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The Subject Matter Expert Dilemma

If you are a subject matter expert (SME) in a Sales organization, BPO etc, you would related to this Dilemma. You became a SME because you could save yourself from distraction and were able to give a lot of time to the area of your expertise. However, since you became an SME, most of your time goes away from your core work and your are inundated with lots of queries from others Alright, you would still abide to the call of the duty and answer those queries over email, but most of those queries would be repeated queries or FAQs.  

In what industries such dilemma exists ?

I have personally seen this happening in many sales enablement and training organization, managing queries from the fleet on street becomes on of the major areas of worry. I have seen this happen in Insurance Companies, Pharma companies to name a few  



Email is one of the point of failures

Many a times, people write to the subject matter expert over emails, and the email inbox is flooded with many such repeated queries. These queries popping over in front of SME, create a pressure and at times they are involved in some other business task and as a result few of these queries getting missed. We can go further and put Emails to full guilty, but I guess the point has been made.  

If not Email, then what is the solution ?

So if Email is not cutting it for such situation what are the options. One thing is for sure that such expert queries should sit outside of an email system. Its fine if notifications are generated whenever such queries arrive for SME, but handling of such queries should be outside of the email system. We explored various solutions, and here were the contenders  
  1. Use a full blow ticketing system – Its a good solution, but such things so far have found a good place for customer support kind of paradigm. In one words its an oversized solution
  2. Use moving walls like slack, MS team – Its nice and people are using it but they are all based on “Moving wall of information” paradigm, which is not very good at retaining information
  3. Discussion forum – Another failed dinosauras, which dies under its own weight. The more information you put into discussion forum, the less its searchable. I am sure you must have seen stinkers from discussion forum elderlies, asking you to read the FAQ first before posting !
Bitten by above issues and having the power of LMS software product team, we solved this by creating “Ask Expert” module Its midway between Email and Full Blown Ticketing system              

What is Ask Expert

The only change that we bring is that rather than someone opening an email thread, the person would use the ask expert form and punch in his / her query One of the experts, would see the notification and opens the query. The SME can put a right response to the querying user. Now what are the advantages  
  1. SME does not have to change context or collect / search the unresolved queries but can answer it from one place – ask expert panel
  2. SME upon getting a FAQ type query, would be able to copy and paste earlier responses and would not have to rewrite the whole thing again
  3. SME can also see the aging analysis, that would ensure that all of the old queries are also answered within time limit

What is this module part of LMS (Learning Management System)

Now this is an interesting subject for a debate. One would think that such module should be part of KMS (knowledge management system) or TMS (Ticket Management System) or any such *MS Before putting a case for why it should be in LMS, lets look at one striking fact. If I were to ask you, when a certain question about your product / services is based asked a lot what does it mean. Think about it for a second. As far as I can think it could have two possible interpretations  
  1. Whatever product / services the query is about, is either asked a lot in the field and its popular
  2. Or knowledge about certain product features / services / SOP is not clear to folks
If its case 1, glory be to you ! If its case 2, then you have discovered a potential knowledge gap and area where a training can be created. What better place than LMS to identify and remediate such training needs.  
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