Selling the Benefits of a KCS Coaching Program

While a KCS Coaching program is a critical part of a successful KCS implementation, getting support from leadership for an adequate KCS Coaching program is often a challenge. At a recent KCS in Action session, Kendall Brenneise and Dave Thomas, Senior Managers in the Digital Services Team at F5, shared the process they went through to gain support from their service leadership for a KCS Coaching program. They also shared how they grew their KCS Coaching program to deliver outstanding benefits to the service organization. The results were so great that F5 is now implementing an enterprise-wide coaching program.

Kendall and Dave talked through how the Digital Services team leveraged a Strategic Framework to demonstrate to service leaders how the KCS activities of knowledge creation and reuse were critical to achieving their Key Performance Indicators (KPIs). They asserted that a KCS Coaching program was vital to getting F5 knowledge workers to properly search, link, modify, and create, and convinced leadership to provide resources for a KCS Coaching pilot.

The Digital Services team implemented supporting metrics as a part of the pilot to prove to Leadership the value they promised, and were able to provide data that easily justified their investment:

  1. They showed that knowledge workers who participated in regular KCS Coaching sessions searched more, linked more, and created more than those without a Coach.
  2. They experienced a significant increase in customer issues solved via self-service after implementing the KCS Coaching program, and were able to demonstrate that knowledge workers with a KCS Coach were creating knowledge that solved customers’ self-service issues at a substantially higher rate than those without a Coach.
  3. They showed that knowledge workers with a Coach were closing cases much faster than those without a Coach, and used this data to quantify the investment in KCS Coaches as a tiny fraction of the benefits the organization realized in reduced service costs through saving significant time.


This KCS in Action webinar was packed with a wealth of information and we had great questions and answers in the Q&A session at the end. We encourage you to view the recording below, access the PDF of the slides, and peruse the chat transcript below, where Kendall and Dave provided detailed answers to questions we did not have time to cover in our live session! 


Chat Highlights

Kendall Brenneise | F5 | Seattle: Good morning everyone! We’ve got LOTS to cover today 😉

Deborah Kennington: That’s where a lot of my organizational towers are at right now. They are wanting to keep their knowledge only visible to themselves.

Bill Decker: Is that coaching tool demo still available to view?
Kelly Murray | Consortium | Seattle: Coaching tool demo available to Consortium Members here!

Tomer Shoshan: How do you measure search?
Kendall Brenneise | F5 | Seattle: @Tomer – Search rate is frequency of support staff searching the knowledge base from a case they are working/own

Jessica Wu | Alation | SF Bay Area: Does the Link % represent % of cases with articles?
Kendall Brenneise | F5 | Seattle: @Jessica Wu – Correct. Links of articles to the cases that were worked

Answered after the live session:

Jessica Wu | Alation | SF Bay Area: Moving back a bit, how do you measure value %?
Nathan Love | Alteryx | Pittsburgh: How do you measure Value on previous graph?

We may be missing a bit of context from the conversation/original question so forgive us if this doesn’t answer what was asked (feel free to reach out to any of the F5ers in the Consortium Slack for clarification)…That being said, if the question was about:

  1. How we measure Self-Service Success?
    We follow almost exactly the same Self-Service Success guide in the KCS best practices guide. In particular, we look for what we call “Exits” in the raw data – In other words: the visit was not a bot, they spent more than 37 seconds on the article and ended their session at on that article. In short, they didn’t go on to another article or the case creation URL 😉
  2. How we measure Search, Link, Create %’s of the Coaches, Learners, and everyone else?
    In our tool stack we have the ability to record when a unique search was executed in our search engine that is integrated into the case as well as the frequency in which articles are linked or created from said case. That being said, we also have run Process Adherence Review to assess the accuracy of those links and the relevance of those creations.

lbrenes: Do you have the role of KDE? or a license for KDEs?
Kendall Brenneise | F5 | Seattle: @ilbrenes – We’re beginning to yes!

Tomer Shoshan: OK, so if the number is 50% it means they only search on 50% of the cases they own? If they searched once on a case and worked it for 2 weeks, will that still be counted as 1?
Manas Tripathi | F5 | Seattle, WA: @Tomer : Yes for both. We then also identify if they linked anything post search or create something. All %s are percentage of closed cases owned by the engineer.
Tom Marchant | F5 | Liberty Lake, WA:

  • the search % represents the percentage of cases that a search was performed from the case
  • the link % represents the percentage of cases that were linked to a knowledge article.
  • the number of searches or number of articles linked do not impact that percentage… meaning if an engineer searches 1 time for a case or 10 times for a case it is the same 1 case that is counted… same for number of articles linked to the case… if a case has 1 article linked to a case or 10 articles linked to a case it is still only counted as 1 case with a link…

Brian Gregory: is having a coach optional?
Kendall Brenneise | F5 | Seattle: @Brian Gregory – Yes it is

Anna Cononge, ADP, Atlanta: how do you deal with push back from leadership in regards to coaching? allowing sessions for the KM team to coach or functional groups coaches to coach their people? here at ADP we have a time period called Year End and although knowledge is still utilized the Coaching program itself fizzles for a month(ish) and sessions are on hold. How would you suggest (or if you have experience, how did you deal) to keep the program a priority?
Kendall Brenneise | F5 | Seattle: I’ll admit its always a balancing act. On one hand we of course have to prioritize being available to our customers. But on the other, we’ve realized that if we aren’t investing in ourselves we aren’t being our best selves for our customers. So much of this data you’re seeing today is how we articulate to our leadership that last point.

