How optimizing knowledge format can increase access to information and resolve IT issues automatically

Choosing knowledge formats can dramatically improve self-serve issue resolution. When information is delivered in a sub-optimal format, the support seeker can defer or delegate responsibility when finding an adequate answer takes too long, thereby reducing their own productivity and adding to the IT support team backlog. One strategy that can be undertaken is to refine existing knowledge base formats to be more situationally accessible. This will increase access to information and improve the self-serve support ratio. There are many different forms that can be utilized, but there are three common ones that are used in the IT Support use-case.

  • Longform (wiki)
  • Snippet (FAQs)
  • Video

Each of these content formats can have its moment in the sun depending on how they are used. Let’s examine the utility of each format.

Wiki with longform content

Wikis are a great vehicle for periodic learning. The structure of these repositories are really great for situations where employees are seeking a holistic understanding of a concept. The content of a wiki is often internally linked to other parts of the knowledge base to facilitate the connections between concepts, thereby improving the overall understanding of a broad topic.

Many companies use wikis to power all internal knowledge transfer, but really they don’t shine in situations where support seekers need rapid access to content to resolve issues fast. Can a wiki serve as a place to get fast answers to IT support questions? Yes of course, but because of the volume of content, it can be easy for support seekers to be distracted or give up upon seeing the volume of ancillary content. Therefore, an internal wiki is a sub-optimal solution for rapid issue resolution.

Snippets

When we talk about snippets, we mean knowledge stored in the most concise form possible. A snippet could really take any format that could be imagined, but the optimizing a snippet might have the following restrictions/features:

  • Eliminating text styling
  • Limiting the length of content
  • Make the title of the snippet a common question that is asked (FAQ) – eg. “How do I connect to the VPN?
  • The only additional information that could be included is the name of the author and date of capture (rudimentary content verification)

Snippets have the benefit of being the most structurally similar to the Question and Answer format of many IT support issues without the distraction of other content or the potential to “follow the breadcrumbs” to related, but unnecessary, content. Therefore, knowledge stored in snippet format is a desirable option for rapid issue resolution.

Video

Video has come to the forefront of instructional knowledge transfer in situations where there are numerous steps and a visual explanation is desired. This knowledge format might be a good candidate for support seekers that need to follow a number of detailed steps to resolve an IT issue, but that’s not common. Therefore in most cases, employees that are being blocked by an IT issue, just need it fixed and a video is not the best way to deliver that knowledge. So while video can be a very helpful medium for instructional knowledge transfer, it is a sub-optimal choice for rapid issue resolution.

Which knowledge format is best for IT support issue resolution?

In many ways, the snippet format is the optimal knowledge format for handling knowledge transfer in situations where fast resolution is a priority. If we consider the other two knowledge formats, longform and video, we realize that they are really better suited for learning and instruction – not urgent issue resolution. So when considering knowledge management solutions to solve problems that require fast, results-oriented resolution, choose a product that has the capability to store and deliver snippets to support seekers.

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