Craig Wilkey – InFocus Blog | Dell EMC Services DELL EMC Global Services Blog Mon, 25 Mar 2019 14:17:08 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Enabling Intelligent Routing and Support Swarming (and then some): Follow the Problem Wed, 12 Jul 2017 09:00:48 +0000 Support Swarming is not new. I was, literally, doing it at the turn of the century. (I’ve always wanted to say that! After all, I did start working in IT way back in the 1900’s…) That said, it has changed significantly since then. One of the most impactful changes was ushered in by advances in […]

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Support Swarming is not new. I was, literally, doing it at the turn of the century. (I’ve always wanted to say that! After all, I did start working in IT way back in the 1900’s…) That said, it has changed significantly since then. One of the most impactful changes was ushered in by advances in linguistic analysis and machine learning capabilities; enter Intelligent Routing. Some call it smart routing, smart ticket routing, automated incident assignment… the list goes on. At Dell EMC, we refer to it internally as “Intelligent Matching and Swarming” (IMS). We decided that “Intelligent Matching” was a more suitable name, because the intention was to go beyond simply automatic routing of Service Requests (incidents) to the right engineer – it was about matching people to challenges, matching knowledge to work, matching engineers to other engineers to form a Support Swarm, and more… Our vision was to radically transform our entire customer service experience – with IMS at its core.

This customer service experience transformation program was built with the understanding that Knowledge Management was central to a successful and positive customer experience. In fact, the Knowledge Management team was responsible for defining the overall vision and strategy for the entire program. Our executive leadership team understood the immense transformational power of Knowledge Management, and I wanted to be a part of a team that really got that. When I saw there was an open role in this team, I dove for it.

At the time, I had a fantastic job as the owner of the IT Knowledge Management process, and was just on the cusp of realizing the culmination of a year’s worth of intense planning and hard work. I had what I thought was my dream job – the role I planned my entire career around for the better part of a decade. It was excruciating to leave that position and transfer to our Services organization, but I knew I couldn’t let this opportunity pass me by. This new job was to design our Dynamic Profiling framework, and lead the effort to design how our Intelligent Matching would work. How cool is THAT?!? (Yes, I know I’m a total nerd. I’m OK with that.)

In a recent blog post (The Evolution of Knowledge Management: From Document Capture to Digital Experience Management) I covered the philosophical ideal behind our Intelligent Matching program. In this one, I want to pull back the covers a bit, and talk about how it works.

I’m also going to take a look at a few of the extraordinary peripheral benefits of the approach we took.

The Building Blocks

Our IMS implementation was built upon the foundation of a Dynamic Profiling framework. We based our Dynamic Profiling Framework on high-level, general guidance around a potential profiling approach provided by CSI (Consortium for Service Innovation – the publisher of KCS). My primary responsibility for my first year with the team was to take that general guidance and make something real from it.

CSI suggested five profile types:

profile types

The basic idea was that analyzing this robust profiling framework would allow us to understand the work coming in, factor in the customers and their environments, and use that insight to find the “Best Available Resource” (BAR) to manage the incoming work demand. Long-term, our goal was to use this extended context to drive further automation into knowledge delivery, customer risk analysis, predictive service analytics, auto-pushing patches, and so on.

The first four profile types turned out to be fairly straight-forward. I won’t bore you, spending too much time dwelling on them. The intention was to evolve them to be more dynamic in nature, particularly around the People Profiles. Individual skills, experience, consumption preferences, work environments… these should all automatically influence their profiles.

With Solution Profiles, the idea was to understand the solutions from the perspective of our customers’ view of their service offerings. We didn’t want to see a deployed solution in a vacuum, we wanted to know that it was part of our customer’s online banking system – and we wanted to understand what SLA’s, downstream impacts, and other potential risks they could face. Ideally, we would also know what other infrastructure components (including ones we didn’t sell or service) were a part of this service offering.

Knowledge Profiling, as I interpreted it, would simply be an index of knowledge assets from across (and some from outside) the enterprise. The better we were at using linguistic analysis to ingest and dynamically index knowledge, the better we could integrate that into our customer service experience processes. Perhaps there’s value in exploring that in a future blog post, but not today. I had enough difficulty fitting all this into a (relatively) consumable size.

