My company deals with a large number of technical support and customer service inquiries. It is becoming more and more difficult to keep all our customer service reps informed on best practices and solutions. How do I build a knowledge management system that will be easy to use and allow my customer service department to thrive?
Good! That's a nice problem to have. Now, let's try to solve it.
Your issue is your inability to quickly and efficiently share information across the organization. The knowledge management system that you dream about has at its heart a knowledgebase, a place where what is known and knowable about your products resides. The "KB" should have some rules about who gets to contribute to it and the format for recording the knowledge. That includes key words and tags because, ultimately, you want to get out of the middle and enable customers to just search on the knowledgebase. So, set up some rules for what knowledge looks like, who gets to write it down and where and how it is stored and retrieved; if at all possible give users the ability to create new knowledge. It will give them some skin in the game and they also are the most knowledgeable about customer information needs.
Finally, you will need some software to do this. I recommend a product that can be hosted online to minimize the overhead for your group such as Salesforce Service Cloud or Microsoft Silverlight. Also check out they vendor's API, which will determine how easy or hard integration will be.
Additionally, consider gamifying knowledge creation. A badge that says this person is really knowledgeable about a product or process is one of the truly valuable badges in any company, and it gives status to your best employees and your best contributing customers.
This was first published in January 2013