Lately I have found myself increasingly interested in how to better leverage on everyday data to make better business decisions and sustain customer experience excellence. Now we all know that trends come and go but every so often, there will be something that comes along that causes you to pause…

So when I recently attended a Knowledge Management sensitization workshop, I was curious to understand what this was all about, and more importantly, the link between Knowledge Management [KM] and Customer Experience [CX], if any. So here was my take out.

Knowledge Management (KM) can be defined as a discipline that improves the ability of organizations to solve problems better, adapt, evolve to meet changing business requirements, and survive disruptive changes. Knowledge is therefore a human or organizational asset enabling effective decisions and action in context. Further, tacit knowledge is knowledge that exists in people’s head and therefore hard to codify whereas explicit knowledge is codified [collated] knowledge and easier to access through documented policies, manuals, processes and procedures. Interestingly enough, KM experts indicate that tacit knowledge forms 80% while explicit knowledge forms 20%. This was a wakeup call on possibly why sustaining CX Excellence remains a challenging journey.

I reckon the rationale for proactive KM provides a good foundation for sustainable Customer Experience. This rationale can be summarized as follows:

  1. Deliberately Breaking Silos:  KM is a differentiator for increased collaboration because it allows for effective processes and decision making.
  2. Supporting Business Continuity: Proactive KM creates organizational resilience and adaptability as well as Retention of expert critical knowledge that would otherwise be lost after staff separation.
  3. Stimulating Innovation: A deliberate focus on KM, avoids reinvention by sharing what works in other parts of the organization. It also promotes a culture where staff are willing to suggest ideas to improve service delivery or for product innovation.

Whilst it is important to determine the KM maturity level for your organization, it is better to put in place measures to cement gains and make progress. This is how;

  1. Thought Leadership: Develop KM thought leadership and generate buy in so as to ring fence resources
  2. Standardization: Proactively manage KM approaches and processes for standardization. This is important because leveraging on best practices from different departments within the organization is a quick win.
  3. Knowledge Harvesting: Proactively conduct knowledge harvesting & transfer noting to capture lessons learnt for growth. This is especially helpful so as to avoid key man risk where a certain staff with a certain skill set is unable to retire or creates a crisis when they leave the organization.
  4. Technology as an enabler: Leverage on technology to allow for KM storage and retrieval via self-service. This is where a good share point linked to a dynamic CRM comes into play. Linking systems allows for data sharing and 360 degree views that eventually allow employees to serve customers better and consistently.
  5. Culture Audit: Not surprising, the success of KM strategies is highly dependent on the organizational culture because as we are all aware, Culture will eat strategy for breakfast, lunch and dinner if left unattended.

I must say I was quite impressed how proactive KM has the potential to jump-start your CX not in a big shake up but more slowly and incrementally because the effort will get you focused on the foundation of what is important for sustainability in CX Excellence.

The light bulb moment for me was you know you have gotten it right with KM when the knowledge for both your internal and external customer is: Just Enough. Just in Time. Just for Them.

This article has been written by Ms. Wavi Muigai,

Head, Corporate Communication & Customer Experience at Higher Education Loans Board, Kenya