KCS New vs Known Analysis
Things come into our support organization that we’ve done before, therefore we know about the issue; so it’s KNOWN. And things come in to our support organization that we don’t know, therefore its NEW. Now this may seem obvious, but what is obvious in concept is not always obvious by practice. The KCS new vs known analysis is an example of the continuous improvement processes in the KCS Evolve loop.
The new vs known process can help assess the health and the effectiveness of the support organization’s KCS practices. This is an example of the kind of process the Knowledge Domain Expert (KDE) would facilitate. The goal of KCS is to capture and reuse knowledge gained through customer interactions, we want to solve at once and reuse it often. We want to solve at once and reuse it often.
Ideally, we would like our support resources to solve new issues not known issues. As a support organization adopts KCS and integrates the use of the knowledge base into the problem-solving process, we will see the internal reuse of knowledge increase, and by this, we can establish the baseline for new vs known ratio.
Ideally, we would like our support resources to solve new issues not known issues
As we start to deliver knowledge to customers through a self-service model, external reuse increases and internal reuse decreases; this is because we are solving known issues through self-service. Understanding the ratio of new vs known incidents becomes an indicator of the health of the knowledge flow and the effectiveness of the self-service model.
What constitutes known?
Well, for the purposes of the new vs known study ‘known’ means captured and findable. It also includes the volume of incidents closed with existing content (meaning that it was linked to a pre-existing article).
In some environments they have found that it interesting to identify “known but not captured.” This would be helpful if there’s a lot of “tribal knowledge,” which represents the things that are known by all, but not captured in the knowledge base (it’s worth noting here, that if you’ve got a lot of tribal knowledge then it’s an indicator that support analysts are not really doing KCS – remember; if it’s worth solving then it’s worth capturing in the knowledge base). Okay, we’re now clear on the definition of known, but I also mentioned ‘linking’, well, you can link anything, so what constitutes a legitimate link?”
In its simplest form a link is a KCS knowledge base article that resolves the question or the problem raised by the customer, and is validated by the customer (just for those who think that ignoring the incident might make it go away).
As search engines have become more and more sophisticated and documentation is indexed and linkable even at the word or sentence level, some organizations are just linking a sentence or a paragraph that resolves the issue to the incident as a resolution. Pretty cool huh?
So if I could provide an expanded criteria for the word “link” I would say that; it’s a resolution that is specific to the issue, findable, linkable and resides in a maintained repository.
The Powerful Benefits of New vs Known Analysis
New vs known analysis seeks to identify opportunities to reduce resources spent on known issues and accelerate the resolution of new issues. Reducing resources spent on known issues is a function of the self-service model, with focused effort on improving customer use of knowledge, as well as customer success when using that knowledge.
New vs. known also seeks to improve the speed and accuracy in solving new issues which is a function of getting the right resources working on the issue as quickly as possible. By looking at incidents closed from the perspective of new vs known, and then analyzing incidents in each category, we can identify the percentage of new vs known issues being worked on in the support center. This will then create a baseline against which we can measure the impact of future improvements. We can also identify the characteristics of known issues and assess why they are not being solved through self-service.
The Scope of New vs Known Analysis
The scope of analysis should include;
- Support centers established for Internal and/or External customer support
- First point of contact (Level 1), First point of escalation (Level 2), Second point of escalation (Level 3)
- Hardware, software and networking services
So how do we approach this? The new vs known study is something that should be performed periodically over the course of a year and probably not more than once a quarter.
The study is conducted using sampling techniques and is segmented by product area or product family. When starting off it is recommended that you do a pilot with 2 or 3 product areas to get a feel for the process. For the pilot, it’s ideal to have a group of subject matter experts together in a conference room for a day. This focus group coupled with the new vs known process allows you to discuss and resolve any points of confusion quickly. Follow-on analysis can be coordinated by a conference calls.
There are four steps in the new vs. known process
- Scope definition: Identifies product areas to focus on
- Data collection: looks at incident volumes closed over an agreed period of time. There should be enough metadata elements captured in the data extract to perform analysis.
- Incident analysis: Subject matter experts (SMEs) analyze a sample of both the incident data and the knowledge base. During this analysis they categorize each data row using the categories provided in the ‘new vs known’ spreadsheet.
- Identify and discuss opportunities: Involves calculating the % of new vs known, and then whilst asking the question; “what things can support do to remove known issues from the incoming incident workload,” we can look at things like:
- Knowledge capture rate
- Link rate
- Publish rate
- Customer use of self-service
- Article findability
- Self-service portal navigation, and
- Diagnostic process reviews and improvements
The KCS practices guide is a fantastic resource to learn more about this topic, it provides a detailed break-down of the new vs known process and even provides a suggested list of questions to ask, as well as links to sample spreadsheet templates.
So what are you waiting for? Let’s start new vs knowing!
Content as shown in KCS Version 5.3 Knowledge-Centered Support Practices Guide (2012) S3 [24.1-20]. KCS v5.3 was written and edited by Melissa George, David Kay, Greg Oxton, Rick Joslin, Jennifer MacIntosh, and Kelly Murray.
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Written By Paul Jay
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