Deborah Kennington: is that per month, year?
Manas Tripathi | F5 | Seattle, WA: @Deb: overall avg over 2 FY
Kendall Brenneise | F5 | Seattle: @Deborah – that 264,264 is the cumulation of the last 2 years
Deborah Kennington: Thanks

Jessica Wu | Alation | SF Bay Area: How do you measure self-service success?
Manas Tripathi | F5 | Seattle, WA: self-service success is the percentage of visits that ended on an article view (and the visitor then ended their session)
Jessica Wu | Alation | SF Bay Area: 👍thanks Manas!

Arnfinn Austefjord, Consortium, Boulder CO: Here are some additional ways to measure Self-Service Success

Cheryl Wickwire: What tool are you using to analyze the activity on the Self-Service portal?
Manas Tripathi | F5 | Seattle, WA: previously, Google analytics. Now, Adobe analytics

Anna Cononge, ADP, Atlanta: thanks Kendall! another question for you: how much time did it take for your leadership to really buy in to the program?
Kendall Brenneise | F5 | Seattle: Good question. In the beginning we framed it as an ‘experiment’ to see what would happen. Leadership of those 6 started to personally notice an impact from talking to the people who were being coached in the way they showed up to work.
After that I’d estimate it took another 6 months before leadership was really willing to let us expand from 6 up to 30 Coaches. Then about 3 months after that we had expanded to upwards of 50

Libby Healy | Waters Corp | Remote (Maine, USA): Hi f5 team. Loving this conversation! Do you have any measures to show your most successful Coaches? I would like to have a Coach measure in 2023.
Manas Tripathi | F5 | Seattle, WA: yes, we do have some. however, we restrict those to be viewable only by the individual’s manager and the individual. we present the overall data to our leaders, and restrict individual metrics to the managers (and the individual)

Beth Haggett, (she/her): Great job Kendall and Dave and F5! So nice to see everyone here. Feel free to reach out about Coach Training anytime at! Happy Coaching!

From Jessica Wu | Alation | SF Bay Area: Piggy backing on your last comment Manas, how are the metrics only exposed to managers and individuals in Salesforce?
Manas Tripathi | F5 | Seattle, WA: Through tableau dashboard, that can identify the email of the person viewing the dashboard. we then query our data to show the employee hierarchy under the logged in user. Useful link for user functions here.
Kendall Brenneise | F5 | Seattle: We leverage tableau for showing this high of a level as well as a deeper dive thats personalized per manager/knowledge worker. Tableau offers a technique for checking who authenticated and only showing them the data that’s relevant to them

Andrew Mike | Red Hat to Everyone: I had a question — Are these KCS Coaches pulled from your support engineer pool? If so, how do you deal with the time/workload pressure as a result?
Kendall Brenneise | F5 | Seattle: Correct. Our leadership saw the success and have committed to the coaches that they can have/our workforce management team schedule 50% of their work week for coaching

Libby Healy | Waters Corp | Remote (Maine, USA): Hi Kendall- Will you give some examples of a Coach success metric?
Manas Tripathi | F5 | Seattle, WA: i can try some, and Kendall can definitely give more insights.

  1. how often do you meet your learner/s ?
  2. how is your learner/s doing in terms of the search, link and create activities. how do they compare to the global avgs and team avgs) ?
  3. learner/s avg time to license advancement, avg time to close cases, compared to global avgs

Nathan Love | Alteryx | Pittsburgh: So powerful to get those on the coalface of KCS and coaching adding their input. Gold
Michael Milano: love the interview idea…
Dave Stewart (Akamai): Agree on the interview idea – that has me thinking!

Answered after the live session:

Amanda Ocana – ADP: Are there any examples of trends or best practices you can highlight that have come out of the weekly coaching calibrations that have helped improve the program?

