Our recent webinar, Agile Knowledge Management for Support, generated plenty of conversation. David Kay and our own Bonnie Chase dug into new approaches to agile knowledge management and how those impact knowledge-centered service (KCS®) methodology.

As it turns out, agile support and KCS methodology are related in many ways,  iteration, prioritization and team centricity principal among them.

To keep the conversation going, here’s a brief recap of some takeaways from the webinar, including additional insights from David Kay and the team at D B Kay & Associates.

A return to the four principles of KCS methodology

You might be familiar with the four principles that underpin KCS methodology:

  • Abundance
  • Create value
  • Demand-driven
  • Trust

When we hear the term “Agile knowledge management”—and knowing what we know about KCS—it’s easy to only consider these four principles vis-a-vis technical writers and knowledge managers.

But what about customer support agents?

How Agile and KCS enable agent efficiency

Here’s an example to illustrate the point: customer support agents creating support content.

“Knowledge capture,” as it were.

  1. It starts with the opportunity for knowledge capture created by all the support cases coming in on a daily basis. Support agents can create solutions based on these cases; if even one agent could use a solution to solve a case in the future, it’s worth adding to the knowledge base (abundance).
  2. The capture of on-the-ground-knowledge can in turn make agents more efficient, thus lowering customer effort (create value).
  3. Cases continue coming in, creating opportunities for support agents to create solutions around high-demand, high-volume issues (demand-driven).
  4. Finally, none of this happens unless support agents are given agency to create content in the flow (trust).

Agile’s iterative development process very much aligns with KCS techniques. With KCS, captured content is sufficient to solve a case, but it is improved iteratively from that point on. Each reuse is, essentially, a review. That means the content doesn’t need to be 100% perfect the first time around. If the content is “sufficient to solve,” we can get it live with the understanding that it will be improved in iterations as agents reuse the content.

KCS and Agile development – what’s the relationship?

We received this question from a webinar attendee and asked D B Kay & Associates to weigh in. “Effective Agile teams are really good at knowing what is or isn’t an issue—at identifying which problems require work and which can be reprioritized until a later time.” Just as Agile requires prioritization of the requirements backlog, KCS necessitates content prioritization.

It’s triage, in a sense.

“Working as a group within a workflow to read the situation,” continues Kay, “respond with sufficient to solve solutions, and move on.”

The same goes for software development, knowledge management, and customer support.

What does Agile team evaluation actually look like?

Team measures over individual metrics—this was another point of discussion during the webinar. But what does Agile team evaluation actually look like?

Again, from D B Kay & Associates:

Whether a teammate is pulling their weight or not, this will soon be made clear in an Agile support environment.

And that’s a good thing.

Back to the drawing board? Not quite …

As David Kay points out, Agile is an ongoing process. Just like KCS. There are technological limitations, sure. Organizational silos to overcome. Enabling agents to create knowledge won’t happen overnight. Implementing Agile team evaluations won’t, either.

Indeed, the principles behind KCS and Agile are not quick fixes—they require consistency over time and a willingness to adapt. But responding and adapting to new market demands is part of what Agile is all about.

Many eyes on the problem. Regular updates and adjustments.

That’s what make Agile support and KCS methodology such a potent combination.

P.S. For a straightforward, thorough explanation of the fundamentals of Agile, we recommend “Embracing Agile” in Harvard Business Review.

KCS® is a service mark of the Consortium for Service Innovation.

Additional categories: Customer Support, Knowledge Management