What I really want to open up for you is how the fully dynamic Work Profiles make IMS a reality…

Problems Cause Incidents

To build Work Profiles, we started by clustering incidents… Work Profiles, as I saw it, should allow us to understand the type of work coming in, how to best resolve it, and how to set customer expectations. What better way to do that than look at the outcomes of what had been done before? Group all the incidents that are as similar in nature as possible, then look at averages, trends and performance factors within and across each cluster.

The Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL) certainly has its blind spots and shortcomings, but it does also contain some real value. In this case, it’s ITIL’s distinction between “Incidents” and “Problems” we must start with to solve this particular… er… problem.

In ITIL terms, an incident is a customer-impacting (or potentially customer-impacting) event. A problem, much like a math problem, is something that needs a solution. A problem is often the underlying cause of an incident.  For example: If a customer can’t print a file, that’s an incident. The problem that caused that incident (the root cause) may be a bug in the printer driver software. That one problem can cause a multitude of customer-impacting incidents.  This distinction is critical when building Work Profiles.

The ideal when attempting to cluster incidents, is to group them into singular problem statements. Extract as much information as you can from past incident records and combine it with as much context as you can from the rest of the profiling framework (and whatever other information you can).

You know the size of the customer, the scale of the implementation, and hopefully other vendors’ products that are part of the infrastructure of this particular service offering. You know what recent failures they’ve had, what codebase they’re currently on, and hopefully any generated error messages. The more context you can nail down and correlate against, the more confidence you can have in the similarity of the distinct incidents within each cluster.

I also want to suggest here that you may want to consider expanding what defines an incident record in your organization. Step outside the box of your CRM/ITSM ticketing system. If a customer posts a question to your support forum, that’s an incident. If someone searches your knowledge base for a solution to the problem they’re experiencing, that’s an incident. If someone Tweets a question at your support handle… You get the picture. Every indication that a customer is being impacted is the record of an incident – and most of them will point to one problem or another.

When it comes to incidents, most of the most valuable information is in unstructured free-text fields. Linguistic analysis is a crucial capability for extracting a meaningful level of information from these sources. (This is where I pull out my favorite soapbox: Natural Language Processing.)

Explaining exactly how to suss out the problems that bind your incidents together is beyond the scope of this blog post – plus, the details will vary widely from one organization to the next. I will say, however, that Text Mining/Analytics will simply not suffice. Analyzing information in such a broad range of formats requires the full depth and breadth of linguistic analysis capabilities provided by Natural Language Processing.

NLP Platform

Have a talented Data Scientist build the models, and have experienced domain subject matter experts train, validate and refine the models.

Once you’ve clustered past incidents into common problem statements, simply summarize them as Work Profiles. When a new incident comes in, run it through your linguistics analysis engine to see which Work Profile it best fits into. From this Work Profile, you can glean how much of an impact it may be, how long it should take to resolve, what knowledge articles should be helpful to troubleshoot and resolve it, and a host of other critical insights. Perhaps the most important bit of insight you now have is the performance of the engineers who have worked these incidents in the past.

Obviously, to automatically route work to a BAR (or Swarm) based on analysis of historical information, you need to have historical information available to analyze. This is the case with the vast majority of our incoming SR’s, and this is what I’m focusing on for this blog post.

In those minority situations with limited historical information (such as a new employee or new solution) and other one-off situations (such as cross-training opt-in opportunities) we fall back on tried-and-true skills-based routing and other more static techniques to match engineers to opportunities. Our Dynamic Profiling framework vastly improved our capabilities here, but I don’t see much value in my rehashing decades of development on improving these methods.


Now you can see everything you need to know to properly assign the incident, what has been done in the past to resolve similar incidents, and what kind of impact your customer can expect. But it goes much deeper than that. The Dynamic Profiling framework allows us to push well beyond our previous Customer Experience insight depth horizon.

For example, Work Profile analysis shows us that John and Cindy are both high performers across most of the disciplines in their domain, but when they’re on a Swarm together, team performance suffers. Either the apparent conflict should be addressed, or maybe they just shouldn’t be on a Swarm together.

Karthik is a valuable networking subject matter expert, but his performance reveals that he’s less effective when it comes to devices from a specific vendor. It’s time to send him to training, and maybe he should opt-in to join Swarms, as an observer, for new incidents involving this vendor.

Maybe the Work Profiles will reveal an apparent personality clash between one of our engineers and the weekend night shift at a major customer’s Command Center. We should make sure those incidents get routed to an engineer with a better track record of working with that customer.

