Knowledge management can benefit everyone from a local newsstand to a manufacturing firm. This guide explains the basic sources of knowledge available to your business, how you can best harness and exploit this information and how to create a knowledge strategy for your business. Using knowledge in your business isn't necessarily about thinking up clever new products and services, or devising ingenious new ways of selling them.
It's much more straightforward. Your understanding of what customers want, combined with your employees' know-how, can be regarded as your knowledge base. Using this knowledge in the right way can help you run your business more efficiently, decrease business risks and exploit opportunities to the full.
This is known as the knowledge advantage. Consider the measurable benefits of capturing and using knowledge more effectively. The following are all possible outcomes:. In order to manage the collection and exploitation of knowledge in your business, you should try to build a culture in which knowledge is valued across your business. One way to do this might be to offer incentives to staff who supply useful market news or suggest ways customers can be better served. You can use these knowledge management practices throughout your organisation to build better processes.
As part of your knowledge management, you should also make sure that any intellectual property that your business holds is protected. This means that you have the right to stop competitors from copying it - and also allows you to profit by licensing your business' knowledge. Protecting and exploiting your knowledge base will be more effective if you develop efficient systems for storing and retrieving information.
Your files - whether stored digitally or on paper - contain knowledge that you can use to make your products, services, systems and processes better and more customer-focused. Keep knowledge confidential. Your employment policies play a central role in this. For example, you might get staff to sign non-disclosure agreements also known as confidentiality agreements when they join the business as this ensures that they understand the importance of confidentiality from day one.
Employment contracts can be written to reasonably limit your employees' freedom to quit and work immediately for one of your rivals restraint of trade clauses or set up a competing business to yours in the vicinity restrictive covenants. It's essential to avoid important knowledge or skills being held by only a few people, because if they leave or retire that expertise could be lost to your business. If you have efficient ways of sharing knowledge across the business, it will be more widely used and its value and effectiveness are likely to be maximised.
Consider the best ways of sharing new ideas and information with your staff. You may already have regular meetings when you can brief employees and ask them to share ideas and best practice.
Developing Your Strategy
You could consider holding innovation workshops or brainstorming sessions at which staff are given the freedom and encouragement to think of ways in which the business could improve. It can also be a good idea to create a knowledge bank containing useful information and instructions on how to carry out key tasks. Putting this on an intranet is ideal as it will encourage staff to post news or suggestions. Technology alone isn't the answer to sharing knowledge - it has to be managed carefully so that information is channelled properly.
You may decide to appoint a senior manager as knowledge champion for your business. See the page in this guide on how to make knowledge central to your business. Remember that offering staff incentives to come up with suggestions for how the business can be improved is often an effective way of getting them to use and share knowledge. Don't forget the importance of training in spreading key knowledge, skills and best practice across your business. If you want to get the most from your business' knowledge, you need to take a strategic approach to discovering, collating and sharing it.
This is done via a knowledge strategy - a set of written guidelines to be applied across the business. If your strategy is to be effective, you must make sure your senior managers are committed to it and are fully aware of the benefits it can bring. Discuss with them the best ways of collecting and using knowledge. For more information see the page in this guide on how to make knowledge central to your business.
You should also identify the value of knowledge to your business. Think of ways you could exploit your knowledge for financial gain - perhaps by gaining a larger market share, developing new products, or selling or licensing your protected intellectual property to others. Ensure this fits in with your overall business plan.
Information technology offers powerful tools to help you gain and make the best use of knowledge. Some of the systems can be complex to set up and time-consuming to maintain.
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You need to choose systems that fit with your business and that will improve it without becoming a burden. You may find it useful to consult an IT specialist. Our information is provided free of charge and is intended to be helpful to a large range of UK-based gov. Because of its general nature the information cannot be taken as comprehensive and should never be used as a substitute for legal or professional advice.
