Knowledge Bases

Skill level: Intermediate

Description

Knowledge bases play an integral role in service quality. They can be used to collect information, which, at a later time, can be queried to develop or test a hypothesis. They are also useful for collecting information “embedded” in an organization.

In many service industries, knowledge is developed through field experience. This knowledge is often held by individuals and is inherently local and temporary. Knowledge bases provide a way to collect this information in a less formal structure than a written manual. Service personnel can submit learnings and tips to a knowledge base, which can be queried at a later time. Additionally, multiple knowledge bases can be linked to create a more sophisticated level of information.

A background process for reviewing the accuracy and relevance of the data is essential. Otherwise, the knowledge base will become overloaded and not usable.

Benefits

  • Increases effectiveness of service personnel in debugging obscure problems
  • Provides an organized depository for “embedded” specific knowledge
  • Enables quick and efficient retrieval of information through the use of queries
  • Adaptable to many types of information
  • Can be portable through the use of web interfaces
  • Can be linked with other databases, increasing the value

How to Use

  • Step 1.  Determine the type of information for collection.
  • Step 2.  Develop a standard form for inputting data as records.
  • Step 3.  Create a search or query mechanism.
  • Step 4.  Define the sources and review process to input data.
  • Step 5.  Collect data.
  • Step 6.  Enable the searching functions.
  • Step 7.  Continuously review the relevance of the data.

Relevant Definitions

Query: The ability to search a knowledge base using some specified parameter(s).

Web interface: The opening of a knowledge base to users through a browser-enabled access point.

Example

Greater Dayton Appliance employs about 50 service technicians with an average of 10 years of experience. Management would like harness the power of these 500 years of experience to help all technicians be more efficient and to provide new technicians access to the organization’s embedded knowledge. The organization decides to create a knowledge base to collect tips submitted by tenured technicians.

An SQL database is developed to hold the tips. A standard web-enabled input form is created so that the technicians can submit tips from any computer at any time. Each technician is incented to submit at least one tip per week. The knowledge base quickly grows to more than 5,000 tips.

On the retrieval side, a standard web-enabled query page is developed so technicians can search by model, manufacturer, problem type, or keyword.

Once the knowledge base is available, technicians begin to access it an average of 25 times per day. Average service hours per call decrease by 10 percent and the first-call fix rate increases by 30 percent.

 

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