Things are improving on the corporate information-sharing front, thanks to a number of easy-to-use technologies that support casual knowledge transfers.
Posted Oct 18, 2004
Folklore passes from generation to generation, from storyteller to storyteller, with tales of heroes, heroines, and adventurers. Each time a tale changes hands, a character like Johnny Appleseed or Paul Bunyan grows a little in importance.
In some ways modern business hands down its knowledge and wisdom in the same tradition, but to a less efficient degree. Without the right systems, documentation about purchases, phone conversations, transactions, returns, and customer inquiries can get lost or misinterpreted. Anecdotal knowledge of customer tendencies, management strengths, internal system maintenance, and tips about toggling through customer data seldom survives annual management changes, let alone generational shifts.
But things are improving on the corporate information-sharing front, thanks to a number of easy-to-use technologies that support casual knowledge transfers. These tools include blogging applications, collaboration management software, and enterprise instant messaging.
By offering agents the ability to blog or post and respond to casual content, organizations provide a central repository where this shorthand information can be shared and archived. In addition, if one 15-year veteran posts a blog on the best way to quickly mine a database for historical promotional offerings, another veteran can add to the post suggesting alternative ways to find the information, or the best way to report findings to the customer. The more people who touch the blog, the more effective it becomes.
Many forward-looking organizations see blogs as a smart way to capture the knowledge the baby boomer generation has amassed. In the next 10 to 15 years, many of these boomers will retire, and take with them vast storehouses of casual knowledge. Corporate executives are horrified about the potential impact on customer service. By giving boomers tools today to casually recount their knowledge in a central database, organizations can capture and mine information that will ease the generational transition later.
Going one step further, organizations can now integrate online chat with blogs, providing the archiving solution that typical instant messaging applications can lack. Contact centers and customer support agents are masters at customer-facing instant messaging communications. The benefit of customer chat is obvious--customers appreciate it, it provides immediate answers, and it doesn't cost much. The same benefits can be transferred and internalized. Quick, internal IM sessions, which can often take place between managers and agents, can be autoposted to the appropriate blog session and be viewed and accessed by other agents looking for the same answers. Not only does this put the right answers at the agents' fingertips, it also frees the manager to focus on higher-level tasks. In essence, a combination of blogging and IMing applications can become the dynamic, searchable FAQ of the future contact center.
Like American folklore, business needs to facilitate the ongoing flow of information in order to grow and prosper. By using blogs, instant messaging, and other modern tools, business can accomplish this goal.
About the Author
Peter Quintas is CTO of SilkRoad technology, a leading developer of content management and Web-collaboration application solutions that offer the ease of use, scalability, performance, and TCO required by enterprises and service providers. Quintas is responsible for driving the technology and product direction for the company's focus on the real-time enterprise. Prior to SilkRoad he served as director of technology for divine, where he was responsible for the technical architecture, development, and delivery of divine's collaboration solutions and core software infrastructure. Quintas cofounded and served in entrepreneurial positions at start-ups focusing on high-volume transactional solutions and in areas focusing on Java development tools. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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