Phy-gital Roundtable: Breakfast Roundup from Germany and Netherlands

02 May '15 | Debjyoti Paul

German Shoppers: Meet Them in the Fast Lane to Phy-gital

15 January '15 | Ralf Reich

Shoppers Will Share Personal Information (But They Don’t Want to be “Friends”)

15 January '15 | Anil Venkat

Modernize or Perish: Property and Casualty Insurers and IT Solutions

14 January '15 | Manesh Rajendran

Benelux Reaches the Phy-gital Tipping Point: Omnichannel Readiness is Crucial

13 January '15 | Anil Gandharve

The New Omnichannel Dynamic: Finding Core Principles Across Industries

13 January '15 | Debjyoti Paul

Technology does not disrupt business – CIO day 2014 Roundup

02 December '14 | Anshuman Singh

Apple Pay – The Best Is Yet To Come

02 December '14 | Indy Sawhney

Digital transformation is a business transformation enabled by technology

01 December '14 | Amit Varma

3 Stages of FATCA Testing and Quality Assurance

06 October '14 | Raman Suprajarama

3 Reasons why Apple Pay could dominate the payments space

18 September '14 | Gaurav Johri

Beacon of Hope: Serving Growth and Customer Satisfaction

05 August '14 | Debjyoti Paul

The Dos and Don’ts of Emerging Technologies Like iBeacon

30 July '14 | Debjyoti Paul

What You Sold Us On – eCommerce Award Finalist Selections

17 July '14 | Anshuman Singh

3 Steps to Getting Started with Microsoft Azure Cloud Services

04 June '14 | Koushik Ramani

8 Steps to Building a Successful Self Service Portal

03 June '14 | Giridhar LV

Innovation outsourced – a myth or a mirage or a truth staring at us?

13 January '14 | Ramesh Hosahalli

What does a mobile user want?

03 January '14 | Gopikrishna Aravindan

Why do so Many KM Initiatives Fail in Technical Support (TS) Operations?

Posted on: 30 November '09

Knowledge management (KM) has enormous potential to improve operational efficiencies and customer satisfaction in a TS setup. But, far too many KM initiatives fail at various stages of implementation. Let us take a closer look at some of the reasons:

Lack of organizational leadership to encourage collaborative culture: Effective implementation of KM involves introducing sizeable changes to the way support teams work. Absence of a KM champion, acting as a catalytic change agent, makes it difficult for the KM initiative to take off. You need someone who evangelizes (read: thinks, dreams, breathes) KM passionately.

Knowledge has limited shelf-life: Delay in capturing or sharing knowledge base (KB) substantially reduces its utility. You may be losing valuable time in your efforts to review and sanitize the knowledge. In the absence of a published KB article, your support engineers are sharing their solutions with the customers anyway.

KB does not capture the customer’s context: KB articles mostly talk about the root cause of a problem and the solution, but leave out the customer context. Customers do not call in saying, “IMAP proxy server crashes when the TCP packet size is XXX.” When you record the customer’s context, your frontline engineers can find the relevant KB article based on how customers describe their problem.

Knowledge is not captured based on demand: Unless you keep a watchful eye on what your customers are searching for (indicator of demand), you would not know what topics your new KB articles should cover.

Case management and KM are not integrated: This is the most common situation when you have a legacy case management system that does not support sophisticated KM workflow and you bring in a separate application for KM. This further de-motivates the support engineers as they now have to work with multiple systems

Knowledge is not searchable and usable: Knowledge needs to be captured using well designed templates during the support workflow. If these templates do not clearly separate the problem and solution from the general administrative information (Eg: “I have promised Jim that I will install the probe patch at 11PM.”) captured knowledge becomes less useful.

Vitality of knowledge is not maintained continuously: If your customer searches KB a few times and does not find useful articles or worse, finds some outdated/obsolete knowledge, you can be sure that she is not going try again. Responsibility of keeping KB current should lie with every support engineer and the triggers for edits/deletions should be integrated into the support workflow.

Using wrong parameters for measuring performance: If you measure the activities performed by engineers to reward them for their KM contributions, you will soon see false superstars emerge with loads of KM activity, but very little business results. You should also measure desired outcome of KM activities (first call resolution, number of useful solutions created, quality of solution etc.)

Lack of effective communication: However great your vision is and lofty your goals are for KM, unless the benefits are effectively communicated to all the stakeholders (customers, engineers, management), your adoption rate will leave a lot to desire.

Do let me know your experiences.

Srinivasa Rao

Srinivas has 20 years experience in the IT industry and currently heads the Technical Support practice at Mindtree. He started his career as a design and manufacturing consultant for CAD/CAM. With core expertise in Unix system administration, he supported fault-tolerant HP NonStop-UX systems and Mirapoint's enterprise secure messaging appliance servers. He led teams that developed test suites for fault-tolerant features of NonStop-UX. In his current role he is responsible for technical support service delivery excellence, building world class support teams, technology learning initiatives, customer relationship management. Srinivas has a Master's degree in machine dynamics and robotics from Indian Institute of Technology, Kharagpur.

  • KSR
    Seeing KM as an addendum to effort for support is never going to be paid by customers or accepted by support personnel. We will have to view job in hand with a knowledge transaction view point. So I will add another important reason.

    Lack of a tool that seamlessly integrates with the support personnel’s activity with key knowledge capture activity.

  • Hi Srini,
    I agree with you. Point 1 is the most important. If there is such a person, the other issues are surmounted. Unfortunately, in most organisations, while KM can be the backbone, it is not treated as a “glamorous job”. This reminds me of Mr. Bagchi’s article on Job Satisfaction. You have made some great points here.
    Another issue that crops up is who should have access to the knowledge that has been uploaded. Limiting it to a few has its disadvantages, whereas throwing it open could lead to a copy paste culture.

  • Srinivasa Rao

    Hi Lubna,

    It is made unglamorous by relegating it to just reviewing the articles. In tech support context, every support engineer should be play a KM role [Knowledge Centered Support (KCS) defines a wonderful methodology for this] in a way that is integrated with the regular workflow. Access to knowledgebase should be based on the content (externally consumable or restricted for internal consumption). If the context is correct and the customer situation matches, reuse is the fundamental purpose of a KB helping us avoid reinventing the solution. Problem is with the way we develop KB, that makes it hard to find good matches.

    Best Regards,

  • Steve

    I agree with all of this. Any thoughts about the best KM collaboration tools & methods to use in large organisations? Especially need to extract knowledge from support engineers’ heads and get it onto the website…

  • Interesting perspectives.”Limited shelf life” is key. Real ROI depends on how fast one can deliver complete information with accuracy.Especially in the web 2.0 world where software upgrades happen in every 2-3 months. Often KB articles are written reviewed and published, after the rain is over ! In the new world, traditional KB systems can’t be effective without a good customer community forum. Accountability is often an issue of the solutions given on customer forums but then it opens up the topic on effective moderation…..

  • Mrs. Pritee Chak

    Hi Shrini
    it is looking intresting and helpful for me