Yes a bunch in fact. A couple of examples:

  1. In the early launch of the program Coaches were having to use a personal notepad to record session events and they said it was hard to keep it all organized. Then we switched to excel. Then we realized from them that excel would limit us from getting coaching to the next level so from that feedback we built the coaching tool that we use at F5 that enables coaches and learners to capture coaching sessions and capture what the two went through in the GROW model. It also allows our team members to capture CSC and PAR records in the same tool.
  2. Another was Coaches in the beginning were having some success in getting their Coachees/Learners to attend sessions. It seemed to be easy for Learners that understood the potential Coaching would have for them, whereas others struggled to get attendance. Out of that came a few improvements:
    • A bi-weekly sync between Coaches and Managers got stood up in each of the regions where Coaches and Managers could discuss and align on what each of them needed from each other to be more successful.
    • The implementation of Managers and Leaders communicating to their people the importance of attending coaching sessions.
    • The implementation of MBOs on Managers to get their team members who had coaches to achieve attending at least 30% of the coaching sessions. (Note: We strive to get this number to 50% because as outlined in the presentation meeting at least once every other week (50%) is where we’re seeing the largest ROI.)
    • Coaches have started to spot trends and patterns in the types of cases and articles we see. Out of this some Hub/Resolution path articles have been created to fill those gaps, Search Engine improvements have been made to pin content for custoemers to increase self-service, Ideas have been submitted back to our Product Engineering teams to eliminate reoccurring issues – aka KDA. This has created a new demand for us that we are working on now which is the integration of Coaches and KDA/KDEs.

Answered after the live session:

Kurt Erickson | F5 | Seattle, WA: how do you deal with push back from leadership in regards to coaching?

We show them this same kind of data – both that on how Coaching impacts case management, how coaching impacts KCS, and lastly but most importantly share direct quotes/videos/interviews with people getting coached on how it’s impacting them. We’ve found that a combination of these things (Data and voice of the employees) usually brings clarity and alignment.

Answered after the live session:

Nathan Love | Alteryx | Pittsburgh: So is the data point just the coaching session itself? that it happened? or time of interview itself

Yes. That is correct. We’ve not found a need to go any deeper than that as we aim to lean in to Trusting the employees to use the time productively and wisely. Instead of going deeper we analyze/monitor for the outcomes we aim to see out of coaching instead. For example, License Advancement, Link Accuracy, and Create Relevance.

Answered after the live session:

Arun Vats: Hi f5 team..You guys showed some 40,000 articles..Isnt that too many ? I mean , what are you guys doing to take care of obsolete KBAs and Duplicate KBAs ?

With the breadth, depth, and complexity of our product stack its actually quite small. For example some KCS shops of our size are 2x that size. That being said, we do sometimes archive/delete articles as we discover if they are a duplicate or if there’s an opportunity to connect them with a hub article.

Jessica Wu | Alation | SF Bay Area: Are there any criteria an potential coach need to meet before being selected to be a coach?
Kendall Brenneise | F5 | Seattle: Yes. They attend our Coaching Training, as well as our tooling training. THEN they get the opportunity to say “Yes I’m in”. After that we do a light weight interview with them about WHY they want to be a Coach and their manager about HOW they are going to support them

Dave Stewart (Akamai): We are leaning towards evaluating KCS Coach “success” through the impact their coachees are having, instead of their throughput as Coaches (to avoid the rubber-stamp-syndrome)
Libby Healy | Waters Corp | Remote (Maine, USA): Dave Stewart- I would love to hear more about that!!

Jessica Wu | Alation | SF Bay Area to Everyone: 👍 thanks Kendall!
Dave Stewart (Akamai) to Everyone: Really useful prezzie – thanks!
Damon Delvechio | F5 to Everyone: Great Job!
Anna Cononge, ADP, Atlanta to Everyone: thank you so much! this was so great (:
Alina Weber | F5 to Everyone: Thanks team F5!
Sue van Gelder – Consultant – Charlotte to Everyone: Thank you!!
Ludwig Heil | Oracle to Everyone: Great update F5 team, congratulations and thanks a lot!
Deborah Kennington to Everyone: Thank for the session!!
Cheryl Wickwire to Everyone: Thanks for a great session! Really appreciate the insight!!
Jennifer Crippen | DB Kay & Associates to Everyone: excellent results, thanks for sharing!
Nathan Love | Alteryx | Pittsburgh to Everyone: Awesome session – thank you team!!!!
Nick to Everyone: Thanks for sharing Kendall and Dave, nice insights into your journey!
Jessica Wu | Alation | SF Bay Area to Everyone: 🙌 Thanks f5 team!
Ainsley (she/her) to Everyone: Thank you!
Andrew Mike | Red Hat to Everyone: Thanks Kendall and Dave!
Sander van der Moolen | VisionWillow | Netherlands to Everyone: 👏
mercy to Everyone: Great session, thanks all!
Libby Krause to Everyone: Thank you!
Kristoffer Westlake to Everyone: Thank you!
Mica Mendoza to Everyone: Thank you!
Brian Gregory to Everyone: great work! thank you
Patrick BAUER, HUG, Geneva Switzerland to Everyone: thank you

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