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  • Writer's pictureMaryna Paryvai

Building a Knowledge Management Team: A KCS-Focused Approach

Knowledge lies at the heart of every business operation, especially in customer service. 

And when knowledge is such a valuable asset, relying solely on your employees’ memory isn't just risky – it's inefficient. Without a system to capture new information and keep existing knowledge up-to-date, your team will find themselves stuck in a costly loop of solving the same customer issues repeatedly.


That’s where knowledge-centered service, or KCS®, introduced by the Consortium for Service Innovation comes in. 


High-performing customer service teams apply the KCS approach to ensure that new information is captured as soon as it becomes available and existing content is continuously verified and updated.


By adopting the KCS methodology, you can increase efficiency, reduce time spent on repetitive tasks, enhance self-service, and enhance both customer experience and employee satisfaction. An average team sees a 25-50% improvement in resolution times just within the first year of implementing KCS.


In this article, we'll dive into the workflow of KCS teams and offer practical steps for building a knowledge management team based on the KCS principles. By the end of it, you'll have a solid understanding of how to implement KCS within your team and maintain robust, effective documentation.


How do KCS teams operate?


Knowledge-centered service (KCS) is a methodology widely used by service and knowledge management teams to document ever-evolving business knowledge and save resources that would otherwise be wasted on repeatedly finding solutions for the same requests.


You might say that every organization has different needs for documenting knowledge. And you'd be right. 


The beauty of KCS is its flexibility, allowing it to adapt to your specific requirements. In summary, KCS teams are successful because they:


  1. Document new solutions they come across and share knowledge by creating content;

  2. Structure knowledge in a consistent way to ensure readability and usability;

  3. Reuse knowledge to avoid duplicate work, and update content as they use it to keep things relevant;

  4. Make appropriate documentation customer-facing to enable self-service;

  5. Invest in a culture of learning, sharing, and improving the knowledge base for everyone’s benefit.


This approach ensures that knowledge is continuously captured, maintained, and shared, leading to more efficient and effective problem-solving across the organization.


In simple terms, this means finding a solution once and re-using it going forward. Whenever someone in the organization has a question, they first consult the knowledge base to see if a solution is already documented.


  • If it is, they follow the outlined steps, updating the article (or submitting a request to update it) if any steps have changed or the current documentation is unclear.

  • If no documentation exists, they find a solution and capture the knowledge in a new article (or submit a request to create it).


Sounds simple, right? Indeed, the idea isn’t overly complex. However, the real challenge lies in building a team that can follow this methodology consistently day in and day out and creating a knowledge-centered culture at the organizational level.


What roles does a KCS team need to succeed?


A KCS team should be diverse, including employees from different tiers of your organization or department – with different skills and areas of expertise. And for this team to operate effectively, it's critical to have clear roles and responsibilities that support achieving collective goals.


KCS identifies several key roles essential for building a collaborative, knowledge-sharing environment that ensures knowledge is created, valued, and shared optimally. They include:


  • Leaders, who define the workflow and content standards for the team and facilitate findable and usable knowledge base articles.

  • Knowledge workers, creating content and executing the Solve Loop of the KCS methodology, which involves documenting solutions. This category includes:

    • Contributors, drafting articles based on the identified needs or in response to article change or creation requests.

    • Publishers who create and publish content, as well as approve and publish articles from team members who don’t have publishing rights.

  • Change agents or coaches – KCS experts who support the team in following the best KCS practices and maximizing the use of the KCS approach. In smaller teams, one of the team members often takes on this role part-time, acting as a player-coach.

  • Knowledge domain experts, performing the Evolve Loop part of the KCS approach by assessing documented solutions and identifying improvement opportunities. These improvements are fed back into the Solve Loop to enhance content, optimize processes, or streamline workflows.

The structure of a KCS team

In smaller organizations, knowledge workers may also serve as domain experts. Larger organizations with significant accumulated knowledge typically have a group of domain experts, each responsible for their area of organizational knowledge. They should possess both technical expertise in their domain and a profound understanding of KCS processes.


Each tier of organization requires content contributors and (or) publishers to create and validate articles for the problems solved at their level.


  • For low-complexity environments, you want to have enough publishers to avoid bottlenecks and minimize the queue of drafts waiting to be published.

  • For high-complexity environments, the majority of knowledge workers should ideally have publisher permissions to create and publish content without creating bottlenecks.


4 steps to implement KCS within your team


Now that we are clear on the roles and responsibilities of a KCS team, it's time to start the implementation process. This includes defining the goals and metrics you aim to impact, establishing an implementation timeline, and identifying the resources needed to support the process.


1. Assess your existing processes


First things first: review how you’re currently capturing, organizing, and sharing knowledge within your organization. Consider the following questions:


  • Where is the knowledge stored? Do you have a single platform, or is it divided between multiple sources?

