This post is the second in an enterprise collaboration series, in which we explore how knowledge workers, IT departments and business leaders can boost productivity, increase efficiency and transform their organizations with the power of collective wisdom.

Last week, we began our series with an exploration of how collaborative support methodologies are replacing tiered structures in enterprise IT—in particular, we looked at how support organizations can efficiently tackle complex, new issues with intelligent swarming, an approach that relies on the collective expertise of a “swarm” of support technicians.

This week we focus on Knowledge-Centered Support (KCS)—a set of practices for capturing and maintaining knowledge in a support environment—which organizations can use to resolve “known” issues faster and with fewer escalations, thus increasing support desk efficiency and elevating end-user satisfaction.

KCS isn’t a new concept. Its development was started more than 20 years ago by the Consortium for Service Innovation, a nonprofit alliance of organizations focused on innovation for the support industry.

In recent years, however, because of IT’s increasing focus on the customer, KCS has been gaining attention. Widely known companies like and HP have instituted KCS, and it figured prominently into the agenda at this year’s Help Desk Institute (HDI) conference.

The Consortium outlines the four basic concepts of KCS as:

  1. Integrate the creation and maintenance of knowledge into the problem-solving process
  2. Evolve content based on demand and usage
  3. Develop a knowledgebase of collective experience to date
  4. Reward learning, collaboration, sharing and improving

In practice, it can work like this: When a customer calls the help desk with an issue, a support tech can search the knowledgebase to quickly find a resolution if the question or issue has already been solved. This reduces the number of escalations and the amount of time it takes to solve “known” issues, i.e., those that have already been resolved and documented in the knowledgebase.

(In contrast, intelligent swarming is best used to resolve “new” issues—those that require troubleshooting and research. Read more about this methodology in our previous post “A swarming trend.”)

By regularly adding new content and updating existing articles as needed, support techs help each other, and help to keep the knowledgebase robust and relevant. This content is also made available to end-users in searchable, easy-to-use self-service support portals.

By regularly adding new content and updating existing articles as needed, support techs help each other, and help to keep the knowledgebase robust and relevant.

KCS can reduce incident resolution and training time, and improve customer and employee satisfaction. It also can enable companies to reduce costs and increase service levels.

Instituting KCS involves organizational transformation—in order to realize the methodology’s benefits, companies will need to put forth considerable effort and commitment. According to the Consortium, organizations need to regard knowledge “as an asset owned and maintained by the team, not by an individual or a small group of dedicated content creators.”

Consideration of the end-user is equally important. In its Top Trends for Customer Service in 2015 report, Forrester Research noted that in a survey conducted in 2014, its researchers found that “web self-service was the most widely used communication channel for customer service.” For 2015, Forrester predicts that customers will “continue to demand effortless interactions over web and mobile self-service channels.”

Organizations don’t need to look far for the knowledge they need to create useful self-service systems. They already have it.

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