An extraordinarily valuable benefit in such an approach is that it allows us to reveal patterns and dynamics that we wouldn’t otherwise even be able to measure if we had thought of it. The more context you introduce, the deeper the insight.

Who knew that Tyrone’s performance drops precipitously every time the Red Sox lose? (Good luck resolving THAT one!)

But Wait… There’s More!

People in Customer Service often speak of “Moments of Truth” in customer relationships. Jan Carlzon popularized the term in the mid-eighties, when he was the President and CEO of Scandinavian Airlines. (Contrary to popular belief, apparently the term was coined by Jan’s consultant, Richard Norman, in 1981. Something I learned while writing this blog post. Thanks, Jeff!) Broadly speaking, a Moment of Truth is an instance that can change a customer relationship (for better or worse). Every interaction with a customer is a potential Moment of Truth (or interaction with a potential customer – or even a potential potential customer, if you choose to include the “Less than Zero Moment of Truth” as defined by eventricity Ltd).

Frankly, I don’t like to get into the machinations of categorizing “Moments of Truth” into the proposed five recognized types. The simple reality is: EVERY interaction someone has with your brand, regardless whether or not you’re present for it – or even aware of it – is a potential “Moment of Truth.” The implication of this is that Customer Experience Management relies heavily on uncovering and understanding those interactions – otherwise, how could you hope to manage them?

Picture it: Sicily, 1913. The days were hot and the long nights were filled with dance halls, Sambuca and lonely sailors. Marco was off on a six-month– Oh wait… That’s the story for my other blog…

Picture it: You’re a Service Owner, singularly focused on improving your service offering to your customers. You log onto your service health & wellness dashboard and see your current top 10 problems – each displayed, along with your customers’ “Moments of Truth,” on their own timeline.

On each problem timeline, you can see:

  • Every CRM incident record that problem caused – and the severity of those incidents
  • Every knowledge article associated with that problem
    • When they were created
    • Each time they were edited
    • What the internal and external consumption patterns look like
    • What channels they were consumed through
    • Promotions or push campaigns for each knowledge article
    • Ratings, AQI (or whatever content quality measures you use)
  • Related posts on your customer support forum
  • Related social media engagements with your customers
  • Fix/Patch releases
  • (Use your imagination…)

This information, once it’s categorized by problems, provides a staggering wealth of insight and opportunity.

At a glance, you can see:

  • How to best manage your resources to have the greatest positive customer impact with the least effort
  • Where there is a lack of knowledge articles – or lack of customer-facing articles,
    • or at least articles anyone can find
  • The influence individual knowledge articles have had on mitigating the impacts of the incidents
    • including how much that influence may have shifted, following article updates
    • which can be used for metrics on customer value created by knowledge authors

(Just think about never having to be asked to qualify and quantify deflection again!!)

  • Valuable serviceability information, and how consumption of knowledge impacts that
    • which can be used for metrics on customer value created by knowledge authors
  • Effectiveness of support delivery channels
    • Can users not find the articles when they search on your online portal?
  • Your customers’ entire journeys, experiences, and frustrations

I haven’t even gotten into what a shot of adrenalin this would be to struggling Proactive Problem Management, Predictive Service Analytics, and KCS Evolve Loop programs!

Clustering incidents by their underlying problems opens extraordinary possibilities for better visibility into the Customer Experience and more effective resource management – allowing us to craft a far more Effortless Experience for our customers.

Knowledge Management is not just central to Customer Experience Management – Knowledge Management is Customer Experience Management. The best way to manage either is to measure them both together. The best way to do that is to Follow the Problem.

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Three Simple Steps to World Class Customer Service Mon, 15 May 2017 09:00:14 +0000 Someone once told me that most people who have a good customer experience won’t bother to tell anyone about it. They expect good service – what’s there to talk about? The only customers who talk about it are the ones whose experience was outside their expectations. If they get exceptionally good service, they’ll tell people. […]

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Someone once told me that most people who have a good customer experience won’t bother to tell anyone about it. They expect good service – what’s there to talk about? The only customers who talk about it are the ones whose experience was outside their expectations. If they get exceptionally good service, they’ll tell people. If they get exceptionally bad service, they’ll tell even more people.

The significance of this statement increases dramatically with the size of your customer’s investment in your partnership, and how substantially your service failures impact your customer. If your organization provides business critical infrastructure and services, or otherwise thrives on building service partnerships with high net worth clients: The below advice is mostly intended for you.

