Knowledge bases are probably one of the most important (and overlooked) tools in any IT service desk. There’s a thousand reasons why it is so important to have, and all the ways you can benefit from it. Despite all its benefits, there are 3 main reasons why Service Desks are still hesitant to jump on the knowledge train. Let’s talk about those three reasons and why those reasons you think you shouldn’t are really reasons why you should.
“We already have someone who knows how to do that”
What happens when that person takes a week off and goes on vacation and the service desk gets a bunch of incidents or questions for that one thing that only ‘That One Person’ knows how to do? Most of the time, those tasks are easily taught and explainable, but because ‘That One Person’ knows how to do it, the knowledge doesn’t get shared. The customer who submitted that incident now has to wait a week just for ‘That One Person’ to even know that this incident is sitting out there. Then, who knows how long on top of that before they have the time to work that incident – they did just come back from vacation and have lots of emails to catch up on (not to mention a serious case of the Monday’s because who doesn’t after returning from a vacation?) I bet, there isn’t one single customer that will appreciate having to wait longer than expected for their incident to be resolved because someone was on vacation. Here’s where having a knowledge base helps. ‘That One Person’ who knows how to perform the task can document the steps needed to perform the task. Once the documentation is completed and accessible to everyone on the team via, you guessed it, the knowledge base, everyone now has step by step directions on how to perform this task. Now, when ‘That One Person’ goes on vacation again, the any one on the team can go to the knowledge base, find the knowledge article, and complete those tasks. Now, you have happier customers because the service to them is no longer interrupted by someone’s vacation, and you’re not setting ‘That One Person’ for a never-ending game of catch up when they come back.
“It takes too much time to document things”
Everyone knows the work of the Service Desk never ends: there’s always work to do and a fire to put out. So, let’s say hello again to ‘That One Person’: ‘That One Person’ is in the middle of resolving an incident and one of their teammates comes up to them with a question about that task that only ‘That One Person’ knows how to do. Now, that ‘That One Person’ has to stop what they are doing, answer that question, and then re-focus back to their work. Well, now that teammate has another question about the same task. Now again, they stop what they are doing, answer the question, and then re-focus all over again. Then a different teammate comes by with the same questions and they have to repeat the stop work, answer question, and refocus cycle all over again. That incident that ‘That One Person’ was just about to resolve typically takes them about 10 minutes to resolve, but now it’s taken 45 minutes because they lost time answering the same question twice and lost focus. Now, there is nothing wrong with teamwork and collaboratively solving problems as a team, and we know that some problems require that, but for the easily explainable, and simpler everyday tasks, it isn’t really an efficient way to problem solve. Imagine if there was a knowledge article out there that would have had the answers those teammates had about that task- now those co-workers would feel empowered to tackle that task and ‘That One Person’ doesn’t have to spend most of their day explaining the same thing repeatedly. But how does that solve the time issue? Let’s say it takes about 30 minutes to write up that article. Let’s also say that ‘That One Person’ wasted approximately 45 minutes of his day at least twice a week to answer those same questions. That means that ‘That One Person’ would lose 30 minutes of time once, but they would gain 1 ½ hours back a week. That time can know be spent on working more incidents or writing up some more knowledge articles.
“Why build up a knowledge base if no one is ever even going to use it”
Building it up is only the first step. There’s 4 key things that need to happen once it’s built up to ensure the use of it:
- Communication! Advertise it- leverage your company’s communication plan and get the word out. Get people excited about- make sure your communications boast the features and benefits.
- It must have meaningful knowledge that benefits the user. This means making sure you understand your audience for the knowledge base and making the knowledge valuable to that audience. If your audience is the Service Desk of the call center you may want to make sure there’s some articles on how to troubleshoot basic phone issues, or how to resolve system errors thrown by the ERP system. If your knowledge base audience was the call center reps taking the calls, you may want to fill the knowledge base with articles on how to remap a printer, how to update your signature in outlook, etc.
- It must have current information. If every time I search the knowledge base, I find nothing, but outdated articles then guess what, I’m going to give up on it and stop using it.
- It must be easily accessible. If it is a separate application, then it should have Single Sign On – one click and I’m in. If Single Sign On is not an option, then the password and username should be the same as the user’s network log in – because no one wants another password to remember.
These are just three reasons why you shouldn’t that turned into why you should, can you imagine all the other things you are missing out on by not digging deeper into why you think you shouldn’t?
-Krystina Hodge, Consultant