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Click on one of the two buttons to access the content you wish to view. Guide Importance of knowledge to a growing business Share on:. What is knowledge in a business? Basic sources of knowledge Exploiting your knowledge Make knowledge central to your business Sharing knowledge across your business Create a knowledge strategy for your business Using information technology to gain and manage knowledge.
You've probably done market research into the need for your business to exist in the first place. If nobody wanted what you're selling, you wouldn't be trading.
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You can tailor this market knowledge to target particular customers with specific types of product or service. Your files of documents from and about customers and suppliers hold a wealth of information which can be invaluable both in developing new products or services and improving existing ones. Your employees are likely to have skills and experience that you can use as an asset.
Having staff who are knowledgeable can be invaluable in setting you apart from competitors. People are different and want to be engaged with differently. Only through customer personas and journey mapping did I build better customer relationships. Armed with a thorough understanding of your Ideal Customer Profile, your marketing team can create campaigns and messaging that speaks directly to those ideal customers, and your sales team can step in to help qualify or disqualify a prospect before selling to them.
We build out Success Plans very early and we have an outcome-focused sales process. When done strategically, publishing free content is a great way to attract customers to your business as they are searching for information about your product, service, or industry. When you educate your prospects before you sell to them, it equips them with the knowledge that increases their chances of success.
HootSuite, a social media management and marketing dashboard, for example, offers several social media marketing courses at HootSuite Academy. These free online courses help to teach their target audience how to use social media effectively. In the beginning of a relationship, customers are trying to educate themselves, get smarter and make the best decisions. Social proof is a powerful motivator.
When a prospect can see proof that other people have purchased and achieved success with your product, they are more likely to purchase it. Use social proof to your advantage by showing off your successful customers. Publishing case studies about your customers is a great way to accomplish this. Testimonials especially video testimonials are also very effective. Self-Publishing School , for example, is an online training company that teaches first-time authors how to write and self-publish their first book.
Here are some strategies you can use during your sales process to help qualify your customers upfront and set them up for success with your product. One of the greatest advantages of knowing who your ideal customers are is knowing who they are not.
The Strategizing Process
Collaborate with your salespeople to develop a thorough qualification process for new customers. This ensures that when a sales rep signs up a customer, they are doing so because they truly believe that Typeform is the right product for them, and not because they will earn a commission. As a result, the sales team is very focused on bringing in the right type of customer, building trust, and delivering value to potential customers during the sales process.
If your customers are able to buy from you without speaking to a salesperson, include enough information in your product descriptions and sales pages to help them qualify themselves. Everyone needs to apply for our programs and go through a selection process.
We do this because we want to be confident that our product can help solve their problem. At CTS Service Solution, for example, they often discover during this process that their product is actually not the appropriate solution for their customer. By disqualifying them upfront, they help to prevent valuable time and resources from being spent trying to help someone that should not have become their customer in the first place.
Often, customers are not sure what their specific objectives are. By helping them define their focus, we can steer them towards the solution that is most beneficial. For example, most companies approach implementation from a checklist of what we need to get done to declare victory.
Instead, think of what a customer expects to accomplish during implementation. Onboarding is the process of welcoming a new customer and helping them to familiarize themselves with and start using your product. With B2B or service-based businesses, there is a key window of time after someone buys from you where they are waiting on you to take them by the hand and walk them forward.
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The more you personalized the onboarding experience is for your customer, the better. Clarify their goals upfront, and then provide them with training that is specific to their goals. Personalizing the onboarding process is one of the go-to customer success strategies used by the Customer Success team at Moz.
The walkthroughs and webinars we deliver to help customers get started with Moz contribute to lowering churn rates and increasing customer lifetime value. We also build in-app tours and messaging campaigns to proactively educate customers. In many cases, personalizing the onboarding experience for a customer can be automated. When a new customer gets immediate value from your product, they are more likely to continue using it. At Thinkific, we know that if a new customer creates at least one lesson for their online course, they are more likely to create and publish a complete online course than those who do not.
