A Simple Thing Knowledge Management Leaders Need to Do Right

What is the formula for a customer-obsessed culture? It starts with consistent knowledge management practices.

A customer-obsessed culture is everyone’s responsibility, and knowledge experience is essential for both. Why then, do most organizations maintain completely separate knowledge bases for customers and employees?

The common and simple answer is that employees need knowledge content that is confidential, or at least, non-public. In other words, different knowledge bases are needed because they contain slightly different information for employees and customers. And in the past, that meant you had to keep two separate sets of content, but that’s no longer the case.

For the sake of our CXs and EXs, it’s time we all made up for it.

Consistent insights into customer and employee experience

So is this the only simple thing? Deliver the same content to employees and customers where it is shared? Almost.

The key is consistency. We need to deliver the same knowledge to employees and customers consistently throughout their journey. To really work well in a customer-obsessed culture that stems from transparent CX and EX, knowledge management must be viewed as much broader than a knowledge base.

The truth is, every customer touchpoint that is educational in nature requires a perfectly consistent experience. To achieve this, each piece of knowledge, content and information needs its own unique source of truth. Everything needs its place of origin and there can only be one place of origin for everything.

Related article: Is it time to combine customer experience and employee experience programs?

Single source of truth

It’s the only simple thing. A hyper-focus and dedication to the enterprise-wide single source of truth (SSOT).

The push for SSOT is not new, but the approaches to achieving it available to us today are. Historically, working towards SSOT was code to put everything into one big repository. This was one of the driving forces behind the implementation of large enterprise content management (ECM) systems in the 2000s and 2010s.

While these efforts were mostly well-intentioned, they were missing one key element – it doesn’t matter if you can put everything in one place if you can’t directly access that content for all the required experiences. If I’m a developer creating an informational experience, having the information I need in the ECM in a document is as good as not existing at all. In the best case, I can copy it. At worst, I’ll have to recreate it. Either way, SSOT is broken.

We have come a long way since that time. Today, we have the technology and practices that open up the possibility of truly achieving SSOT. The key ingredients are just three things:

  1. Structure and compose all content.
  2. Catalog all structures.
  3. Know where everything is.

These three things, taken in their absolute, unlock true SSOT. Obviously, actually implementing them is an extraordinary effort, so it has to be done step by step. Even so, these three conceptually simple things are the North Star that can lead your organization to an SSOT. And every little progress along that journey reduces the number of inconsistent and unnecessary experiences for your customers and employees.

Related Article: The 2022 Golden Rule of Customer Experience: Treat Employees Like You Treat Your Customers

Put content where it belongs

One last thought. I want to emphasize that moving towards this goal is not a process of buying a single piece of technology and stuffing it all into it. There will never be a world where a single system can contain all the information and content that our customers and employees need. This is the “know where everything is” piece.

Fewer systems are generally better because they’re easier to track, but putting information into a system that’s not designed to handle it is worse than having another system added to the ecosystem. Put things in their place and have a strategy to put them together where they are needed.

Donald E. Patel