USDA CONTACT CENTER CENTER OF EXCELLENCE
SERVICE TO THE CITIZEN AWARD WINNER
DR. LIZ HERMAN
DIRECTOR, KNOWLEDGE MANAGEMENT
LEAD, CONTACT CENTER OF EXCELLENCE
GENERAL SERVICES ADMINISTRATION
As part of USDA’s efforts to meet the mandate of Secretary Perdue to be the most efficient, effective and cost effective agency in the government, Liz Herman of Senture and Sandra Dickinson of GSA led the effort to create an ASK USDA knowledge management effort as part of the GSA Center of Excellence for Contact Centers. As a result of merging four existing knowledge bases, Liz was able to direct the migration, harmonization (including style guide development, etc.) and resultant configuration leveraging existing content from USDA’s “Ask The Expert”, “Ask Karen”, Ask FSIS and “Ask FSA” platforms. In addition, after migrating the data from those existing knowledge bases, they collected policy and procedure documentation and organized the submitted content. Liz and her team ensured that every article was reviewed for accuracy and consistency. The resulting knowledge management system resulted in 4,600 publicly available articles for USDA customers.
Dr. Herman’s approach to attacking the Ask USDA Knowledge Base project included phases of Discovery and Design where blueprinting and solutioning were done working hand in glove with the USDA sub agencies such as Food Safety, Natural Resources and Environment, Departmental Administration and Rural Development. Selecting and managing a team of Knowledge Analysts, Liz directed subsequent Build & Test initiatives for all mission areas coordinating efforts of Mission Area SMEs, USDA Leadership and OneUSDA Contact Center Staff.
After capturing the understanding of the comprehensive inventory of Knowledge, Customer Access Points, agent access and use of knowledge, and the identification of KM stakeholders within the agency mission areas, Liz and her team were able to centralize four knowledge bases into a single source of truth for farmers, ranchers, and producers expanding self-help options and providing Ask USDA CSRs with content for use across phone, email, and chat. She created a knowledge management governance plan with an accompanying style guide enabling USDA to maintain one voice thereby consolidating a fragmented customer service landscape.
Dr. Herman is a well known expert in knowledge management and has served as a CMS compliance officer and the policy and professional development director guiding the 1-800-Medicare policy, training, and content, and CSR Tier 3 teams through implementation of both the Medicare Prescription Drug, Improvement, and Modernization Act and the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. Her work supported improvement of the Citizen Experience for Medicare beneficiaries through increased agent knowledge, driving First Call Resolution, Improved Quality of Service and self-service options leveraging consistency in information provided through sustainable Knowledge Management processes.
Sandra Dickinson was the government lead for the AskUSDA effort. She was responsible for working hand-in-hand with Dr. Herman, to oversee the entire Contact Center CoE effort for USDA, which included negotiating the politics of GSA and USDA to achieve the overall goals of the effort. She championed the knowledge management efforts knowing how important that element was to the overall success of the Contact Center CoE. She also keenly understood the intersection of knowledge management and change management and worked to ensure that change management principles were implemented and knowledge management SMEs were engaged and enthusiastic about contributing content to the knowledge base. She worked tirelessly with the team to ensure the change management messages were carefully crafted. Every word mattered and Sandra dedicated time and energy to making those messages meaningful.