Thursday, 20 June 2019

The new role of the expert in Knowledge Management

I blogged a while back about the role of the expert in KM. Here is a new article that explains this role in the customer service world.

In my post "what do you do with your best experts" I argued that in the KM world, it makes no sense to put the experts full time on the toughest projects. KM needs to offer them a new role (which should be seen as an opportunity rather than a threat) - to be the stewards and sharers of knowledge, rather than the sole holders.

This is just as true in the customer service setting as it is in manufacturing, projects, or professional service. A recent article from Customer Think, entitled "Why your most talented customer service agents should come off the front lines" explores this further. I quote -

"Every contact center has a handful of star performers. You know the ones I’m talking about. They take more calls than anyone else. They respond to emails more quickly and concisely. They handle three chats simultaneously without skipping a beat... It might seem like a shocking suggestion, then, to propose taking these agents away from direct customer contact work and focus them elsewhere. Yet this might be the most valuable thing you can do to increase customer and employee satisfaction".
The author, Paul Selby, makes the following suggestions for the new role for star performers:

  • Train other agents. Develop training, or incorporate the star performers' knowledge best practices into existing training that can benefit the rest of the staff. 
  • Write knowledge base articles. Getting stellar agents involved in the development of the knowledge base is one of the best ways to not only disseminate knowledge better among the staff and to strengthen customer self-service options, but also to ensure that knowledge is retained.
  • Build chatbot conversations.  Chatbots care only helpful to customers and beneficial to customer service when they actually solve problems. Star performers know the questions to ask, and how to diagnose problems and get to an answer. 
  • Develop automation. Constructing new workflows and maintaining existing ones is a great opportunity for star agents to build a new skill as well as develop new relationships in other departments as they work with them on the underlying process flow.

In other words, the star performers are more valuable when their knowledge is not kept in their own heads, but is spread to others via training, coaching, and the development of knowledge bases (either passive or automated).

In more generic terms, we can see the new expert role as having three components:
  • Acting as a source of expert opinion for others, and for the identification and development of technical practices and procedures; 
  • Maintaining knowledge bases, guidelines and best practices, and validating lessons; 
  • Building capability within the community of practice.

In the new KM world, the role of the expert is not only to Know, but to ensure others Know.

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