KCS: Does It Have to Be All or Nothing?

Knowledge Centered Service (KCS™) is almost undeniably the best methodology for managing knowledge – we’ve never trained anyone on KCS and they’ve come out of it thinking “Hmmm, maybe we could work with this,” it’s almost always an emphatic “How did we do KM without this?!,” but one question we do get from people is “Do we have to do it all?”

For those of you who are new to it, the KCS methodology is based upon the idea of putting knowledge in the hands of those who use it the most; viewing knowledge from a customer’s point of view; and using double-loop learning to set you up for long-term success. But at the core of KCS is actually just good old-fashioned logic. It’s not about following every step in a prescribed way, or making rigid plans and processes. KCS is about learning, sharing, and viewing the system as a whole. So, when we’re asked if it has to be all or nothing, the answer is definitely not.

That said, there are some elements that, in our experience, just aren’t negotiable if you’re going to make KCS work:

  • Agents owning the knowledge. This is critical for 2 reasons. Firstly, agents are the ones to use the knowledge, so they know what they need when it comes to how to find and use knowledge. Secondly, they are the ones talking to your customers most, so understand not only what customers need, but how they describe it, and therefore how they will search for answers.
  • Recognize contributions of learning and sharing over simply knowing. Knowledge hoarders – we all know one, you might even be one yourself at times. Those who will help by doing, rather than helping others to understand how to do it themselves. Think about it, if you work within a system where you are rewarded for what you know, then where’s the incentive to share that knowledge? If, however, you work in a system where you are rewarded for what you share and learn, knowledge hoarding can be a thing of the past.
  • Trust. It’s surprisingly rare when it comes to knowledge! We trust agents to talk to customers, to tell them answers, give them fixes, sell to them, and yet somehow the moment we talk about having them write about that in a knowledge article, panic ensues. A desire to create complex approval workflows creeps in and before you know it, you’ve got an approval cycle that takes weeks and even months instead of minutes, and 99% of the time it adds zero value to agents or customers.  In our extensive experience, putting your trust in your agents pays dividends, not only in knowledge management, but overall engagement and effectiveness of your teams.

In our time with KCS we’ve worked with organizations who don’t use the KCS model for roles, some who don’t have a content standard, or a strategic framework, and are still very successful with KCS. The key thing to note for each of these organizations was that these were conscious choices. They knew the methodology and what it recommended, but based on their unique situations, decided to take a different approach.

If you’re interested in KCS training or finding out whether KCS might be right for your organization, feel free to check out our blog entries or request a demo for a closer look at the solution in action.

About the Authors: Laura Yeomans (left) and Michelle Stumpf (right) are qualified KCS Trainers and have many years’ experience in running their own knowledge practices, as well as training and coaching others in Knowledge Management and KCS. 

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