10 Signs You Need a Knowledge Management Consultant

by Shelf

To survive in a world filled with data, you must run a knowledge-driven business. To boost productivity and customer satisfaction, you need employees and leaders to understand why quality knowledge impacts everyone.

To begin this conversation, you don’t have to go in alone. A knowledge management consultant can help you implement the KM structure you need to better serve customers.

Do nothing about a less-than-ideal KM situation, and expect problems to continue.

Poor knowledge management processes impact revenue

Picture this: It’s 2 p.m. on a Tuesday, and one of your contact center agents receives a call. It’s a client with an urgent request. The agent remembers reading about a similar issue from an article in your knowledge base a few months ago, but they can’t track down the specific instructions they need. Not only does the agent not know exactly this information lives, they’re not too confident information is still relevant.

Knowledge problems seem to rear their head in the worst moments, causing customers to get frustrated and explore a competitor. 

The case for a knowledge management consultant

Many organizations implement new CX software or processes all the time as a solution, but overlook knowledge-related problems like findability. Knowledge often takes back seat to other projects from sales, marketing, IT, and other departments that promise a strong ROI. Truth be told—your knowledge processes (including your KM system) can make or break the success of other initiatives that rely on trusted, up-to-date knowledge.

So we’ve established KM is important—but it’s a good idea for many enterprises to bring on a knowledge management consultant instead of going in alone. 

Here are 10 common signs you may need a knowledge management consultant or certified knowledge manager.

1. Your knowledge is scattered

Have a couple different knowledge bases or repositories people use in your department or region? Far too often, employees can’t find what they need because they don’t know where to look; knowledge silos don’t help productivity.

A knowledge management consultant can help you centralize all the knowledge that out there—even the repositories you didn’t know exited.

A trained knowledge consultant will often:

  • Conduct audits to identify what current knowledge exists and where it’s located
  • Collaborate with business leaders to understand what new knowledge is needed and how their companies can use it
  • Design processes and systems so knowledge can be managed in one place.

To learn what goes on behind the scenes as part of a knowledge audit and vendor evaluation, check out our post, Finding the Right Enterprise KM Solution: A Knowledge Manager’s Journey.

2. Contact center agents can’t find answers

Contact center agents are the front line of your business, the voice of your company, and the first point of contact for customers. Agents simply need great knowledge at their fingertips to provide a great customer experience.

If you don’t have a trusted knowledge source, agents will waste time tracking down coworkers or searching through multiple applications.

Long handle times and high contact center costs can often be traced back to an agents’ inability to find the knowledge they need. As a result, agents will either rely on memory or transfer the call to other agents who may or may not have the answer.

A knowledge management consultant will often interview agents to uncover all repositories used, what makes finding content difficult, and what would make the job easier.

3. Your knowledge base is out of date

Your company likely has some sort of knowledge base or knowledge management solution (maybe even several). Chances are, one or more knowledge repositories contain information no longer relevant.

Your KB may be out of date if:

  • Agents commonly provide incorrect information to customers
  • The knowledge base doesn’t reflect changes in products or services
  • Employees aren’t using the knowledge base
  • Although common, an out of date knowledge base reflects a lack of proper knowledge management process. Launching or announcing a new knowledge management solution is the easy part—keeping content up to date is impossible without a process in place.

A knowledge management consultant can help your organization create a process for:

  • Adding content
  • Updating content
  • Collecting and incorporating feedback on articles
  • Creating a KM roles and responsibilities

Check out our post on how to keep a knowledge base up to date for 5 tips to keep content fresh.

4. Existing knowledge management software isn’t cutting it

How do you know your knowledge management system needs an upgrade? Here are some signs that it might be time to find new knowledge base software (or something more).

  • Your knowledge base is difficult to navigate
  • It takes too long to find the information you need
  • Employees aren’t using the knowledge base
  • You use legacy software difficult to maintain and improve

An experienced knowledge management consultant can help you assess your current system and recommend improvements based on your type of business and goals. Enterprises have different needs and often require a much different set of features than small companies.

