3 Key Insights For Effective Knowledge Orchestration
The September FLOURISH Executive Roundtable was full of great insights and ideas to help maximize customer retention and satisfaction through knowledge orchestration. Highly experienced customer-facing leaders from a wide range of industries came together to learn and grow in a highly engaging discussion.
Knowledge orchestration is the subtle art and, arguably, a demanding science for building effective knowledge programs and content that provides customers access to accurate, consistent, relevant content to better support customer’s needs. Effective knowledge orchestration is a driver and enabler of customer success while delivering a fantastic customer experience. When done well, high-impact knowledge orchestration efforts accelerate customer time to value, reduce demand (and costs) for support, and enable you to scale your efforts to make customers successful.
Here are three insights that will help you better engage and delight your customers through effective knowledge orchestration.
It was widely reported that organizations possess a wide variety of content and experts capable of quickly creating additional high-quality content to aid customers. However, they face numerous challenges in collecting, standardizing, and making this content available to customers when it is needed.
Many organizations reported they took a structured and intentional approach to create the infrastructure required to identify, manage, develop, and make the content available and valuable.
Use a Knowledge Council
One widely recommended approach was developing a team or “knowledge council” that includes representatives from across the organization. Council members include staff from support, success, product, sales, and marketing. They collaborate to identify what content is available, what is needed, and who can best develop appropriate content. The council also worked to prevent duplication of effort.
Build Governance and Taxonomies
Establishing the proper team structure, roles, responsibilities, and processes is critical. You need to define taxonomies and content templates, to ensure that new content has accurate meta-tagging and is built in a way that facilitates effective management and access. Some organizations reported creating user personas to help people target and build appropriate content based on various user needs.
Assign a Champion
Not surprisingly, many organizations identified the need to have the right person lead the knowledge council. For large organizations with complex products or needs, this could be a dedicated resource. Smaller organizations, and those that are early in their knowledge journey, indicated that this could be an additional role assigned to a staff member in addition to their other responsibilities.
What became clear from the insights shared during the discussion is that developing and implementing an effective knowledge program can be a significant initiative for an organization. These initiatives can add tremendous value to both customers and the organization, but they should not be entered into lightly. It does require changes to many parts of the organization and a willingness to collaborate. If your organization already struggles to manage internal change and collaborate effectively with other departments, you may need help setting up your knowledge infrastructure.
It was widely reported that many staff members truly desired to make customers successful. However, there were frequent communication challenges and misaligned incentives such that staff members were not always acting in a way that supported customers.
For example, one organization reported that while they had built a tremendous library of high-quality and accurate content, the front-line staff often were either not accurately sharing this content or would adjust it for each customer. This was done to ensure the staff were meeting their internal performance targets and metrics. However, the problem was that this often resulted in customers getting inaccurate or inconsistent information, which decreased customer trust and overall satisfaction with the company.
To address these issues, some organizations reported needing to examine individual, team closely, and department goals, metrics, and rewards to ensure they incentivized the desired behaviors. Another suggestion was to assign senior staff members to oversee the content development reviews to ensure accurate and consistent content.
Once you have your knowledge infrastructure in place, you must carefully motivate and manage your team for effective execution. This requires a change in how people perform their jobs and how you measure job performance.
Remember that not everyone will have the expertise, writing, or other content development skills to create high-quality content. Some staff members are better at providing visual or verbal content. Other staff members may naturally be more gifted and inspired by hands-on client engagement activities. You need to carefully think through who should develop your content and who should not. Then, figure out how to adjust workloads and performance measures accordingly.
Measuring the impact and demonstrating the value of your knowledge orchestration efforts is critical. You need to prove the value to both your internal leadership as well as to your customers.
Several people reported that a critical proof point was demonstrating how their knowledge orchestration efforts increase case avoidance. Reducing the number of support cases enables customers to implement or get value from the vendor’s product quickly. It also reduced the headcount demands for support or customer success staff. This also contributed to scalability.
Proving case avoidance is a tricky proposition. One effective method was to analyze the volume of cases opened, by topic, per month. Roundtable participants reported they could demonstrate a reduction in cases per topic as knowledge content for these topics was made available. They also looked at metrics for which content was accessed and how valuable customers rated it. These measures, coupled with qualitative feedback from customers, proved invaluable for demonstrating the value of the knowledge orchestration efforts.
Proving the value of many customer-facing efforts (success, experience, support, etc.) is critical yet challenging. It is helpful to agree to specific goals, targets, and metrics with senior leadership from the very beginning. You should obtain commitments as to the goals and what it will take to achieve them. Also, make sure everyone understands the specific leading and lagging indicators that prove the value of your knowledge orchestration program. These programs take time to build and measure the impact, so you will need to carefully manage expectations and help people “keep the faith” during the early days of your program.
The FLOURISH roundtables continue to be a high-impact knowledge circle for senior leaders. We learn what leaders have found effective, what didn’t work, and what challenges they continue to face. For example, the September FLOURISH Executive Roundtable demonstrated:
Knowledge orchestration is indeed a complex undertaking. However, while it can be complicated and challenging at times, the benefits to the customer and the organization make it a truly worthwhile effort!