Woodmen of the World was consolidating the operations of three divisions and needed a solid knowledge management foundation.

Woodmen of the World

Focus on users creates knowledge advocates.

Business Challenge

Woodmen of the World was consolidating the operations of three divisions and needed a solid knowledge management foundation for the more than 200 core operations associates working at its home office.


The firm used five best practices to gain the support of senior management and front line users for a new consolidated approach to knowledge management for support service.


  • Process efficiencies have led to a 10% reduction in staffing
  • Error rates have dropped, sometimes by as much as 50% for certain categories of questions
  • Unacceptable call volume has decreased by 76%

Woodmen of the World was consolidating the operations of three divisions and needed a solid knowledge management foundation for the more than 200 core operations associates working at its home office.

The ‘quarter-century club’ personnel had most procedures memorized and knew the processes without having to look them up. It was all in their heads.”- Carol Krick, Manager of Core, Operations Support, Woodmen of the World

The Moxie Difference

Situation: Woodmen Of The World Needed To Consolidate Its Approach To Knowledge Management

Knowledge management for customer service delivers results. For customer-facing web self-service, a good knowledge base deflects calls and can alert customers to product or service issues and updated content. For agents, a good knowledge base helps standardize the answers they deliver to customers across all communication channels, reduces handle time, and increases first-contact resolution.

However, attaining these results relies on several factors: deploying technology that is suitable for an organization; deploying processes to create and maintain knowledge; properly staffing the program with knowledge workers; and socializing the benefits so that knowledge management becomes an integral part of a customer service agent’s job.

Woodmen of the World, a fraternal benefit society that provides insurance protection and financial security through insurance and investment products, was facing a major reorganization: It was merging three departments, each with its own procedures and policies, into one unit. This restructuring was to coincide with the launch of a new knowledge base intended to document the shared procedures within the organization. In addition, individuals in each of the original three departments in the core operations organization had amassed a large amount of institutional knowledge that had to be documented so that it would be available to new hires. Carol Krick, manager of core operations support, described the problem: “The ‘quarter-century club’ personnel had most procedures memorized and knew the processes without having to look them up. It was all in their heads.”

Best Practice: Woodmen Of The World Focused On A Knowledge Culture

Woodmen of the World had a classic knowledge management problem: combining three divisions within the company into one. All of the information needed for customer support was either in personal desktop folders, paper manuals, or associates’ heads, and was often duplicated in multiple systems. In order to unify the three divisions, the firm had to create a central repository for policies, procedures, compliance issues, and other general information. The ultimate goal was to provide access to a single information repository of standardized answers to make associates more efficient and customers more satisfied with the customer service experience. The firm used five best practices that focused on gaining and sustaining management and employee buy-in to ensure success in achieving its goals:

  • Start with management buy-in for the knowledge initiative. Woodmen of the World approached the project with care and partnered with Moxie, which helped the company understand the return on investment from a knowledge management program. With this data, Woodmen of the World secured an executive management sponsor who took ownership of the initiative from a long-term staffing and resource perspective.
  • Define clear processes and roles for the knowledge management team. The Woodmen of the World team used a traditional author-and-review workflow for content creation and maintenance. The knowledge team was comprised of three knowledge base administrators, three authors, several reviewers, a manager, and an IT administrator. This clear focus on roles left no uncertainty as to who was responsible for creating and maintaining content.
  • Populate the knowledge base with clean content. Woodmen of the World had more than 10,000 pieces of content within the three divisions and initially thought that it would have to port everything over to the new knowledge base. But instead of porting this content blindly, the team reviewed each item and discovered duplication of content and lack of uniformity of voice, terminology, and documented processes. They reached consensus on what terms to use and the overall procedures that the company would adopt going forward and only ported the reworked content to the knowledge base.
  • Focus on change management. Several months prior to rolling out the knowledge base, Woodmen of the World sent a series of emails to users regarding the value of the solution. In addition, the knowledge team discussed and demonstrated the knowledge base in many of the associates’ meetings in the four months leading up to the launch. The company also held hands-on classroom training sessions for associates. The day of the launch, information cards with contact information for help with the tool were passed out to all associates as a means of engaging them.
  • Focus on reinforcing the message. Woodmen of the World engaged in ongoing efforts to increase user adoption, especially among the associates who had been on the job the longest.The company hosted roundtables every other month to address knowledge base usage,surveyed associates for feedback, and engaged in one-on-one conversations with associates to understand individual opinions. In addition, associates’ performance is tied to their use of and contributions to the knowledge base.

