Knowledge-Centered Service 101: Understanding the Basics of KCS 

In organizations, knowledge is one of the most important assets. However, without processes in place to share and organize your knowledge, it’s hard to recognize the value that it holds. Benefits, like having an effective and efficient problem-solving process, reduced time to proficiency and improved products and services, are just a few that come with the sharing of knowledge. 

Knowledge-Centered Service® (KCS) is a methodology that provides businesses with a strategy to best solve problems using knowledge. The Consortium for Service Innovation says “KCS is not something we do in addition to solving problems. KCS is the way we solve problems.” 

What is KCS?

KCS is a widely adopted methodology established by the Consortium for Service Innovation. It provides value to organizations and communities by making knowledge abundant and available so that problems can be solved. KCS is often used as part of an IT service management (ITSM) strategy to push people to self-service their IT issues using a knowledge base as part of a service portal.  

There are four KCS principles, the first being abundance. When an issue arises, it is either a known issue or a new issue. When someone presents a known issue, they are connected to the content that will help walk them through a solution. When someone presents a new issue, they are connected to a person who will help them solve the problem. This is why an abundance of knowledge is important- it leads to fewer issues that need to be handled by a person.  

The second principle of KCS is being demand-driven. When content is created for people to use in order to solve a problem, there should be a reason. Creating content for the sake of creating content is a waste of time because there is a chance that the knowledge article someone writes will never be referenced. Don’t write about what you think people want to know, write about what they actually want to know. This ties into another principle, which is creating value. Articles that are used continuously obviously hold more value than an article that is never looked at. Being intentional about the content you create is how you ensure that value is a focus. 

The last principle is trust. With people relying on written information to solve their problems rather than a person, it is incredibly important that they trust what they are reading. If they don’t, they are going to disregard a knowledge base article and go straight to a person to get help. This would completely defeat the purpose of a knowledge base, so it is very important that an organization is responsible for the knowledge that it has in order to gain trust.  

Creating Content

When creating content, it is important to get right to the point. These articles are meant to be a reference text, not a novel– writing in bullet points is acceptable. Your goal is to be “good enough” rather than completely perfect and thorough. In reality, 80% of the information that is documented is not used, so it would be a waste of time to create in-depth pieces of text that will never be looked at. You can also use related articles to help you write, you don’t have to make it hard on yourself. If part of the information you need to include in your new content is already out there, do a quick copy and paste of the parts that are relevant. The goal is to make each article as relevant and useful as possible.  

6 Steps to Getting Started

Implementing Knowledge-Centered Service can involve a lot of moving parts. The following are six steps to help you get started: 

  1. Identify a core team: Having a small core team to help you through the implementation process, as well as the upkeep once KCS takes off in your organization, is essential. When creating the team, look for volunteers, people from customer service areas and those with attention to detail and a passion for change.
  2. Training: The Consortium for Service Innovation offers a KCS Academy, a KCS Practices Guide, and a KCS Adoption Guide. Additionally, TeamDynamix offers process consulting that you can take advantage of as well.
  3. Pilot with your core team: Once your team has been identified, you should establish a KCS style guide, solidify processes, roles and permissions, practice maintenance and coach each other. All of this will allow you to avoid confusion and inefficiencies in the future.
  4. Train your customer service: If you are able, getting trained externally is ideal. Your KCS team has the opportunity to make a real impact on your organization, so it is important that they have proper training. Also, this training will give your team adequate time to grow before branching out to the rest of the organization.
  5. Branch out: At this point, you can find more volunteers who are ready to implement KCS. If there are no volunteers, start with smaller areas of your business and get those teams on board. Share all the benefits that your pilot team gained from KCS with these new people. Be sure to make it worth their time and make KCS part of their core workflow.
  6. Spread success: Be sure to document internal knowledge, incorporate KCS when working with outside areas, share articles internally and externally, and broadcast your metrics. Share information like article usage and increased first contact resolution- any metric that will encourage growth.

KCS Knowledge Worker Roles

A knowledge team is a team of knowledge workers who collaborate, establish and maintain content standards and knowledge/incident processes. Within this team there are various roles: 

  • Candidate- creates and edits articles but does not publish 
  • Contributor- creates, edits, and publishes internally 
  • Publisher- creates, edits, and publishes internally/externally 
  • Coaches- Assigned to knowledge workers and review performance and quality 
  • Knowledge Domain Expert (KDE)- oversees knowledge area 

KCS in Action – How One Organization is Using KCS to Improve Service Delivery

Since adopting KCS through TeamDynamix, the University of South Dakota has seen great success. 

The schools began looking for a new ITSM solution after realizing how much information was spread out among different locations. Paula Cottrell, Knowledge Manager for the University, explains their previous situation, saying “We had a Wiki page. We had information siloed within team-specific SharePoints. We had old ticket notes, and we had employees with their own knowledge saved on their computers.” 

This unorganized system decreased productivity and efficiency and led to teams wasting time searching for different information and answers. After implementing the KCS methodology with TeamDynamix ITSM and building out their knowledge base, they saw an 18-percent reduction in time logged to service tickets. Fast forward to just one month after adopting KCS, the University had more than 2,000 people taking advantage of the knowledge base and 31,000 page views. Six months later, there were 31,000 users and 262,000 page views, with 5,000 knowledge articles being included in the base. 

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

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