  • How is the documentation being updated? Do you have a system for agents to flag outdated content and submit requests for new articles when they identify non-documented solutions?

  • Do customers have access to the documentation that could support self-service and reduce support volume for your team?

  • What metrics is your team tracking to evaluate knowledge management efforts right now?


Identifying the strengths and weaknesses of your current workflow will help you determine where to focus your efforts first. For example, if you have a well-structured internal knowledge base, you may want to prioritize improving its accessibility for customers.


Having a clear picture of what you currently have in place, will help plan the implementation timeline and evaluate the resources required to implement KCS within your team.


2. Document the workflow and content guidelines


The next step is to document the process your team will follow to share, update, and publish knowledge. Clear roles and processes are essential for smooth implementation. Here’s what to include:


  • What kind of information should your team aim to capture and document?

  • Team structure and responsibilities. Outline who can create, verify, and publish content, and designate the knowledge domain experts for different areas of your business. Clear responsibilities prevent confusion and ensure everyone knows their role in the knowledge management process.

  • Tools and platforms. Identify the tools and platforms your team will use to create, store, and access information. A single unified system is great for accessibility and organization, but using separate systems for internal and external knowledge can also be effective in some cases (not all knowledge management platforms allow you to manage both internal and external content within a single system).

  • How knowledge is captured. If everyone on your team has the skills and access to create content, articles can be created and updated as a by-product of their problem-solving process. This approach ensures information is relevant and easily searchable since it’s based on actual customer interactions. Alternatively, consider a system where agents or even customers can request new articles or flag articles requiring updates, adding them to your knowledge management team’s queue. This method keeps content fresh and distributes ownership across the team, rather than placing the burden on a single individual.

  • Publishing process. Detail the steps for getting new content published or existing articles updated. Typical stages of the publishing process include:  Using a Kanban board can help identify bottlenecks in your workflow and determine where additional knowledge workers or domain experts might be helpful to unblock the pipeline. Also, be sure you outline the definition of "done" for each stage before a piece can be moved to the next one to avoid misunderstandings.

    • Backlog

    • In progress

    • Review stage

    • Articles waiting to be published

    • Published content

Kanban board to track the KCS publishing process
  • Content guidelines. Outline your knowledge base organizational structure, categories, tags, title formats, and any other details required for content to be published. There are many ways to organize knowledge, and you can find the one that works for you in this article. Using help article templates can streamline the content creation process while maintaining an organized structure.


By documenting these elements, you equip your team with a clear and efficient process for managing knowledge, ensuring that everyone knows their role and that valuable information is consistently captured, maintained, and shared.


3. Train the team


Starting small is key, and one of the core principles of KCS adoption. Begin by training a subset of your team on the new processes and allow them time to adjust. Once they are consistently using the knowledge base, relying on its content, flagging outdated or missing solutions, and creating and publishing new content, you can consider this initial group successful. 


Engage the rest of the team once the initial group has embraced the KCS approach. They will see the benefits of KCS and likely be less resistant to the changes.


Creating an environment where people see value in KCS is crucial for developing a sustainable, knowledge-centered team.


4. Monitor the progress


Implementing KCS is not an overnight process; it requires ongoing maintenance and regular reviews to yield results. To measure the effectiveness of your KCS implementation, monitor key metrics such as first-time resolution rates, response and resolution times, and overall support request volume. You can find more metrics in this post about measuring the performance of a knowledge management team.


If implemented correctly, the KCS approach should increase the first contact resolution rate, decrease response and resolution times, improve your self-service score, and ideally have a positive impact on customer satisfaction. Tracking the usage and growth of the knowledge base is also essential.


By continuously monitoring your progress, you can identify areas where KCS is bringing positive changes and areas where improvements are needed. This might include enhancing the knowledge base structure, training additional employees, or tweaking the workflow. Consistent re-assessments help to ensure that the KCS implementation remains effective and adapts to your evolving needs.


Knowledge management made easy


A knowledge-centered service team allows your organization to handle recurring questions and customer requests swiftly, providing consistent answers and enabling self-service.

This approach ensures that your customers receive reliable information, and your team can focus on finding new solutions and improving processes instead of being bogged down by repetitive issues.


If you're looking for additional tools to further streamline your knowledge management workflow, check out Swifteq's Help Center apps, designed for teams running on Zendesk. From advanced article management to AI-powered translation to comprehensive analytics, Swifteq offers a range of solutions to optimize your Zendesk help center.


Book a free demo today and elevate your knowledge base for a happier team and happier customers.



 




Written by Maryna Paryvai Maryna is a results-driven CX executive passionate about efficient and human-centric customer support. She firmly believes that exceptional customer experiences lie at the heart of every successful business.


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