Knowledge is king in today’s information-driven business world, as most knowledge managers like me know. Having the right information at customers' fingertips can greatly influence their perception of the customer support experience.
In today’s self-service world, a well-populated knowledge base with a reliable group of contributors is not enough to create a great experience. The content must be relevant and timely.
Like a car or motorcycle, knowledge base content needs regular maintenance. Over time, your knowledge base can become filled with hundreds or even thousands of stale, irrelevant articles. That’s when customers stop using it and new cases spike.
Facing knowledge base maintenance can be overwhelming. If you’re like me, you may have an impulse to bypass this step, delete everything, and start over.
Don’t do it. As a member of the team that uses ServiceNow® Knowledge Management to run our knowledge base, I have some tips to help you get your knowledge base content program on track:
1. Empower experts
Our front-line technical service engineers (TSEs) work alongside customers to solve issues every day. They have firsthand access to valuable knowledge. That’s why we have TSEs update and republish knowledge base articles as they work on cases. This way, the content stays relevant, even as an issue evolves over time.
Some knowledge managers fear losing control of content or publishing inaccurate information. That can happen. We use Knowledge-Centered Service (KCS®) to mitigate mistakes and ensure team-wide best practices. Having a methodology in place helps us find and correct errors quickly.
2. Choose groups over singles
In the past, it seemed more productive for one TSE to update articles in their area of expertise. That assured the right answer. We find it’s even easier to have a group of people own a topic.
When an author owner leaves the team or company and takes that knowledge with them, delays to KB updates result. Instead, we rely on an owner group of experts, overseen by a manager. Updating articles is part of a routine, with shared accountability across several people, not one.
3. Ask for feedback
We encourage feedback on knowledge base articles from both customers and employees (those outside the article’s ownership). This helps us determine when an article is no longer useful.
Negative feedback is especially valuable. If someone selects the thumbs-down icon, we request a comment to help us understand why the article isn’t beneficial. Then we either fix it or retire it. We also use service-level agreements to verify an issue is resolved by the appropriate article owner group.
4. Review, update, and repeat
To ensure information is relevant and timely, we also incorporate four standard processes for updating knowledge base content:
Quarterly content reviews — We ask our subject matter experts to refine and improve the top-performing content. They make edits, add images, and insert links to other content to make articles more relevant and searchable.
Automatic retirement — We define usage criteria, such as number of views or attaches, to identify and retire low-performing content. You can always bring retired content back if needed.
External content — We examine how much of our content is internal versus customer-facing. Our goal is to make all relevant content available to customers. Top-performing internal articles can often be made accessible to customers with light edits. For example, a content creator may have forgotten to make the content external-facing or wanted another review before making it public.
Proactive, not reactive — We challenge our TSEs to create content based on trends they see. A usage dashboard is extremely helpful in tracking search terms or cases/incidents without articles attached. It offers great opportunities for proactive knowledge creation on popular topics.
Making relevant, timely articles available can help customers find the answers they need, when they need them. It can also help reduce the number of new cases being created.
Find out more about our knowledge management journey in 7 tips for knowledge managers to increase self-service.
KCS® is a service mark of the Consortium for Service Innovation™.
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