To provide exceptionally good customer service, you really just need to hire people who can deliver it, and enable them to do so. It sounds pretty simple, right? That’s because it is – provided your organization is not mired in the decades-old, caustic nickel and dime mentality of Customer Service. If you’re willing to invest in creating a compelling customer experience to foster trust and loyalty, please consider the below three steps.

1. Make the Service Desk a Career Destination

Throughout any customer interaction, we encounter a number of opportunities to influence the outcome of the experience. These “Moments of Truth” are the points in time that make or break any service experience, therefore any customer relationship, therefore any service organization. Moments of Truth in a service organization lie overwhelmingly within the hands of Customer Service Representatives on the frontline – and more often than not, they occur when the customer is already in a difficult, vulnerable position. For better or worse, your frontline support staff is the face of the organization in your customers’ eyes. Your brand reputation rests squarely upon their shoulders. There are few roles that have such a substantial impact on customer satisfaction, retention and relationship management. Thus, they are uniquely positioned to be your customers’ ultimate advocate.

However, far too often, and for far too long, organizations have narrowly focused on remediating service failures as quickly and cheaply as possible. They stock their Service Desks with overworked and underpaid entry-level personnel (or far worse, outsource it to cheap clearing houses).

Let that sink in for a moment… The people hired to be the face of your organization, at the most critical moments that define your customer relationships, have roughly the same professional profile as the person working at your local coffee shop. Also, they likely hate their jobs and/or are just using it as a temporary stepping stone into Tech Support (a little older, but still quite pertinent information from HDI: Agent Satisfaction and Annual Agent Turnover).

Staff your Service Desk with the appropriate talent, and pay them accordingly. If you want to cut costs, don’t do it by skimping on the quality of your customer care – do it through investment in improving your self-service offerings. I’ll talk a bit more about that later.

The appropriate Customer Service skills and talents are strikingly similar to the qualities you look for in your Account Management, Customer Success and Sales staff…

  • Personable
  • Places a high degree of importance on honesty and integrity
  • Highly focused and detail-oriented
  • Empathetic
  • Intelligent
  • Exceptional communication skills
  • Charismatic
  • Some level of secondary education or training in Psychology
    • Yes, really!
  • Calm under pressure
  • Confident and assertive, without being arrogant or aggressive

What is the role of the front line staff in your customer support organization?

To quickly shuffle your customers out the door in the most expedient, efficient way possible? Or to embody the empowering, capable, engaged relationship you’re trying to build with your customers? When your customer calls you in a time of need, they’re looking for that invested partnership your sales staff sold them. Your first line of support is often your customers’ ICU staff, and if you treat it as an entry level position, your bedside manner sucks.

The goals of your Customer Advocates need to clearly align with the goals of whatever Customer Success structure you have in place. The two teams need a solid relationship, based on trust and supported by clear, open lines of communication. The Service Desk should be held directly accountable to your Customer Success Manager’s vision and goals – not your Tech Support Manager’s goals. This brings us to step #2…

2. Divorce the Service Desk from Technical Support

The career path leading upward and outward from your Service Desk should be into that same Customer Success organization. Once again, consider the major role they play in customer loyalty. They should be working to maintain the relationships your Sales teams work so hard to build. They are an extension of Customer Success in a much more powerful, palpable and present way than Account Management could ever hope to be. Rather than trying to hedge that with pushing for a higher-touch relationship with Account Management, embrace the opportunity!

By the way, stop, Stop, STOP, PLEASE STOP using Transactional CSAT scores to measure the performance of your Customer Advocates! Using CSAT surveys and the like to gauge the quality of a service engagement starts with the flawed transactional perspective, which will ultimately lead to failure. The strength and value of a strategic relationship cannot be measured by transactions. Even if it could, what behavior are you trying to incent? Your Customer Advocates should have a much broader, longer-term perspective of building trust and ensuring the value of your relationships. That’s simply impossible if they’re playing to these arbitrary numbers. Furthermore, it sends a painfully clear message that you lack faith in their judgment.

All transaction-based service interaction metrics – CSAT not being the least of which – belie the entire premise of what a successful Customer Advocate needs to be. This approach reinforces the notion of the Service Desk being an entry-level organization, filled with transient employees (or a dead-end job) and undermines any effort to transform the Service Desk into potential career destination. Of course it also undermines the efforts of your Customer Success Manager.

