What sets your organization apart from your competitors? If you asked most service-based business leaders this question, they’d probably mention the quality of their services, their ability to innovate, their teams’ expertise, and/or the speed with which they can solve customers’ challenges. But there’s a common thread in all of these key differentiators.
Knowledge—and, more importantly, the way it’s managed and shared—plays a critical role in your organization’s success. Easy access to organized information serves as the foundation for innovative product development, effective communication, superior customer service, and a happy and productive company culture.
But how do you get to this point? What can you do to foster knowledge sharing in a way that helps you outpace the competition, grow revenue, and meet other business goals?
To help you get there, we’re sharing a helpful overview of knowledge management (KM) in the service industry.
What Businesses Are Included in the Service Industry?
Before we get into the role of knowledge management in the service industry, it’s important to define what types of businesses are part of this industry. As the name suggests, service industry businesses primarily provide services rather than physical goods. These may be direct-to-consumer services, such as travel, hospitality, or entertainment, or business-to-business, such as consulting, financial services, or supply chain management. Almost 79% of the American workforce is employed in the services sector, according to Statista.
How Does Knowledge Management Help the Service Industry?
On a foundational level, knowledge management is the process of compiling, sharing, and managing the information within your organization. In the service industry, organizations rely on their ability to use and deliver highly specialized knowledge. Without effective KM, service industry professionals can struggle to meet client needs.
Here are a few ways KM can benefit your service-based business:
Provides access to training and support
When you have all essential information ready and available for your workforce, it helps speed up onboarding for new hires and ensures all employees feel empowered and supported. Instead of waiting for managers or veteran employees to answer questions, employees can quickly and easily help themselves.
When people have near-instant access to all the information they need, they work faster and accomplish more in shorter periods. As a result, your teams will not only hit project deadlines more quickly, but they can also enjoy a better employee experience and work-life balance (which, in turn, promotes even greater productivity).
Helps increase profits
Lost information and communication breakdowns can strain your bottom line. Hunting down documents and other assets will slow teams’ progress and can negatively impact customer service and sales experiences.
Fosters better communication
When businesses aren’t leveraging effective KM, information becomes siloed in disparate systems. Teams are used to working independently, which can create friction when they need to collaborate. But when everyone has access to the same information, you’ll experience fewer communication challenges.
What Does Successful Knowledge Management in The Service Industry Look Like?
Now you know knowledge management can add value to your business, but what does successful KM look like in action?
Here are two things you can expect with successful KM:
Often, one of the reasons organizations seek to improve knowledge management in the first place is because information is scattered throughout the organization in different systems, causing challenges for the workforce. Even if teams strive to keep data organized, their efforts are often in vain without a centralized process powered by reliable tech. By gathering and sharing your data through a knowledge engagement platform, you can keep all data, process documents, and other essential information consolidated and accessible 24/7.
Consistent customer service
There’s nothing more frustrating for clients than inconsistency and poor customer service. Because some customer-facing employees are more skilled and knowledgeable than others, clients’ experiences vary.
But when information is readily available to everyone—including processes for handling various questions and concerns—you can create more consistency. Whether a team member has been with your company for a few months or a few years, they can deliver the same experience. And that’s crucial given that 90% of Americans use customer service as a factor when comparing businesses, according to data from Microsoft.
3 Ways to Use Knowledge Management to Meet Key Business Goals
Of course, when it comes to achieving success, you can’t rely on technology alone—you also need to develop the right KM strategy. Here are three things you can do to make sure KM supports your service-based organization’s goals:
Get buy-in from all senior leaders
Effective KM supports the entire company and helps everyone achieve their objectives. But to ensure your knowledge engagement platform drives consistent ROI, you need to make sure every team is on board—which means getting buy-in from department heads. Make the case early and choose a few leaders to act as internal KM champions.
Promote knowledge sharing
Encourage all employees to get involved in building and optimizing the KM experience by adding relevant data and information. Knowledge sharing should be a team sport.
Empower employees to work autonomously
Instead of having employees rely on managers and peers for information on a case-by-case basis, drive them to your knowledge engagement platform to enter their questions. This way, anyone with similar concerns can find the same answers. By cultivating discussions and creating a place that houses all the knowledge employees need, they’ll be able to work independently and collaboratively without constant hand-holding or oversight.
When it comes to meeting business goals, KM is important—and knowledge management in the service industry is downright vital. By investing the time and resources to create an effective KM strategy and adopting the right technology, you can set your business up for sustainable success.