Context is More Important Than Content for Executive Buy-In

We always stress the importance of ensuring KCS articles are written in the customer context and are problem-centric rather than solution-centric.  We might capture and publish an article on “How to Change a Battery,” but if the customer is searching for “my car won’t start,” the likelihood they will find the appropriate article and resolve their problem is low.  Similarly, if we position our KCS program in a solution-centric way (in which we talk about the how: creating and improving knowledge as a by-product of the case, linking knowledge articles to cases, etc.), our services executives may not understand the why: the value of the KCS program and how it helps solve their problems and achieve their business goals.  Failure to position our KCS program in our executive’s context can severely impact the support we receive for our KCS implementation.

An analogy shared by a participant at a recent KCS World Tour may also resonate.  If you are providing someone directions to get somewhere, you have to start with the person’s current location for those directions to be effective. If we want our executive team to arrive at an understanding of the value of KCS, we start with where they are today.  To do that, we first need to understand their challenges and goals for the organization.

Of course, service organizations’ challenges and goals vary, but some we hear about often include:

  • Improving customer/requestor satisfaction with the company’s service experience
  • Lowering the cost of providing support/services
  • Improving the ramp-up speed of new knowledge workers
  • Minimizing the loss of IP during knowledge worker turnover

The key to gaining and sustaining executive buy in for a KCS implementation is providing line of sight from their objectives to the KCS program.  Often we need to break down these objectives into supporting goals to provide that. For example, if an executive objective is to improve customer/requestor satisfaction with the service experience, a KCS implementation supports that by:

  • Reducing time to resolution
  • Reducing customer/requestor effort in pursuing a resolution
  • Reducing case escalations
  • Improving first-time fix percentages

Now it becomes much easier to tie KCS benefits to our high-level organization goals. It also allows us to identify measurable outcomes that should be goals for our KCS program.   This goal alignment is critical!  This will help us avoid the pitfall of placing goals on outcomes that the executive team does not care about, or even worse, placing goals on KCS activities.  It bears repeating: do NOT put goals on KCS activities!  We want to align our KCS activities to outcomes, and track the trends of KCS activities, but putting goals on activities will ultimately drive behaviors that will corrupt the whole KCS implementation.

While it is well-documented (both in the Adoption Guide and in many KCS Case Studies) that KCS supports the above goals, we can’t assume that executives understand how KCS helps achieve these.

Creating and communicating a strategic framework, a one-page document that ties together business objective, approach, and KCS contribution, is a worthy exercise that ensures we are aligned on goals that matter to our executives, and gives them just enough information about the investment we need from them to get there.

Sample Strategic Framework from the KCS v6 Practices Guide

Once our executive team understands the context (that a successful KCS implementation will directly influence their top-level goals), we have a much easier time advocating for the content of a KCS program (the resources required to make it successful).

2 thoughts on “Context is More Important Than Content for Executive Buy-In

  1. Great blog, Arnfinn! I have found that context sometimes boils down to using language that resonates with leadership when tying KCS to organizational goals (even if it is not our typical KCS-speak.) I recently shifted to describing how we are “generating incremental value from the investment of article creation.” THEN when I showed a 62% increase in FCR on cases with knowledge articles attached they were able to put the pieces together.

  2. “… do NOT put goals on KCS activities! We want to align our KCS activities to outcomes, and track the trends of KCS activities, but putting goals on activities will ultimately drive behaviors that will corrupt the whole KCS implementation.”

    This excerpt is an excellent reminder about how to effectively influence behavior. Getting buy-in on the ultimate destination, determines how people act on the way there.

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