Knowing this, we encourage all new customers to upload content to their course and create their first lesson, and we show them how easy it is to do this. When a new customer gets value from your product, no matter how small, it creates positive momentum. The opposite is also true. If a customer begins using your product and experiences frustration, they might just give up using your product entirely.
They need to feel confident about the journey they are about to embark on before they sign the dotted line. Once they do, the path needs to start quickly and maintain velocity through the customer lifecycle. That means staying ahead of the customer and anticipating their needs. Identify all of the steps that your customer needs to take in order to achieve their desired result with your product. Articulating these steps to your customer upfront provides them with a clearly defined and measurable pathway to achieving success, and it also helps them track their progress as they complete these steps.
Make sure you provide the necessary training and resources to implement each step. There should be no confusion as to how to use your product to achieve their desired result. A simple, yet highly effective way to show your customers that you care about their success is to respond to them as quickly as possible when they ask for help.
According to a recent report by SuperOffice :. This is good news. This means that responding to your customer support inquiries quickly will likely be a pleasant surprise to your customers. We recommend responding to all customer support emails as quickly as you can within the first hour, if possible. Look for opportunities to educate your customers, or even challenge them with a new way of thinking when appropriate.
Your primary job is to push your client, challenge them, and get them to think, in order to make them more successful. DealDash , for example, requires every employee in the company to speak with a customer at least once per week. During these weekly phone calls, employees ask for feedback and try to find out what they can improve to make the DealDash experience better for their customers.
The feedback received is then taken into account by the rest of the team, which often results in changes to the product. In some cases, someone in your company will spot a problem with your product before one of your customers does. When that happens, we recommend fixing the problem before a customer discovers and complains about it. Proactively reaching out to customers is a great way re-engage customers that are potentially unhappy or on the verge of quietly disappearing, never to buy from you again. Gainsight, a customer success management software, for example, uses their own software to create a Health Score for all of their customers.
At any given time, they are able to predict the likelihood of a cancellation based on specific data and indicators. When they notice signs of an inactive or unhappy customer, they take proactive steps to engage and support them. Instead of catching them by surprise by not reminding them of their upcoming renewal, use this opportunity to reward them for renewing their subscription.
We use our own product to set up early warning systems and methodically mitigate signs of churn. This helps our Customer Success Managers keep an eye on their entire customer portfolio and use their time efficiently and proactively. Feedback loops are a great way to collect feedback from customers, learn more about their needs, and improve your products and customer success strategy accordingly. They can also be completely automated, resulting in a consistent influx of valuable feedback from your customers.
Most feedback loops are set up using automated emails that are triggered by a specific event such as closing a support ticket, purchasing a product, finishing a course, etc. HubSpot Academy , for example, sent me the following email shortly after completing one of their certification programs. AdSkills, a company that sells online advertising courses, has taken it one step further by rewarding their customers a discount on their next purchase in exchange for their feedback:.
We have an email which goes out 30 days after the sale, which is triggered by our shopping cart. The way users qualify for that coupon is to simply jump on a video call with our team. We include a Calendly link in the 30 day email, allowing users to schedule their own calls with our team. For ongoing services and subscription-based products, consider scheduling periodic check-ins with your customers.
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Scheduling periodic check-ins with them can help you monitor their changing needs and identify additional ways to serve them that are not yet being utilized. For periodic services, stay in contact, provide free information or even information products, and make sure to check in once in awhile. Silence is a retention killer. Let your customers know that you appreciate their suggestions. Just as the needs of your business will change over time, so too will the needs of your customers. It needs to be explicitly discussed regularly. Customers that spend the most money with you and require the least amount of support, for example, will likely have different characteristics than customers that spend the least amount of money and require the most amount of support.
As you collect this data, you can start to organize your customers into specific segments. Since different segments will require different levels of support, you can use this data to refine your customer success strategy and allocate resources more effectively. At Typeform, for example, they segment their customers based on retention rates. This helps them to understand which type of customers have a higher lifetime value compared to other types of customers.
These customer profiles are relayed to their marketing team, who will then adapt their marketing initiatives to attract more customers that match that profile.
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