Since 1992, KCS® has provided companies with a way to better manage the creation and maintenance of knowledge produced by interactions between their employees and customers. It was developed by the Consortium for Service Innovation, a nonprofit alliance of service organizations that has helped push innovation in the technology and processes that companies use to capture and utilize knowledge.
Why “service” makes more sense than “support”
For most of its twenty-five-year history, KCS stood for “Knowledge-Centered Support.” With the release of Version 6 of KCS, the Consortium for Service Innovation made the first change to the name since the inception of the Consortium, swapping out “Support” for “Service.”
According to the Consortium’s website, the impetus behind this switch was to make the processes and best practices that define KCS “generic.” They envisioned the same knowledge management practices occurring at any point of interaction, rather than just agent/customer support interactions.
You might still see KCS referred to as “Knowledge-Centered Support.” This is because KCS methodology is till often limited to the support organization. The changes to technology and workflows required by KCS methodology are often significant—especially in companies that have been around for a long time.
Why some KCS organizations still lag behind
Getting buy-in at a departmental level can be difficult enough, let alone the entire company. For most companies, KCS amounts to little more than an increase in efficiency and cost savings when it is limited to support organizations. Support agents can solve cases more quickly, resulting in happier customer experiences and reduced cost-per-ticket.
But taking the KCS methodology beyond support to other organizations, namely customer success and sales, introduces the potential for greater value (hence the change to “service”). Here’s a look at how becoming a knowledge-centered business can have an overwhelmingly positive impact.
Three core benefits of a knowledge-centered business
Like interactions that define support cases, the interactions that occur during the sales process and through customer success generate a wealth of knowledge that can be recorded, refined, and reused. Capturing this information, though, is generally not viewed as part of the sales or success job description.
Yet, this knowledge is the backbone of the customer experience! It’s what will help customers validate your solutions, learn to use the products, and master it so they become loyal in the future.
1. Leverage a proven method for taking ownership of the process
One of the central tenets of KCS is the collective ownership of the knowledge. By expanding KCS to non-support departments, you can empower these roles to become part of the knowledge creation engine. Sales and success know a lot about the product and in a different way than support. They also know what it is that customers don’t know.
Capturing these queries is just as important to the process. Whether it’s information from the employees, customers, or partners, what these people know and don’t know over time contribute to improved experiences for everyone.
Recording the knowledge that results from sales and support interactions helps make the process more transparent and repeatable. Whereas most CRM implementations track the interactions, like emails and phone calls, KCS methodology can tie these events to specific product knowledge. For example:
- What features or concepts help move sales to close?
- What information can you expose to customers to encourage an upsell or renewal?
2. Give customers easy access to self-service knowledge content
Perhaps the most valuable part of capturing this knowledge is that it can be used to create an effective self-service strategy that can address the entire customer journey. According to Forrester, web self-service is one of the most popular interaction channels, with over 76 percent of respondents preferring it. But many companies still don’t make most information publicly available.
With a knowledge-centered business approach, companies can capture and reuse information that is highly relevant to stages of the customer journey that don’t get the same self-service attention as support.
3. Create demand through knowledge
One of the tenets of KCS is demand-driven knowledge, which is why recording knowledge at the point of interaction is critical to its success. With a large self-service presence that is accessible through Google, you’re providing a large footprint for capturing interactions where customers, partners, or employees are demanding information.
Through tracking these interactions with a combination of Google Analytics and content use analytics, you can discover what content connects your customers to your brand, what content is missing, and what content can use improvement.
These are just a few of the ways that placing KCS best practices at the center of every business interaction can help drive more revenue and improve the customer experience.