Knowledge Centered Service (KCS) was a key initiative at the IT software company, ConnectWise, in 2019. They had developed a methodology for improving customer support, but a legacy tech stack of “duct tape and band-aids” was blocking their efforts.
With content strewn across their data silos (and most of it complex in nature) agents struggled to find the correct information to deliver to customers. The company wanted to implement a set of best practices that would enable employees to easily access information – and create it – in one, fluid motion.
The creation aspect was key. A knowledge-hoarding mindset had emerged in the organization because content creation was seen as a burden to agents’ jobs. A simpler workflow was needed. This was the plan when Matt Breejen, director of education, and Joe Lombardo, director of support, tackled the initiative in October of 2019. Little did they know how crucial this new system would be when it launched in March 2020 – just as a global pandemic was uprooting everything.
Implementing Machine Learning in KCS
Prior to the initiative, ConnectWise support agents were looking for information across a mass of content repositories. This included their knowledge base, technical documentation, and the ConnectWise University. Not only was there no unified index in place, but agents had no insight into what content was proving to be the most popular and valuable with customers.
“[Agents had] two or three screens open at once while they’re trying to work a ticket,” Matt says. They were searching through the weeds.
“We really wanted to enhance the adoption of this program by getting that information as close to [our employees] as possible, preventing them from having to go to different places,” adds Joe. “We decided through our implementation that we wanted to bring that pane of glass as close to where those colleagues were working as possible.”
Operating on their homegrown ITSM tool, ConnectWise wanted the new processes to fit directly into the existing structure. In this, they’d be leveraging the capabilities of Artificial Intelligence (AI), while still making sure that their employees would be talking with customers, finding knowledge articles, and creating new ones – all in one location. What’s more, they wanted to showcase behind-the-scenes analytics to every employee, ensuring that everyone was making fully informed decisions.
“We realized that we were going to have to take full advantage of technologies like Coveo, and really leverage them in order for these to be successful,” adds Joe.
Redefining Business Analytics
To ease agents’ journeys, Matt and Joe made sure that the new system featured an insight panel that was accessible for all their employees. They built it directly into their product and aimed to take the holistic view of their analytics, giving every employee equal access. The insight panel would be used to empower every decision, fortifying it with the deepest amount of knowledge.
“The insight panel is the interface for all of our boots-on-the-ground folks here at ConnectWise,” Joe explains. For the employees dealing with customers, “they use the insight panel to better understand customer search habits, and what information they’re looking for on a regular basis.”
Agents can see which articles are the most popular, which have led to previous successes, and where there are holes in their knowledge pathways. By giving these front-line workers access to behind-the-scenes analytics, they’ve been able to proactively create content on the spot, add it to the company index, then allow machine learning to automatically tag that data as a solution for similar problems in the future.
“The insight panel has taught us a lot about the adoption of the KCS process within the support teams,” clarifies Joe. He explains that AI allowed them to not just solve arising issues in the moment as needed, but also create the necessary solutions at the source. This keeps problems solved for the future as well. It was a surgical fix to issues for the long term, as opposed to their band-aid past of just patching them up.
AI for Everyone
This technology upgrade had some unexpected but pleasant side effects for ConnectWise. Solely based on the number of searches and other executions that had taken place on their documents previously, other departments started seeing the same value that the customer service agents had seen. Machine learning was recognizing knowledge pathways that Matt and Joe had not anticipated before, and it was all happening in a completely hands-off and automated manner.
“Other departments were able to leverage the insight panel to find information that they needed, without us even telling them,” Joe explains. “We learned a lot more about where this information could be valuable, and what other teams could benefit from it.”
All of a sudden, Matt and Joe were getting messages from others in the company telling them how much value they were finding in the system too. Forced to work remotely due to the pandemic and unable to rely on seeking out knowledge from their neighboring colleagues, other departments in the organization were not only using the system, but finding real value in it.
Going Beyond KCS
As if ConnectWise wasn’t already pushing the envelope enough, Matt and Joe are expanding across the organization. After they received the award for their innovation with the insight panel, they revealed how they were using AI to drive a totally new piece of their customer experience as well: a personalized news feed!
“For our customers, when they come in, they see articles and information that relates to them, based on their previous search history,” Matt explains. “We’re taking advantage of that to get different blog posts in front of people; things like articles and audio podcasts. We’re using it to power something completely different.”
The acknowledgement of creativity in this new experience wasn’t lost on their boss, CCO Craig Fulton, as he highlighted just how much the two had evangelized the product within the company.
“Matt was a very strong advocate for getting relevance within the organization,” Craig states. “He made sure that everyone understood that this is a relevance tool. How [the customers] are interacting with the content is what’s building their journey.”
This reliance on AI’s relevance tuning is in clear view with their new addition of the news feed. Much like something you would see on LinkedIn or other social platforms, they’re taking the data that they’ve leveraged from their users and letting machine learning automatically put together a compilation of personalized content for each of them.
But as much as the two men acknowledge the need for ingenuity and out of the box thinking when tackling a company’s service issues, both recognize the value that technology holds in bringing these goals to fruition.
“Technology itself can be a real roadblock to successful KCS adoption,” says Matt. “You can have all the best intentions in the world, and do everything right, but if you don’t have the technology in place to actually do it, then you’re only going to get so far.”
It’s thanks to this ingenuity and value for technology that ConnectWise was able to capture this year’s Innovators Award, all while turning their KCS dreams into a functioning reality.
If you want to learn more about what Joe and Matt accomplished, listen to them tell the full story. And to hear from other Relevance leaders changing the service landscape, be sure to dive into our Relevance 360 session recordings.