For startups, graduating from Google Drive to a simple knowledge base can be a great upgrade. For enterprises outgrowing a knowledge base, a knowledge management platform that integrates with more of their support channels makes a consultant worth bringing in.

5. Poor search results

Even if your knowledge management software has all the bells and whistles, can employees find what they need? People expect a Google-like search experience, yet most products don’t come close.

It may be time to undergo a knowledge management evaluation if you must remember keywords in a title for your knowledge base’s search engine to return the result you need.

A knowledge management consultant can help you put together a features scorecard (including search engine capabilities) if findability remains an issue. Your knowledge base’s search engine is only part of the findability equation; ideally a good search engine should:

  • Use natural language search to help users find information easier
  • Provide relevant results based on text within content, not just content titles
  • Include autocomplete to save time

6. Your customer self-service channels aren’t working

If you have customer self-service channels but customers can’t find answers, it’s likely because knowledge is outdated or there’s not enough knowledge to begin with.

When self-service portals or chatbots don’t deliver needed answers, expect:

  • Unnecessary call volume for simple questions left unanswered
  • Low customer satisfaction scores
  • Bad reviews

As part of a knowledge management assessment, a consultant can help discover knowledge gaps in your self-service knowledge base, and what changes you need to make.

Tip: Integrate your self-service channels with an up-to-date and trusted KM system. 

7. You’re losing knowledge as employees leave

Knowledge comes in all different types as we recently covered in this post— some of which never gets captured and lives in the heads of former employees.

For example, an employee who has been with your company for years likely has a wealth of knowledge about your products, services, and processes. When they leave, so does a lot of undocumented knowledge they’ve acquired.

To prevent knowledge loss, you must implement a knowledge sharing culture even though it will take time (and often a change in culture).

A knowledge management consultant can you create the processes to capture knowledge, including:

  • Designing and implementing a knowledge management system that makes it easy for employees to share, and contribute important information
  • Developing knowledge transfer plans to ensure knowledge is transferred to the right people
  • Ensuring employees have the access they need to knowledge management tools

8. You’re undergoing a knowledge management evaluation

A knowledge management consultant can be a wise investment if you’re in the market for a new knowledge solution that will impact your entire organization.

A certified or trained knowledge manager (or specialist) can help implement a few best practices to ensure you find the right type of knowledge management software for your business.

Outside of new implementations, a consultant can be helpful to bring in on an annual basis to review your overall system or work on a project.

You may prefer a Certified Knowledge Specialist that can help you with a very nuanced knowledge project. There are a few different disciplines in knowledge management professionals can obtain certifications for, like:

  • Information Architecture
  • Change Management
  • Agile and Design Thinking
  • Taxonomy
  • Knowledge Transfer
  • Social KM: Collaboration and Community Management
  • Knowledge Capture
  • Creative Knowledge Management

9. Your employees are hoarding knowledge

In some organizations, there is a culture of knowledge hoarding, where employees are reluctant to share knowledge for fear of losing their jobs. Some employees decide to hoard knowledge because they feel it makes them more valuable as employees—at the expense of the company.

Some employees may hoard knowledge specific to their job that would benefit the team, or hoard knowledge that agents need to help customers.

In either case, a knowledge consultant can help leaders understand the dangers of knowledge hoarding and provide tips to help change the culture.

10. You’re not sure how to measure the success of your knowledge management program

Struggling to understand the measurable ROI of knowledge management? A knowledge consultant can help you set some basic goals.

There are a few metrics directly tied to knowledge you may want to track, like:

  • The number of knowledge items created or updated
  • Overall employee adoption of your KM solution
  • Content production times

So why measure the success of a knowledge management program? This exercise will allow a consultant (and eventually a full time knowledge manager) to report on success of all KM initiatives.

One last note

A knowledge management consultant can be a wise investment, especially if you work at a large enterprise where thousands of customers and employees rely on knowledge.

So many corners of your organization need great answers—especially customer-facing functions like the contact center. As your organization and customer base grows, you’ll be glad you took your company’s knowledge infrastructure seriously by hiring a professional.

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