Adoption, engagement, aligning motivation of the participants area constant theme is discussions about social business (aka enterprise 2.0). Here is an example of audience participation led to successful engagement with a knowledge management effort from the last decade that, I think, offers some useful ideas for this decade.
A major telecom was faced with increasing competition and needed to cut costs and attempt to improve customer service. Their first time call resolutions were below industry standards, driving up costs and driving down customer satisfaction. Being forced to search through multiple databases, the reps had trouble finding answers to customer questions. They had to develop the skills of entertaining the customer on the phone while searching for answers at the same time. Something needed to change.
A knowledge management system was implemented that simplified access to content. Users were very involved to the initial design and its refinement. They were asked to name the obstacles that interfered with success on the call center measures and the knowledge system was designed to address these. I found this to be a requirement for success.
One of the interesting aspects of this story was a little different was the alignment of an additional motivation system with current practices. The strongest motivation remains alignment with the business strategy and key business processes. In the end, the reps would not continue to use the system if it did not help their performance. But how to get them started, especially with a workforce that was used to extra incentives?
Rather than invent a new incentive system, we asked about what was in place. There were two systems currently in use. One was successful and the other not. The unsuccessful one was designed to encourage suggestions for improvement but it took too long to provide the status and feedback on these suggestions. It was underused.
The successful one was simple and required a very rapid response to each employee’s input. It was designed to promote and reward great customer service. There were different levels of extraordinary service and different reward levels, from lunch with your supervisor to a chance to win a vacation.
So we aligned with this one. It was especially easy as the knowledge management system was designed to improve customer service. So examples of using the new knowledge management system to provide extraordinary customer service. along with ways to improve the KM system, were added to the existing incentive program. The people who ran the incentive program liked this addition as it expanded the coverage of their program. The reps liked it because the reward program was already well known and popular.
The KM program proved successful in pilot and was expanded. The motivation system was just one of a number of factors but it helped get things started right.