customer science interview

The Science of Knowledge Management

You’d never guess that Todd Gorsuch is a micromolecular biologist by trade. However, there are small (pardon the pun) signs. It’s in the way he notices the details about a Knowledge Management System, and understands how every part should be synthesised, modified, and interconnected to benefit its users.

What Todd brings to customer service is a scientific eye, a way of perceiving elements that enhance or detract from the user experience and organisation goals. This perspective comes from years of implementing technology deployments for customer service organisations and noticing that service can be very expensive and doesn’t always deliver the quality it should.

Now, he focuses on creating the best conditions for maximum growth and health through a combination of intelligent technology and best practice—which might just explain why Customer Science has won a number of regional, national, and global awards of recent years.

The five-person rule

“You may not expect me to say this, but if you employ less than five customer service agents, don’t invest in a KMS,” says Todd.

Knowledge Management is always high on the list of review items when he is invited to consult with organisations. However, he draws the line at small organisations.

“Once you have five people handling enquiries—and definitely once you have ten—you should consider more effective ways of sharing Knowledge. That’s when it pays for itself. The only exception to my five-person rule is if your service involves risk management such as emergency service that needs to repeat Knowledge word for word to mitigate risk. Then, a Service Specialist built KMS is a must.”

Blu Tack and paper files

Todd says that he can always tell which organisations need better Knowledge Management by the blu-tacked papers on the office wall or the thick manuals sitting on someone’s desk.

“Most organisations use multiple systems to handle Knowledge and I would say that at least 50% have a real need for Knowledge Management overhaul while about 80% have what I would call a Knowledge Management ‘opportunity’.”

One of his clients recently won a Customer Service Institute of Australia Service Award. Their implementation of a Knowledge Management solution transformed their organisation. Their ability to share knowledge accurately with their customers also drove up resolution rates and employee engagement.

need knowledge management

Seven crucial elements of Knowledge Management

According to Todd, intelligent CX Knowledge Management is about facilitating the lowest timeframe and least painful approach to getting something done the right way. It involves seven crucial elements:

  1. Confidence in a reliable search function. This is just as vital for employees as it is for customers, because they want to feel competent, know that they’re providing the correct answer, and that the customer is getting the answers they need.
  2. Ensures compliance. Where Knowledge Management can go terribly wrong is if there are multiple ‘truths’ across every channel. A single source of truth across multiple channels—website, phone call, chat bot or person—is vital. Workflow management incorporated into KMS passes new Knowledge through critical touch points, increasing accuracy and achieving compliance.
  3. Process guidance is about providing correct, easy-to-follow steps on digital platforms or in person that are flexible enough for users to enter at their individual level of expertise and knowledge. This includes decision trees and digital tools (in some cases, robotic process automation) that assist users in executing Knowledge without taking up too much time or needing to involve anyone else or refer the issue onwards.
  4. A training program for staff to increase speed to competency. Quality Knowledge served up in an easy to access and absorb format, on the same platform staff use when interacting with customers, a more efficient training model and has proven to be better than the old PowerPoint slide model. Tools built into intelligent KMS also verify the skills of each staff member before they ever take a call so that you know the first customer will get the right answer. This reduces unnecessary and time-consuming training, avoids the risk of inaccurate training when materials have aged after knowledge articles are updated, to improve return on investment (ROI).
  5. Multichannel capability. Good Knowledge Management makes actionable information accessible to customers on their preferred platform, delivering it quickly, accurately, at a time that suits them, and in a format that is easily absorbed. Often, the first step that people take is to go to the website for an easy step-by-step process. If they cannot resolve their problem on the website, they will next phone to talk to a real person. This means that your staff must have the ability to provide greater value via a phone call if necessary. A good knowledge database allows you to not only work consistently across channels, but also provides depth for certain channels, enabling you to provide better answers if necessary.
  6. Feedback and analytics tools for continuous improvement. A feedback function in intelligent KMS enables frontline staff to evaluate every point of interaction with a customer and make suggestions for fine-tuning Knowledge and processes. Analytics tools add a second layer of insight with data about the volume and use of Knowledge, which can be used to build an accurate picture of staff competency and what drives workload. Return on investment (ROI) models built around this information assists in defining a problem rapidly and finding relevant solutions.
  7. Cloud-based systems for accessibility. Whether the Knowledge manager is onsite or offsite, in-house or outsourced, Knowledge Management is always available when is it cloud-based.

If good customer service is the application of science to meet human needs, this is what Todd Gorsuch does very well. “My job,” he says, “is about making every Australian’s life a bit better by helping organisations bring their customer and digital experience to life.”

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