Our slogan, ‘Empower Your Employees,’ reflects our firm belief that businesses thrive when their employees are happy. But who are the faces behind VisionWillow? What drives their motivation, and what fuels their passion? Our #GetToKnowVisionWillow series seeks to unveil these stories. This time, we’re spotlighting Sander van der Moolen, Head of Training and one of our certified Knowledge-Centered Service® trainers.

What is your role?

I wear several hats at VisionWillow. Formally, I’m the Head of Training. Practically, I’m the principal consultant & trainer for Knowledge-Centered Service® (KCS®) and Intelligent Swarming methodologies. I also oversee our Dutch VisionWillow office. Most of my time is dedicated to engaging with our KCS® customers, both online and on-site.

Can you take us through your KCS® journey?

I often share this story at the beginning of our workshops. My background is in IT support, starting as a first-line support agent and eventually moving through various roles in support. Implementing knowledge management has always been a challenge throughout my career in support. We invested a lot of time and money in setting up a knowledge base, only to find it becoming outdated, cluttered, and more or less forgotten as we shifted our focus to solving tickets. Nobody had time for knowledge management.

When an ITSM consultancy firm invited me to help set up and configure knowledge base platforms for their clients, my initial reaction was: “Cool, but what about a good process to ensure they actually use the knowledge base?”. Because without a solid process, the customers would essentially be wasting their money.

My search for an effective knowledge management practice was fruitless in The Netherlands and Europe. Eventually, I discovered the Consortium for Service Innovation in the US, which had developed a comprehensive knowledge management practice known as Knowledge-Centered Service®. Well, it was more than a practice; it’s a whole methodology! And it was everything I was looking for.

I obtained my KCS® Practices certification and later became one of Europe’s first, possibly the first, certified KCS® Trainers. In 2015, I founded my own business centered exclusively on KCS®. The business flourished, which led to the merger with VisionWillow in 2021.

Why should organizations use a knowledge management practice?

For small to mid-sized organizations, knowledge management is vital for maintaining continuity and consistent customer service. It’s important to minimize dependency on individuals. Because there’s a knowledge gap every time they’re absent due to vacation or illness. Not to mention if they decide to leave the company.

For larger companies, including multinational enterprises, a solid knowledge management process ensures global consistency. Solve an issue once and reuse the solution anywhere in the world as often as needed. No more reinventing the wheel. New employees are onboarded in less than half the time when a high-quality knowledge base is in place.

No matter the organization’s size, self-service knowledge will reduce repeating issues at the service desk. It will also, and more importantly, offer solutions to customers who might otherwise never contact the service desk. The potential for this indirect support is immense!

What is the difference between conducting workshops now versus before COVID-19? And are there any learnings?

The main difference is that companies are now more hesitant to invest in on-site training, heavily favoring online training. We happily provide both options, of course. Personally, I would much rather deliver on-site training vs. online for several reasons: higher quality and pass rates in exams, greater interactivity, and it’s simply more fun!

A key takeaway is the importance of making online training engaging and adding more exercises, quizzes, and frequent short breaks. Encouraging participants to turn on their cameras also helps, as it prevents speaking into a black screen and provides valuable non-verbal feedback for the trainer.

Be prepared that it takes a lot more energy for the trainer and participants to go through half-day, full-day, or multiple-day online training.

What are your three best tips for doing KCS®?

  • Integrate KCS® with your primary processes. Not just in the workflow and tooling but also in the organization’s vocabulary. We like to say that KCS® becomes the way in which we solve customer issues. Developing new terminology for your organization where you combine your ticket process and KCS® makes the adoption of KCS® much easier since you no longer talk about each process separately.
  • Use quality reviews for the knowledge articles and for the process be what they’re supposed to be: coaching tools. If you’re asking how many checks we should do in order to have a reliable score, you’re, in my humble opinion, not using them as coaching tools. Coaches should aim to help colleagues reach their full potential through learning and self-determination. If you prefer to use quality reviews for management purposes, allocate that task to a Quality Assurance team and let coaches focus on coaching.
  • Support your support managers. They need specialized training tailored to their roles and should be included in your coaching program. It’s crucial to help them transition from managing transaction-focused teams to leading knowledge-centered service teams.

What do you enjoy doing the most outside of work?

Now that my boys are grown up (sort of; I really tried my best), I have time for my two major hobbies: Sailing and high-end audio.

I know that you’re a big movie fan. Name your three best movie quotes

“Multipass!” – Leeloo, The Fifth Element (1997)

“What, would you say, you DO here?” – Bob Slydell, Office Space (1999)

“I picked the wrong week to stop sniffing glue.” – Steve McCroskey, Airplane! (1980)