A computer manufacturer was unable to answer 50% of the calls to its help desk. The projection for adequate coverage just to answer the phone and follow a script would have required an almost 200% increase in staff. There were not enough suitable people in the geographic area of the call center to support this level of staffing. The Knowledge Management alternative was to convert the commonly used scripts into structured dialogs between the Internet application and the customer. These questions ranged from “Is the computer plugged in?” to “Is the compact disk inserted with the shiny side down?” to “Please download device driver ABC.v01 and follow the instructions to install it on your machine.” The projected cost for the KM alternative was an 80% increase in staffing that included the people to build and maintain the structured dialogs. An additional advantage was that the structured dialogs could be created and maintained by employees or contractors who were not required to be in the immediate vicinity of the call center.
This KM alternative was very popular with the general management of the company, especially because it cost so much less than the traditional alternative. However, the corporate culture rewarded managers with large workforces, so the people who were responsible for implementing this solution and operating would have lost prestige if it had been successful. It failed.
Philosophical note on cost savings through structured dialogs–
The people who are going to feel the effects of the cost savings through smaller group sizes or less responsibility need to have some compensatory reason to be successful.