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KCS Best Practice Blog Series: Introducing KCS to your Agents

Michelle Stumpf, KCS (KM) Practice Director

Introducing KCS to your Agents

When implementing KCS across your contact or support center, your agents or analysts become the Knowledge Workers responsible for the articles in your knowledgebase.  These Knowledge Workers are at the heart of your KCS processes which will enable all of the benefits…  benefits to your customers, benefits to your organization and they’ll see some pretty amazing benefits as well.

Since KCS requires new tasks to be performed alongside their day-to-day responsibilities when responding to requests, you will need to have a clear plan in place for your agents.  In this blog, I’m going to focus on how to best introduce KCS to your agents, so you start off on the right foot!

Appropriate training is required.

Do not underestimate the power of training agents.  “An important part of the KCS journey for your agents is having your team participate in training that explains what KCS is and what it means for those who are going to participating in the Solve Loop,” said Arfinn Austefjord, Global Head of Training and Certification at the KCS Academy.“ The KCS Academy is proud to have Upland RightAnswers distinguish themselves not only as a KCS v6 Verified vendor, but also certified to provide the valuable KCS training and certifications that help introduce the methodology to your agents for creating and maintaining knowledge for customer service and support.”

We all realize that time is of the essence when it comes to pulling agents away from working on customer requests or issues.  However, when agents understand these key points, adopting KCS is going to be a much smoother process with a much higher level of participation:

  • What is KCS? Why are we doing this? How does this benefit our customers and our organization?  What’s in it for me?
    First things first, you need to have training that focuses on KCS from their perspective.   This is one of the most important aspects of being successful with your KCS adoption.  If you want your agents to follow a different process, contribute what they’re learning and the knowledge they have, they must understand how it’s going to benefit everyone including themselves.
  • How do I actually do KCS?
    Second, you will need to train them on their new KCS Workflow. A session like this typically begins in your ITSM/CRM or ticket/case management system and follows how the agent documents the issue, solves or escalates the issue or question and how they use, create and modify knowledgebase articles.
  • What is the company’s expectation when it comes to the articles I write?
    Third, you will need to review the Content Standard you’ve spent so much time putting together!  Walkthrough this step-by-step when creating articles so it’s thoroughly understood by all.  Taking some time upfront to review this instead of handing your agents a document to follow will quickly prove to be time well spent when you begin to realize higher quality articles were created right from the beginning.

A couple of additional best practices I’d like to share when it comes to agent training include:

  • Enable time at the end of each session for feedback, thoughts, and questions. Answer questions openly and honestly and remember to touch upon the “What’s In It For Me’s” where needed.  Also, don’t look at objections as being a negative thing, instead, look at them as being badly wrapped gifts.  We can’t respond to what we don’t know and if someone has negative thoughts and feelings, we want to work through them, not let them grow.
  • Provide a way to collect questions and feedback that come outside of training sessions and make sure it remains transparent. Some organizations have successfully implemented a KCS Community to have the questions and answers available where they can be openly discussed. Other organizations use one or multiple internal KB articles to keep that communication open and transparent. As people ask questions, answer them in the same article(s).

Talk positively about coaching… it isn’t a smackdown.

One of the most common misconceptions I’ve heard about coaching is that an agent will sit down with their coach to review everything they’ve done wrong so they can be corrected for the future.  With this approach, individual errors become the focus.  Coaching is an investment the company is making in building or improving specific skills, and in this case, KCS skills.  So talk about it in this way instead – it’s more positive and your knowledge workers are more likely to participate in a valuable way if they feel they’re not walking into a smackdown.   When we add coaching on top of training new skills, people are far more effective in using those new skills much quicker than by training alone.  The goal in most KCS organizations is to introduce KCS to their agents and have their skills get to a level where they are able to publish directly to self-service.  Appropriate coaching gets organizations to this point much quicker.

Motivate your Knowledge Workers as if they are volunteers…. Because THEY ARE!

Motivation is one of the keys to a successful KCS adoption so we need to understand how we best motivate our knowledge workers.  If we understand that all knowledge workers are volunteers, how we motivate will be more effective.  People only volunteer for things they care about, so we need to make them care about KCS.  It starts with that very first KCS training we deliver as this is a prime opportunity to get our knowledge workers excited about what’s coming.

“This is your job NOW” is not the right way.

With shifting our processes to align with the KCS methodology, there are so many benefits to those in your organization, that drawing this hard line in the sand stating, “This is your job now” is really quite unnecessary and can be quite detrimental as well – and unnecessarily so.  Train, coach and discuss the personal benefits your knowledge workers will see when they shift to the KCS processes and be sure to make sure you are communicating when you begin realizing the benefits and you’ll never have to resort to this kind of communication.   I’ve worked with organizations that have taken this approach and the result is always the same….  Great agents don’t stick around, they leave for other opportunities.

In addition to this ongoing blog series highlighting some of our best practices and lessons, we’d like to extend the invitation to join our KCS Community:

  1. Join our upcoming KCS Roundtable where we’ll be discussing these topics and more in a casual environment wherein true KCS fashion… everyone participates!
  2. Watch our On-Demand Webinar: I’m KCS Certified – Now What? 5 Tips to Prepare you for Knowledge Management Success
  3. Enhance your KCS knowledge by attending one of our upcoming KCS training sessions.
  4. Talk to me! If you’re unsure if KM or KCS is right for your organization or if you need some help with your plans to implement KCS, let’s have a talk about it. Contact me directly mstumpf@uplandsoftware.com

Also, my team and I are available to assist you with your KCS Implementations and have a range of services available from running something as simple as your KCS for Agents training to helping you implement KCS every step of the way!  Contact me directly for more information: mstumpf@uplandsoftware.com

In case you missed any of the previous posts in this series…


About the Author:

Michelle Stumpf is the KCS Practice Director for Upland RightAnswers where she shares her expertise and experience in Knowledge Management and KCS.  She is a certified KCS v6 Trainer who has certified hundreds of KCS Practitioners and other KCS trainers.  She has experience in establishing knowledge processes across contact/support centers and across the enterprise and coaches many organizations in Knowledge Management and KCS practices.

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