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Consortium for Service Innovation

Background and Context

Why and how we seek to measure knowledge success.

Why Measure Channel Success?

The goal of the service or support organization is to improve customer success and productivity with our products and services.  To do this successfully, we must understand the customer's activity and experience.

Traditionally, we in support have been focused solely on managing the cost of incoming cases, but the scope of customer engagement has expanded way beyond "the case." In environments where Knowledge-Centered Service (KCS®) is being used, the value created for the organization by removing roadblocks between knowledge and requestors (often by publishing it through a self-service mechanism) must be looked at in the context of the entirety of customer demand - not just engagement with an agent/knowledge worker through an assisted channel.

The benefits to the overall business of successfully delivering knowledge through self-service have led to industry-wide changes to customer engagement strategies and a wide array of new tools and technology to enable self-service content creation, delivery, and measurement.


Our objective is to provide a measurement framework that enables us to better articulate the value of delivering knowledge through various channels.  While we have referred to this as "measuring self-service success" over the course of this project, it has become clear that what we aim to do is measure the organization's success with delivering knowledge through self-service in the context of total demand.  To do this, we need to have input on what success means from both the requestor’s and the company’s point of view.  

Prior to this work, the support and service industry did not have a common vocabulary or a standard set of measures for assessing customer success with knowledge, nor did we have standard measures to assess the value of self-service mechanisms within our organizations.

Without a standard, companies had to create - and defend - their own measurement model. With different measurements and terminology, it is difficult to have meaningful conversations about customer engagement channels and their success. 


This paper was developed with two audiences in mind:

  1. The introduction, background and context, executive overview, and assumptions and limitations sections are intended to provide context for practitioners and leadership around why this is important.
  2. The remainder of the paper aims to provide "how-to" for folks who develop and manage the organization’s measurement model. 

The Service Engagement Measures Spreadsheet enables us to articulate the value of an effective customer engagement model beyond the current mindset of only focusing on cost-saving or the “give me one number to track” mentality.  The spreadsheet is designed to be used for an organization to benchmark against itself.

Understanding Demand

The Customer Demand Model is one of the foundational ideas that identifies the value of knowledge sharing. 

Traditionally, the support industry has been focused solely on managing the cases that come into the support center, and has understood cases as representing the total demand for support.  As Consortium Members have gained more visibility into the activity of their customers, it has become clear that for nearly all organizations, the volume of questions asked or issues raised in a self-service mechanism is ten times the demand coming into the assisted model.  In communities and social media spaces, the demand is thirty times what we see in the support center.  If we do the math on this, that means that we are serving less that 3% of the total demand our customers have through the assisted model. 

This means we have a huge opportunity to improve customer success and productivity with our products and services.  If we can leverage what we are learning in the assisted model by publishing that knowledge through other, more easily-accessible channels, we can reduce time and level of effort spent on finding answers to known issues, while making sure our knowledge workers are available in the assisted channel to work on new issues.  

Greg Oxton describes the Customer Demand Model in this 10 minute video.

Support Demand - new.png

Cost Avoidance is a Limiting Perspective

Demand for SupportAlso known as contact avoidance or case deflection, assessing the cost savings associated with issues solved through self-service engagement includes a number of pitfalls. 

From a holistic look at customer demand, customers pursue resolution to their issues in a number of ways.  Some of these issues are resolved with self-service.  But only a percentage of failed self-service attempts becomes a case or incident in the assisted model. 

Demand Flow ExampleThe Demand Flow example helps visualize this.  While there is some small percentage of issues that a customer will start researching in self-service, move to a chat bot, and then open a case in pursuit of an answer, there are many others where a customer will poke around in Google, maybe land on a self-service article, then get distracted, and then decide it wasn't that big of an issue to begin with.

Therefore, approaching self-service success with only cost avoidance in mind is a limiting perspective.  Our focus is improved customer success and reduced customer effort; leveraging our internal investment in KCS by providing knowledge through self-service is a key factor in meeting that goal.

The Customer Experience

Two key concepts that are fundamental to the Consortium’s work are the Value Erosion and Value Add Models. These models address the dynamics of maximizing customer value realization from our products and services, and provide additional context around our efforts to measure channel success. 

Very briefly: value erosion happens when a customer encounters an issue.  We want to minimize value erosion by facilitating customer success in finding a resolution as early in their pursuit of a resolution as possible.  Customer service and support has focused on the value erosion model for years, but we have an opportunity to look at how we add value. Can we increase the customer’s capability, reduce their effort, and create a pleasant experience without them experiencing an issue?  These can be important components of a successful self-service interaction.


Self-service is an important customer engagement method and, in many segments, it is the requestor’s preferred way to get information about our products, services, processes, and policies. Self-service activity is many times greater than assisted support activity. Requestors seek information via company-provided self-service mechanisms, communities, and social networks.

A requestor (customer, partner, or user) doesn’t necessarily distinguish an organization’s self-service mechanisms from what is available through communities and social networks.

Our goal is to provide a view of the health and value of knowledge offerings across all relevant channels. As a starting point, we are looking at the activity via self-service mechanisms and the assisted support center.

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