I’m often approached by support staff (especially those who are technical specialists) complaining about the quality of knowledge articles written by other support analysts who may be considered “more like generalists”. After hearing them out, I asked them to define exactly what a quality article is, and they often look at me like a puppy dog hearing a strange sound!
What they’re really thinking but not saying is; “nobody can write articles as good as me, because I’m the expert, so others can’t be trusted, especially when it comes to providing knowledge to customers in my specialist domain!” But usually after some discussion we always come to consensus that if the article is good enough to successfully resolve the customers issue then it’s a quality article.
So the question you have to answer for yourself and your team members is; how good is good enough? Well the Consortium actually conducted a survey asking this very question to real customers who actually used web-based self-help knowledge. The details of this survey can be found in the KCS practices guide, but let me give you a summary.
9 Must-Have Data Quality Elements
The survey asked customers to rate in order of importance and in terms of quality 21 key data elements that make up a knowledge article. Only nine rated as ‘must-haves’ and in order of priority they are;
- Technical accuracy and relevance
- It should have a problem and the solution description
- A cause of the problem should be available
- Complete information
- Articles need to be able to be found quickly
- Clarity of content
- Valid hyperlinks
- Configuration information, and finally
- A sense of vendor confidence in the answer
the other 12 elements do have value but they’re not considered must-haves.
So quality starts with at least getting these 9 basics right so remember this sufficient to solve not perfect to behold
Content as shown in KCS Version 5.3 Knowledge-Centered Support Practices Guide (2012) S3 [16.1-4]. 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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