The Corporate Executive Board (Recently acquired by Gartner) studied over 97,000 customers and concluded that customer effort had a profoundly greater impact than CSAT on customer loyalty, retention and share of wallet. This study and findings are summarized in the book “The Effortless Experience.” I highly recommend it. (I haven’t checked out their YouTube channel yet, but I plan to.)

The Better Alternative:

Hire talented, responsible Customer Advocates who have the experience and skills that give them insight into the health and wellness of your customer relationships – and empower them to thrive.

All that said… there is real value to be found in CSAT scores. First, I must acknowledge the challenge of faithfully measuring customer effort. Dell EMC Services has started down that path, and we continue to evolve how we measure it, as we get closer and closer to the goal of accurate representation of customer effort.

CSAT scores still provide valuable insight into customer experiences, and perhaps will continue to for a long time. The question is what you use them for. Rather than management using them to measure Customer Advocate performance, Customer Advocates should use them to better manage customer relationships.

Align your Customer Advocates with customer accounts – not product lines or technical prowess. When a customer calls, they should reach someone they have a relationship with… someone they have faith in… someone they will value as a trusted advisor who will work to wrangle the skilled resources required to satisfy their needs. Customer Advocates don’t need technical skills – they just need to know where to find them. Your customer should have confidence that this person doesn’t just have access to their documented infrastructure and contracts, but knows their business and the pressures they’re under. Your Customer Advocate should know who your customer’s customers are, and have a deep understanding of how a given service outage may be impacting them.

Shift to the perspective that they are relationship managers, above all else. Your Customer Advocate should be reaching out every once in a while, just to check on things – and maybe talk about how “that box is nearing capacity, is aging out of support soon and could easily be replaced by the new model under the same terms…” and offering to set up a chat with their Account Manager.

Aligning your Service Desk with your Customer Success/Account Management/Sales organization also converts it into a profit center. Now that you have established that clear line of accountability and have replaced transactional measures with goals designed to foster strong, faithful customer relationships, you can afford to empower them.

3. Invest in Knowledge Management for Digital Experience Management

Imagine you have a customer with an aging infrastructure that has been growing increasingly prone to failure, and their contract is nearing expiration. Their internal operations team consistently returns surveys with reasonably high Transactional-CSAT scores, but when their Business Service Owner reaches out to your Account Management team, it’s often with concerns over failure response times. These emails tend to arrive several weeks after the failures have occurred. The complaints started shortly after a leadership shake-up in the customer’s organization. They’re in the middle of a full infrastructure assessment, and expect to make some critical decisions on a data center tech refresh within the next six months. You have an influential internal champion in their IT Infrastructure team who is very well-versed in their legacy environment, but lacks deep understanding of your latest product and service lines.

Every person who directly (and indirectly) services this customer should be keenly aware of the situation. It’s Knowledge Management’s job to foster that situational awareness. Such a level of account health and wellness awareness requires performance data, historical serviceability information, market analysis, competitive landscaping, insight from numerous people in different departments, and on and on…

Invest in the platforms and tools to pull all that information together in a meaningful, consumable format. Then invest in integrating that insight into existing operating environments, processes and tools in unobtrusive ways. As I recently said to Bill Schmarzo on his blog post ‘Organizational Analytics Adoption: A Generation Away?’:

“My view is that Knowledge should be ubiquitous and transparent. For that, it needs to be readily and intuitively available in all tools, where and when it’s needed – rather than be presented in a purpose-built tool. I see it a bit like Augmented Reality for business tools.”

That level of insight integration does require resources to execute correctly, but that investment will pay off in spades.

Every team in your organization has a different perspective on your customers, your relationships with them, and their environments. Building a comprehensive Knowledge Management practice the right way allows those perspectives to be gathered, combined and shared across those teams. Everyone – most of all, your customers – will benefit from having that more fully-rounded view available to them.

Build comprehensive customer profiles that include knowledge from across the full spectrum of the service lifecycle. Use a leading “Insight Engine” with powerful Natural Language Processing capabilities to ingest and index crucial information from your past service interactions. Apply innovative Data Science to extract otherwise hidden trends and perspectives…

By the way, your customers don’t want to call you, anyway. Not unless they have to…

This is where you can cut costs, while simultaneously giving your customers the experience they crave, through the channels they prefer. Much of the insight integration backbone you build to empower your employees can also be leveraged to introduce dramatic improvements in the self-service capabilities your customers want. The rich profile information and visibility into historical serviceability information will empower Digital Experience Management to provide highly personalized, truly valuable, and more effortless customer experiences – while driving operational costs down and operational efficiency up.

