By Andrew Graf, Chief Product Strategist, TeamDynamix

Building and maintaining an organizational knowledge base (KB) can be an extensive undertaking. Taking the time to thoughtfully do so, however, can yield powerful benefits for years to come, especially for public sector organizations.  Employees will benefit from more efficient processes, thus freeing up time to focus on more strategic projects; constituents will benefit from more thorough and consistent services.

Knowledge-centered service (KCS®)prioritizes knowledge as a key organizational asset.  As a framework, KCS can empower both internal and external stakeholders to seek answers to their questions independently thus allowing for better resource management internally, and higher constituent satisfaction externally.

When an organization implements KCS, one of the most visible benefits is a reduction in the number of inbound requests – up to 70%.  KCS fosters an organizational environment where information is continually developed based on requests, existing knowledge is curated in a meaningful way, and teams ultimately become more efficient.  KCS also lays the groundwork for a career path for project managers – there are multiple levels of certification and continuing education – both elements that can drive increased employee engagement, thus driving employee retention.

There are many ways to measure the benefits KCS can have for an organization:

  • Frequency of self-service – How often are employees and constituents able to answer their own questions? Is there a noticeable drop in requests of a certain type?
  • Speed to resolution – KCS can bring a 50% reduction in speed to resolution of inquiries. This translates to more-efficient, cost-effective processes and better overall service to employees and constituents.
  • Quality of content – KCS can bring a 20-35% increase in satisfaction. Another metric to assess quality of content is resolution of inquiries on first contact.  This data provides important feedback on whether content is complete and actionable – and provides a path forward for continuous improvement of the knowledge library.

Once an organization understands the benefits of KCS and decides to implement, what are the first steps to moving forward?

Before an organization begins building its knowledge base (KB), it must first select a knowledge platform.  Content indexing is critical to building a platform that supports KCS.  The platform must support robust and flexible indexing.  It should also enable users to search internal and external content.  For example, does the platform you’re considering allow content to be found via Google?

The solution should have the flexibility to meet unique organizational needs.  For example, can you brand the KB to reflect the look and feel of the overall organization, whether that’s a city, state, county, or specific agency or department.  Individuals expect to be able to access information seamlessly from any type of device.  As such, the knowledge platform must support tablets and mobile devices to ensure wider reach.  A KB is a constantly evolving entity.  The platform must ensure scalability to grow with the organization’s needs as well as provide the ability to easily accommodate and support new types and forms of content as technology and requirements change.

Once the platform is in place, organizations face the decision of where to focus first when building their KB.  To begin, identify which questions are asked the most.  Then, assess whether those questions can be avoided through self-service content.  For example, is the IT team getting asked the same troubleshooting question over and over?  Organizations that create knowledge assets and enable self-service responses to these type of repetitive inquiries, ultimately free IT team time and resources to focus on more strategic modernization initiatives.  If an organization uses a ticketing system for inbound requests, it can easily track which questions are asked most frequently and begin by building a KB around those inquiries.  As the KB grows, it is important to update and maintain on an ongoing basis.

Implementation of KCS in the public sector is emerging.  There is growing awareness, and implementation is accelerating as solutions mature and public sector organizations understand the immediate and long-term fiscal and experiential benefits of KCS.  For example, a state run university determined its call center was answering a large volume of questions that constituents should have been able to answer themselves.  Its first goal after deciding to implement KCS was to create 200 knowledge-based articles over six months to answer commonly asked questions.  The university ultimately created more than 1,400 knowledge-based articles, and its inbound call volume dropped nearly 60%.

This story is not unique – there are a growing number of examples across the public sector.  KCS has the power to drive better resource allocation, especially critical if an organization is facing constraints due to budget stagnation or cutbacks.  Choosing a comprehensive platform, then spending time upfront to create a KB will empower constituents and employees to be self-sufficient, freeing time and resources to focus on innovative and transformative projects.

*The KCS® methodology is a registered service mark of the Consortium for Service Innovation.

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