Next Steps: Woodmen Of The World Plans To Extend The Reach Of Knowledge

Woodmen of the World relied on Moxie’s best practices to roll out knowledge management to more than 200 individuals in four user groups who use personalized portals to access specific knowledge tailored to their job function. For example, only associates in the claims and underwriting departments can access those particular portals. There is also a general portal that contains information available to all departments and a customer service portal designed specifically for the needs of contact center agents. Woodmen of the World plans to extend the reach of knowledge management within the company by:

  • Empowering field agents with knowledge. Because of the success of the initial deployment, Woodmen of the World plans to extend access to the knowledge management system to 1,200 field agents, allowing them to access content that is specific to their needs.
  • Moving all content to the knowledge management tool. The company still uses training binders containing several process documents to onboard new employees. The knowledge team and others are actively changing this process by referring to specific articles in the knowledge base during training instead of copying them and placing them in the binders. Woodmen of the World can single-source these processes across all organizations that need to access them.
  • Continuing to drive adoption of the knowledge management tool. Some employees continue to rely on content in paper manuals. The knowledge team will continue to work with these individuals on a one-on-one basis to emphasize that they can only find relevant, updated content in the knowledge management tool.

Best Practice Results: Woodmen Of The World Reports Quantifiable Results

The benefits that Woodmen of the World achieved after deploying Moxie Knowledge include faster inquiry resolution times, improved accuracy of information delivered, reduced call volume, and greater customer satisfaction with the information received. Quantifiable results from the combination of the knowledge management project with concurrent company initiatives include:

  • Staffing reduction due to process efficiency. With knowledge management, associates can get their work done faster and more effectively, which has increased their overall job satisfaction. This has also ld to a nearly 10% reduction in the number of employees needed to get the job done.
  • Decreased error rates. Associates access trusted content in the knowledge base, which has reduced errors in the information communicated to customers. Customer service error rates have decreased by as much as 50% for some categories of questions.
  • Improved call quality. Call quality has improved markedly; the number of unacceptable calls as determined by supervisor call monitoring has fallen by 76%. The company attributes this to the delivery of more consistent answers to customers, in part as a result of knowledge base usage.


How to apply Woodmen of the World’s organizational change best practices:

  • Seek an executive sponsor for a knowledge management initiative. Behind every successful knowledge management program is an executive who supports the initiative with staffing and funding. This executive champions the benefits of the knowledge program at the executive and board levels and is able to tie the knowledge team’s activities to outcomes in customer satisfaction, loyalty, and operational efficiencies that align with the company’s key performance indicators.
  • Focus on establishing a knowledge management culture. A knowledge management culture develops because the support organization realizes the benefits of a knowledge program by seeing movement in key operational metrics. These benefits include shorter contact handle times, increased first-contact closure rates, and better customer satisfaction. However, the support organization also realizes that knowledge management makes it easier for them to get their job done. Trusted knowledge lets support associates quickly access answers to customer questions and allows them to focus on helping customers instead of trying locate the correct answer. This also helps new support associates feel less frustrated and more comfortable, which helps them ramp up quickly.

Forrester Research, Inc. (Nasdaq: FORR) is an independent research company that provides pragmatic and forward-thinking advice to global leaders in business and technology. Forrester works with professionals in 19 key roles at major companies providing proprietary research, customer insight, consulting, events, and peer-to-peer executive programs. For more than 27 years, Forrester has been making IT, marketing, and technology industry leaders successful every day. For more information, visit www.forrester.com.

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