Making self-service painless and effective also frees up precious time and effort for your Customer Advocates, so they can focus on the customers, when they do feel the need to call.

Wrapping it all up…

Achieving short-sighted cost-cutting “gains” by offering your customers assembly-line service delivered by entry-level staff, will benefit nobody but your competitors. Investment into building mutually-beneficial partnerships with your customers, through trusted Customer Advocates, will drive loyalty and growth – and save money in the long run.

As a customer, which would you prefer?

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The Evolution of Knowledge Management: From Document Capture to Digital Experience Management Wed, 19 Apr 2017 09:00:00 +0000 I LOVE Knowledge Management! (I bet you don’t hear that often.) Like most who came to Knowledge Management through IT Service Management, I’ve spent much of my career trying to improve how organizations capture, process and deliver information. Done well, Knowledge Management empowers employees to better assist customers, and customers to better help themselves. It’s […]

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I LOVE Knowledge Management! (I bet you don’t hear that often.) Like most who came to Knowledge Management through IT Service Management, I’ve spent much of my career trying to improve how organizations capture, process and deliver information. Done well, Knowledge Management empowers employees to better assist customers, and customers to better help themselves. It’s difficult to overstate the transformative power Knowledge Management can have over Customer Experience, User Experience and operational efficiency. (What can I say? That’s the kind of stuff that turns my wrenches.)

Over the past two years with Dell EMC Services, I’ve been working to push the perspective of Knowledge Management further and further backward. Yes, backward. We still work to improve knowledge capture and delivery, but that’s only one part of a comprehensive Knowledge Management practice. It’s also only half the story of the customer journey. What I’m hoping to share here is how we’re using Knowledge Management to improve Customer Service even before the knowledge exists.

What is Knowledge? (Don’t get me started…)

Is there a place you know how to get to so well that you could probably do it in your sleep – yet you’d struggle to provide someone with directions?

Think for a moment about what you might say if I asked you to describe a pencil to me… Would you talk about the various forms and styles they come in? Would you focus more on the function of a pencil? The things we use them for… The things we create with them… Maybe you’d compare and contrast pencils and pens. As a highly-experienced pencil user, you could probably tell me a lot about pencils.

Would you think to tell me about this use case?

How about a butter knife?

If you were to describe the uses of a butter knife, would you mention this screw?

You might next time.

There have been decades upon decades of debate and fierce arguments over how to classify different types of knowledge: what to name them, how people use them, how they’re acquired, and on and on…

Transient Knowledge… Nascent Knowledge… Explicit Knowledge… PrescientKnowledge… Intrinsic Knowledge… Tacit Knowledge… Tacit Knowing…

I am NOT opening that can of worms right now.

Regardless what you want to call it, I’m talking about the things you know, but you don’t know you know them, until you HAVE to know them.

I’m talking about the type of knowledge that’s usually only revealed when a situation calls for action to be taken. Like the butter knife.

Is Creating Knowledge Enough?

If you ask people in your Customer Advocacy or Engineering organization to create knowledge articles, you’ll likely get some pretty good information, but you will inevitably fail to capture all of the relevant knowledge and insight on whatever the topic is. To augment this explicitly-created content, you can capture knowledge directly from the customer engagement artifacts in your CRM software. KCS (Knowledge Centered Service) provides information management guidance for what it refers to as capturing knowledge “in the workflow” to create knowledge articles from the content of Incidents (Service Requests). Dell EMC is a sponsoring member of CSI (Consortium for Service Innovation – the publisher of KCS) and we practice the document capture guidance in KCS. We’re also always looking for ways to push beyond the horizon of the depth of insight that can be gleaned, by combining as much context as we can with that captured content.

This is what I like to call “Knowledge & Experience Indexing” – I think it’s catchy, anyway.

The goal of Knowledge & Experience Indexing is to capture:

  • Details about how and when these situations occur
  • Information about the actions that were taken
  • As much insight as we can into the results of those actions

The better we can capture this elusive knowledge and context, the better we can help others navigate similar situations in the future.

As an added bonus, if we capture enough detail about how and when these situations occur, we can start programmatically recognizing their patterns and automatically deliver relevant knowledge – before the person even knows to ask for it!

