References are the available tools and resources employees need to react promptly and appropriately to any situation. They can be tools such as a knowledge management system, work instructions, or people references.
References are especially important in service industries, as their ready availability can have a direct impact on the quality of service provided to customers. Employees can use these standards or reference information as tools when answering any interpretation, method execution, or general questions that arise from a customer’s review of work. Access to references enhances employees’ confidence in their ability to provide proper service.


  • In certain industries, individual service employees may sometimes operate in the field without the immediate support of other personnel. Readily available references provide a means of supplementing knowledge, especially for new and less experienced employees. Some references can fit on a wallet card, while for others access to a company website or intranet is the only economically feasible method of delivery.
  • Knowledge management systems and work instructions can provide employees with the information and knowledge that others who are more experienced in the field possess. These systems can contain any forms, procedures, externally generated documents/specifications, and general guidance documents needed to complete customer required service. Combined with training, they offer an effective means of transferring knowledge.
  • Learning management systems (LMS) are software applications for the administration, documentation, tracking, and reporting of training programs, classroom and online events, e-learning programs, and training content. They form an integral part of a company’s knowledge management system. A robust LMS should be capable of the following:
    • Centralize and automate administration
    • Use self-service and self-guided services
    • Assemble and deliver learning content rapidly
    • Consolidate training initiatives on a scalable web-based platform
    • Support portability and standards
    • Personalize content and enable knowledge re-use
  • References can include phone contact listings, step-by-step work instructions, test procedures, flow charts, expert systems, answers to frequently asked questions, and templates, as well as escalation systems for instances when employees are unable to assist customers and must seek additional help.
  • Work instructions provide details on how to complete a particular process or activity. They can take the form of detailed instructions, as in a user manual, or they can be pictorial in nature.