service Innovation

Phase 3: Leveraging

With positive momentum and confidence from Phase 2, we move to the Leveraging phase. While we continue to improve knowledge worker competence and the Solve and Evolve Loop processes, we are now looking to leverage the value of the knowledge we have captured in the knowledge base. Phase 3 includes promoting self-service and optimizing the Evolve Loop processes to identify organizational improvements.

In Phase 3 we must expand the scope of our measurement model. The value we create in leveraging the knowledge base can not be measured inside the support organization. As we progress through Phase 3 with the increasing success of self-service, our traditional transaction-based measures will not reflect the value we are creating. In fact, if we are successful with the Phase 3 initiatives, the traditional incident-based measures will all go in the wrong direction.

Delivering Value Through Self-Service

With effective self-service, many customers will resolve their own issues, and they will resolve issues they would not have bothered to call about. Overall activity through the self-service mechanisms are likely to be 10 times higher than the incident volume in the baseline. This activity is indicative of the pent-up demand for support information. We are improving customers’ access to information, and, therefore, their success with our products and services, at nearly zero incremental cost (from a content-generation standpoint).

There are numerous and compelling benefits in getting the requestors to start their resolution process in the self-service mechanism.  The benefits are realized by the requestors as well as the support organization.   A well designed self-service mechanism should be the path of least resistance and best results for the requestor, reducing their effort in finding resolutions to their issues.  And in environments where the requestor is known (sign-in or authentication), there is a huge opportunity to tailor the requestor's experience based on what we know about them, their environment and their past engagements.  The benefits for the organization include improved loyalty and renewal rates, reducing churn and increasing the total lifetime value of the requestor.      

We emphasize web-based self-service rather than other emerging self-service mechanisms, such as integration of self-service functions into the user interface for the offerings and automation, because web-based self-service (a portal) is currently the most common approach and the most measurable.

Most of the myths about “why my customers won’t use the web” have been proven wrong. However, there are a few environments (very few) where web-based self-service does not make sense. For those rare situations, the organization has to find other creative ways to enable self-service. The goal is to enable requestors to resolve known issues with less effort than it takes to open an incident.

There are five critical elements to customer success with self-service:

  1. Findability - The content must be in the context of those who are using self-service (KCS addresses this)
  2. Completeness - Most of what we have learned internally must be available to self-service quickly; 90/0 (KCS addresses this)
  3. Access - Making it easy to access self-service for the users (integration of self-service into the offering interface)
  4. Navigation - Support browsing and searching, and offer easy transition from self-service to assisted (no dead ends)
  5. Marketing - A plan to rasise awareness and encourage use of self-service

 

For details on these key enablers please see the KCS v6 Practices Guide.

Consistent and effective customers' use of our self-service mechanisms takes time to develop. Customer behaviors don't change overnight. While promoting self-service is a Phase 3 activity, the growth of self-service use and the resulting impact on the nature of the work in the assisted model will continue into Phase 4. An increase in the ratio of new to known issues being handled in the assisted model is a powerful indicator of a successful self-service model. But it takes patience and persistence to achieve a change in the new vs known ratio.

External to the support organization but internal to the organization at large, we can identify improvement opportunities to the respective owners of the products, services, processes and policies. The reuse patterns, trends, and clusters of articles in the knowledge base enable the KDEs to identify the issues that are the most disruptive to the customers. These improvement opportunities along with quantifiable data powers new ways of influencing organizational learning and improvement. Access to this data provides an opportunity to develop new cross-functional, customer-based measures. Our broader impact on organizational learning and improvement is a primary benefit of the KCS Evolve Loop processes.

Self-Service Measures

Measuring the customer experience and success with self-service is an art as much as it is science. This is an area of continued focus and work by the Consortium members.

We want to understand the customer experience and the value customers are realizing from the use of self-service.  Additionally, we want to assess the effectiveness and health of our self-service mechanisms as well as the benefit it is creating for our organization. As we have mentioned, there is no single indicator that reflects self-service success. We have to look at a number of different indicators in order to have confidence in assessing the self-service experience. The following are examples of self-service indicators.

