Saying the workplace is evolving quickly and in a way that the world has never experienced before is an understatement. Companies are redesigning the workplace as both remote and hybrid work are being cultivated. Companies of today can consist of up to five generations of workers within their hybrid, 100%-remote, or brick and mortar “walls.” These generational workers help customers within up to five channels: email, chat, text, phone, and social medial. Customers want better self-serve options to give them the right answer quickly in a multitude of different ways: chatbots, internal customer portals, external websites, and company apps. It’s multi-faceted and takes a different mindset and approach. It can be overwhelming.

According to a recent PWC Annual Global CEO survey, 40% of global CEOs think their organization will no longer be economically viable in ten years’ time if it continues its current course. According to a recent APQC Survey, 38% of leaders are now recognizing that managing knowledge is a strategic asset within the organization. The way a company manages knowledge is critical to the ability to pivot, drive, and sustain a growing company. A Harvard Business Review study found companies that conducted mass layoffs suffered a job performance decline of 20% as their remaining employees struggled with added responsibilities and lost knowledge.

Are organizations and the human capital that work inside organizations able to change operationally as quickly as they need to when the workplace is evolving and when different generations think and work differently? How does the knowledge we tap into need to change within the evolving workplace? How can we preserve knowledge when workers leave the company and take that knowledge with them? How can we efficiently transfer the evolving knowledge to both our workers and customers? How do we manage that knowledge in a way that our multi-generational employees or gig workers can utilize?

How do we serve up that same knowledge to our customers in the way they want it so they will continue to be our customers? How do we continue to learn and evolve our knowledge so it’s relevant? Bottom line: Leaders at all levels within a company need to be asking those questions.

The New Age of Knowledge

We are in a new knowledge age—knowledge that we can cultivate so it can quickly become a valuable natural resource within the company. This new knowledge can’t be used up or depleted, and when it’s shared, it increases and expands in value. The knowledge of today can’t be outsourced to a third party; this knowledge comes from both inside and outside your company. It comes from newly hired and veteran workers and from new and long-term loyal customers.

The knowledge management trends we are seeing are all about making a company’s collective knowledge more actionable through better retention and sharing—which ultimately provides a competitive advantage. In comparison, old ways to manage knowledge versus the new way is like taking data and information and turning it into a form of energy that can future proof the company.

Increased Productivity, Enhanced Worker Mental Health, and a Better Customer Experience

The new knowledge age is part of a company’s culture and transforms the old, static way of managing data and information into a dynamic knowledge culture. Now this culture can support a healthy employee experience, a great customer experience, and the company’s initiatives. This new age of knowledge takes planning and collaboration. It’s an ongoing process and consists of a systematic approach that continuously learns from employees, gig workers, and customers. This approach curates and delivers answers that can support, tailor, and improve decision making, care, safety, and quality as well as satisfy compliance and regulatory requirements.

This Isn’t About Document Management

It’s not about managing a huge database of documents that workers can scour for the answers. It’s not about a basic set of FAQs that customers can access through self-service. It’s about the way companies cultivate, manage, and deliver knowledge quickly in a way that works for the employee and gig worker. It’s about delivering the right answer, not a huge document to read through while the customer is waiting. If the knowledge is systematically managed and quickly delivered, it can help both the worker and customer make a decision.

At conception, knowledge is only information and data. Once it’s analyzed, it becomes business intelligence that can help leaders make better decisions that will keep their business units evolving, helping to future proof their companies. Today’s workplace is evolving quickly, and how we manage knowledge must be an active part of that evolution.

Why Alignment Is Necessary

When a company aligns their knowledge with company initiatives, the organization can pivot in today’s business climate. When a systematical approach to knowledge is utilized, it is easier for workers to do their jobs, and they feel more successful. This can have a huge impact on employees and gig workers as they enthusiastically get behind company initiatives. True alignment can also decrease training times for new hires and help make all workers more productive, all of which saves labor dollars.

Alignment is necessary for the customer experience. Because workers can find the correct answer faster, the customer’s issue can be resolved with the first interaction. This means customers are more satisfied and will come back for more products and services, which will increase the company’s top-line revenue.

In today’s drive toward customer self-service, alignment with the company’s initiatives and how their customers want to access self-service can have a huge impact on customer satisfaction. Serving up knowledge in a fast and efficient way within multiple channels—chatbots, customer portals, external websites, and company apps—takes a systematic approach that aligns with what the customer wants and the company’s initiatives.

The Challenges

One of the challenges is that companies may struggle to find the time to do this. Leaders can’t see the benefits that outweigh the time needed to make this change. Leaders don’t understand that they will be treading water and eventually start losing ground on both worker and customer satisfaction if they don’t pivot. Some organizations don’t have the expertise and knowledge of best practices. The lack of a systematic approach to knowledge greatly impacts the organization’s ability to pivot in today’s constantly changing business climate.

Next in this new age of knowledge, supporting the evolution of the workplace needs to be driven from the C-Suite and senior leadership. A new mindset is needed and must be part of the strategic initiatives. It’s not a nice-to-have but a must-have to keep companies moving in the right direction.

Finally, understanding the maturity level of knowledge within your organization is critical. Additionally, the cost of not evolving their knowledge strategy can be catastrophic for companies. With a systematical approach and knowledge best practice, a company can experience better worker productivity and mental health while reducing training times for new hires. A good systematical approach to knowledge can also enhance the customer experience, both when contacting an agent and utilizing one of the self-serve channels.

A new mindset of understanding the maturity level of how your company utilizes knowledge and having a systematical approach based on sound best practice can contribute to a company being economically feasible in the next ten years. Today’s CEOs understand the challenges and are looking for their senior leadership to bring game plans forward to help the company be nimble and able to respond proactively to change so they are viable in the next decade.

Vicki Brackett is a contact center industry veteran, a long time CCNG member and regular contributor in member programs and events. Recognized as a subject-matter expert on virtual/work-at-home environments and leadership development. Vicki helps members in a variety of topic areas including innovative and progressive solutions that impact increasing higher CSATs, first call resolutions, new agent speed to competency and higher productivity…all while engaging team members and reversing high absenteeism and attrition.

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