Teaming up to tackle tribal knowledge

Published: Wednesday, January 29th, 2020

Tribal knowledge is not a new concept, everybody knows that when 1 Million dollars is on the line, it’s best to phone a friend.

So, it's only natural that in the Contact Center - a melting pot of high-pressure situations and the need for instantaneous answers - that the 'Ask a Colleague Culture' thrives. There is heavy reliance on the “expert” to solve all those tricky problems. Sound familiar? Don’t worry, you’re not alone.

The warning signs...

The issue is easy to spot.

Support staff donning fluorescent vests, stalking the floor. Waiting for the desperate stare or frantic wave from brand-new agents pleading for help. Or maybe it’s a helpline that can be dialed in seconds yet leaves both agent and customer awkwardly in limbo as they listen to hold music waiting for an answer. And if all that fails, Mary - the veteran - is always available. She's been with the company for over 10 years, she knows all the products, policies and processes, and she’s always willing to help. The only problem is, she can’t stand all the emails constantly flooding her inbox, even if they are there to let her know what has changed. Also, she prefers the workaround to the process because that’s how she was taught in training. She’s even got her paper manual that was printed back in 2015. Yes, Mary is a true Tribal Knowledge Leader.

Regardless of which survival technique your agent chooses, their intention is the same. They want to work as a team, to collaborate for reassurance. The behavior isn’t necessarily coming from a bad place, just the need to find an answer quickly. However, for your business, the critical point is making sure the answer is right. After all, getting it wrong is costly in increasingly more ways than one.

Enter Generation Now...

Let’s talk about Generation Z. According to Forbes, their attention span is eight seconds. It’s not surprising. They were raised on Google. They are used to finding the answers to their questions in seconds. Their generation are used to instant gratification. Welcome, your newest Contact Center agents. In fact, it is predicted by 2020, Gen Z will make up 36% of the global workforce.

Don’t be alarmed. These digital natives have something to offer. Especially given the technology explosion sweeping through your business.

The introduction of instant messaging apps, in addition to the disparate and remote workforce, have changed the way business people communicate. Today 45% leverage social tools to collaborate in their day to day role.

Gen Z isn’t going to walk over to ask Mary for help. They also won’t wait on hold for their answer. No, Gen Z is going to use chat; Skype, Teams, Slack. They trust their peers to provide those crucial Knowledge Nuggets in their moment of need.

So be aware. Tribal knowledge is more prevalent than ever… it’s just not as visible, which makes it much more dangerous.

Take outs...

  1. Collaboration is key for employee engagement. Don’t discourage your teams from communicating! This isn’t about punishing Mary for trying to help. Remember collaboration is more effective when supported by knowledge.

  2. Access to the right information is crucial for your customer experience. You can’t afford to get things wrong. Remember information becomes effective knowledge with context and the right governance.

  3. Supporting your teams in their preferred channel is your only option. If you want to encourage a culture of Knowledge Share you must embrace your workforce’s way of working. Remember if the answer is too hard to find, we are back to asking Mary.

Team up with Panviva and Microsoft to Tackle your Tribal Knowledge problem!


Tags: Employee Experience, Digital Transformation, Compliance