Indicators of value realized by the customer

  • Self-service use - the percentage of customers who use the web before opening an incident
  • Self-service success - the percentage of time customers find what they need in self-service
  • Customer effort scores - did we make it easy for the customer to find a resolution (survey)

Indicators for the health of the self-service mechanism

  • Time to publish - how long it takes new articles to be available through self-service
  • Percentage of articles available through self-service - of all the customer actionable articles in our internal knowledge base, what percentage are available to self-service.
  • Number of unique visitors/month (trend)
  • Number of visits or sessions/month
  • Number of article page views/session, views/month (trends)
  • Number of downloads/session, downloads/month (trends)
  • Number of searches/session, searches/month (trends)
  • Percentage of searches with results
  • Percentage of sessions that resulted in an incident being opened (or incident opened within 24 hours of a self-service session)

Indicators of value to the organization

  • Cost savings - the value of resolving issues through self-service for which the requestor would have opened an incident. This represents a small subset of the total customer success with self-service. Sadly, this is often referred to as incident deflection or avoidance. These are not customer-friendly terms or concepts and have no place in our customer service vocabulary. Self-service is a customer engagement strategy, not an avoidance or deflection strategy.
  • Correlation of self-service use to customer loyalty
  • Cost per resolution offered (particularly interesting to compare cost of resolution offer via self-service vs via the assisted model)

CALCULATING COST SAVINGS

While we believe the value of offering effective self-service mechanisms is far greater than the cost savings of enabling customers to solve issues that they would have created a case for, we also realize that we often have to respond to the "show me the money" request from executives.

To assess cost savings we have to use the triangulation concept. The three perspectives:

  1. Assessing Self Service Success: TriangulationVariations in incident volume – a ratio
    1. Change in the incident volume in the support center
    2. Shift in the ratio of known to new (70/30 to 30/70)
  2. Self-service success – surveys
    1. User survey to determine “success rate” and “would have escalated” factor
  3. Self-service success – clickstream analysis
    1. Observed behavior in self-service
    2. Click stream patterns and probabilities

Each of the three indicators on their own have ambiguity… But, together we can use them to triangulate on an incident avoidance that we have confidence in.

Customer Journey Mapping is another very helpful tool that enables us to visualize and assess the customer experience. Over time, Phase 3 activities should significantly shift the customer journey to start the resolution process in self-service.

Delivering Value Through Organizational Improvements

Now that we have captured most of what we know in the knowledge base, the analysis of that captured knowledge can provide valuable insights about our products, services, processes, and policies. We refer to these collectively as opportunities for organizational improvement. It is the knowledge domain analysis that the Knowledge Domain Experts (KDEs) facilitate that identifies these opportunities. The KDEs identify high-value content, content gaps, and optimal diagnostic or procedural information. For more information on the role of the KDE and KDE techniques see the KCS v6 Practices Guide.

The value that support creates cannot be measured inside the support organization.

Once upon a time, the support transaction (the incident) was everything; it was the primary unit of work as well as the basis for a measure of success for support organizations. As we move from Phase 3 to Phase 4, the transaction is still interesting, but its value is relatively small in comparison with the value we create by leveraging the knowledge base through self-service and identifying organizational improvements based on article reuse patterns. Phase 3 introduces an expanded scope and new measures for the value support creates.

Exit Criteria for Phase 3

When all the KCS Solve and Evolve Loop processes are in place and functioning and we have captured most of what we know in the knowledge base for a given domain....we are ready to move to Phase 4.

From KCS v6 Adoption Guide:

Phase 3 Activities

Benefits

Readiness Evidence

Articles available for self-service

Customers have faster visibility to article

  • % of knowledge base available to self-service
  • 90/0 rule—90% of requestor-actionable knowledge is available to requestors within 0 minutes of becoming known.

Selfservice use

Customer success with self-service

Frequency with which customers use self-service before opening an incident is increasing

Self-service success Customer's ability to solve issues without opening a case Positive trend in customers' ability to find useful information

The source of pervasive issues are being identified

Organizational improvements

Increase in the number of organizational improvements identified (product function, service, process, policy)

Incident volume decreased

  • Cost savings
  • Opportunities to create additional value for customers

Number of requests/ incidents declines (this needs to be normalized to install base or revenue in order to account for the dynamics of the organization)

Customer satisfaction and loyalty increased

Increase customer success

Increase from the baseline

Employee satisfaction and loyalty increased

Increase profit

Increase from the baseline

Work has become more meaningful

Motivation factor for employees

Employee satisfaction increased from baseline

Assess self-service (New vs Known study)  Improve self-service experience (success rate) Improvement in new vs known ratio

 

  • Was this article helpful?