Knowledge: The Intersection of Wisdom and Action

Let’s consider how knowledge is created…

There had to be a first time someone used a butter knife as a screwdriver. Some person, somewhere, found a loose screw in their kitchen, didn’t have a screwdriver handy, and said, “Hey… Wait a minute…” Until that happened: that knowledge simply did not exist yet.

That first person had some understanding of how screwdrivers work. They were also aware of the general shape and properties of a butter knife. They took the knowledge they did have, considered it against their past experiences, and applied their wisdom to navigate a brand new situation. Our brave trailblazer, in their kitchen with no screwdriver, actually created new knowledge by using their wisdom to take action. Through Knowledge & Experience Indexing, we strive to capture this knowledge as it’s being created – and continually evolve it through the wisdom of others. (Another KCS concept here: Reuse is Review)

In Knowledge Management, we tend to draw a distinction between “known incidents” (which are incidents or situations we’ve seen before and we’ve already captured knowledge about) and “new incidents” (ones we haven’t).

We’ve gotten pretty good at understanding how to manage known incidents. When it comes to new incidents, our main focus has historically been around capturing knowledge, so we can convert it into a known incident.

Frankly, that’s just not good enough. We need to focus on the challenge of how to best address and manage new situations – not just see them as opportunities for knowledge capture. What can we do BEFORE the knowledge is available?

Applied Wisdom: Wisdom Mapping

Wisdom is the judicious application of knowledge. Therefore wisdom, by its very nature, is impossible to capture. However, capturing the extended context along with the knowledge, gives us a powerful new perspective to leverage.

It’s not exactly realistic to have experts across every conceivable subject matter mulling about, just watching and waiting for a situation that could benefit from their insight. So we looked at our Knowledge & Experience Indexing practices and asked what we CAN do. While it’s impossible to capture wisdom, we are developing insight into the kinds of situations each individual thrives in. What if we used that insight to build wisdom profiles of our engineers? Then, using linguistic analysis to better understand each Service Request as it comes in, we could automatically assign it to the person who is best suited to manage the situation.

In the context of understanding people’s wisdom, each person can be defined by their experience, the knowledge they have, and – most importantly – the knowledge they’ve created. The act of creating knowledge indicates you’ve faced a situation like this before, without having previously-captured knowledge at your fingertips – and used your wisdom to figure out a solution. The more knowledge you create, the better we can understand what wisdom you have to offer.

I call it “Wisdom Mapping” – yes, I do like Wilkeyisms. Don’t judge.

I think of it as similar to Consumer Profiling – but we’re profiling Knowledge Consumers. Unlike Consumer Profiling, we have no ulterior motives. Our only motives are to help improve how we service our customers, help make our engineers’ jobs less tedious and more enjoyable, and help optimize our processes for improved customer experience.

In essence, we’re building a network of loosely-coupled databases, with each node being a representation of a person’s wisdom. Then we integrate that network with the data stream of unfolding situations requiring human wisdom.

Sure… Our Subject Matter Experts are not literally jacked into The Matrix as nodes on a massive wetware database network, continually monitoring this data stream of incoming demand. As cool as that may be, what we have is actually far more effective – plus it has the added benefit of actually being real. With a deep understanding of the valuable wisdom our team members bring to bear and the required wisdom for a given situation, all we need to do is connect the dots to find the best person to engage.

The Win/Win proposition of Knowledge Sharing

People sometimes worry that sharing their knowledge is a risky proposition. They half-jokingly talk about “job security”. They believe their knowledge is what makes them valuable, so by hoarding it they’re somehow making themselves more essential.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

In a Wisdom Mapping model, if you don’t share your knowledge, you’re doing yourself a disservice. It’s not your knowledge, but your wisdom that truly defines your value to a support organization. When using a Wisdom Mapping model, creating and sharing knowledge becomes a marker of adaptability and value. People who can effectively manage NEW situations, and use their wisdom to create knowledge for others, are some of the greatest assets any support organization can have. Sharing knowledge educates and empowers others in the community, which is FAR more valuable than any one person’s ability to solve a given problem alone.

We’re engineers… Not cowboys.

We’re a community of intelligent, experienced professionals. The better each of us does, the better we all do. Furthermore: The better you are at capturing and sharing your knowledge, the more you reveal about your wisdom. And the more likely you are to be given opportunities to really shine – by doing what you’re best at.

When you create knowledge and share your wisdom, you help your whole community while increasing your own value.

The post The Evolution of Knowledge Management: From Document Capture to Digital Experience Management appeared first on InFocus Blog | Dell EMC Services.

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