How SimplePractice Created a Culture Where Knowledge Management Matters
SimplePractice is a top-reviewed practice management platform, made for small business owners in the health and wellness space. We sat down with Laura Teichmiller, Knowledge Systems Manager, to talk about how she created a knowledge-centric culture at SimplePractice. Laura will be sharing tips for how to make knowledge a priority internally at our upcoming webinar, How to Create a Culture Where Knowledge Management Matters, on March 7, 2019 at 1pm ET. Register now to hear Laura’s full insights.
Thanks for joining us today, Laura! Can you walk us through your background and how you came to own knowledge management at SimplePractice?
Sure! My journey’s a little different: in college I pursued a degree in psychology and social welfare, and after graduation, I joined Teach For America. I taught with TFA for two years in Montgomery, Alabama, then was later recruited by KIPP LA to teach middle school here in LA. I knew that I wanted to be in education for about five years then get back to what I had devoted my college experience to: mental health and wellness. That’s when I found SimplePractice.
I was so excited to find a startup that was focused on making sure that health and wellness professionals could manage their practices as efficiently as possible. SimplePractice streamlines everything from billing and scheduling to finding new clients. There are so many great features that our team has carefully thought about to make sure that everything’s just right for our customers. It was a welcome change of pace being able to get back to what I had planned to focus my career on, especially at a company like SimplePractice. And I still get to use all of the skills that I built up during my time in education too - it was a perfect fit.
I joined SimplePractice first as a Product Specialist, which is essentially a customer service role that interacts with customers over the phone and via email, online classes, and demos. During that time I became familiar with our Help Center and internal knowledge base. We had Guru, and there were some things there, but it needed a lot of help and a lot of love. So when I could scrape together extra time, I would update those resources and try to make things better for our team. I never wanted to be in a position where I was trying to help our customers but struggling to find the right information, and I knew this was something that we needed to fix.
I kept building on that (and being politely annoying to my team and superiors) in order to make knowledge a priority. I made it clear that the more knowledge we build up, the quicker we’ll be able to help our customers and save them time. We don’t want people to have to spend too much time in our product, or with our resources even. We want them to be able to get what they need quickly so they can do the important work of tending to their clients.
I said, “As SimplePractice continues to grow, the internal and external knowledge bases will play an ever-increasing role in customer education, satisfaction, and success. By identifying and alleviating knowledge gaps, the knowledge manager will help spearhead a truly exceptional experience for our customers.”
– Laura Teichmiller
From there, I was promoted to Product and Knowledge Center Specialist. In this role, I still balanced some of my previous responsibilities with helping customers with their requests, but also worked on solidifying a plan for boosting our knowledge strategy. And now I’ve been Knowledge Systems Manager since October 2018. It’s been incredibly rewarding getting to focus on knowledge processes and making sure that I’m doing my part to ensure that we’re functioning like a well-oiled machine, while also getting to serve our customers alongside such a fun, dedicated, and inspiring team.
Very cool! So how did Guru factor into you making knowledge a priority at SimplePractice?
As I mentioned, we had Guru before I took on a knowledge role, but there really wasn’t much knowledge in there. On any given day, we were lucky if the trust score of our verified knowledge was 60%. I knew that Guru was extremely valuable – it was incredibly easy to use for everyone on our team. Thanks to the browser extension, no matter what someone is doing, what window they’ve got open, they can quickly access our information.
We started out with just our CS team using Guru, and we worked through the best processes for documenting knowledge and cataloging our information with that team, so we had a solid process in place. We knew that we wanted the whole company to be able to take advantage of Guru, but it was important to establish a process before bringing other teams into the mix. As of Q4 2018, we’ve rolled it out to the entire organization!
We now have over 400 pieces of knowledge in Guru, and I do my best to keep the trust score at 100%. (97% at the very worst!) We’re getting to a point where we don’t need to rely on just one person to know a certain thing, because everything is in Guru.
So now that everyone at SimplePractice has access to Guru, how has knowledge become a part of your culture?
Knowledge is crucial. We can’t do our jobs if we don’t know all of the components we need to answer customer requests or even interact with each other. We use Guru to document all of our processes, what we use different tools for, and how we collaborate with one another. All of our knowledge – internal and external – lives in Guru: our employee handbook, the nuances of our product that don’t necessarily belong in the Help Center, and anything else that may not be a day-to-day thing for every employee, like the process for submitting an expense report. Literally all of the things we need for our company to operate should either live in Guru or be linked through Guru. It saves us time to be able to access any knowledge we may need without having to interrupt another team member with questions.
In terms of saving time, you said you referenced the importance of saving customers time while making the case for prioritizing knowledge internally. How do you pass those time savings on to the end customer?
We can provide time savings and value by being able to quickly think on the fly, thanks to Guru. It’s almost like Guru does the thinking for you. If you know you need to find a certain piece of information, you can all but snap your fingers and it’s there when you need it. There are certain times on customer calls or in classes where specialists get out-there questions from a customer and are put on the spot, and it used to be pretty difficult for them to find the answer. We want to be able to provide that in-the-moment resource and get customers what they need quickly so they can be on their way.
Now that we’ve added Guru and more than doubled the documented knowledge we have, we can find those answers so quickly that our customers don’t even notice the beat. And especially given the health and wellness space that SimplePractice operates in, we want to show our customers that we are trustworthy. We need to have those answers as quickly as possible and present them as confidently as we can so that we can maintain the relationship we have with them and build on it too.
We can see through our customer satisfaction (CSAT) and net promoter scores (NPS) that it’s paying off to have knowledge easily accessible for everyone when they need it. Even if we’re not on the phone or doing a class, our first resolution time has gone down significantly since implementing Guru. We’ve been getting much faster in responding to customers and that has played a big role in those ratings. This approach has helped us maintain our customer satisfaction score at 96 for the past three months, and our NPS hasn’t dipped below 60.
You mentioned the importance of building customer relationships and promoting trust. How crucial is trusted knowledge for SimplePractice? Are those stakes different for your industry?
It’s incredibly crucial. Our mission is deeply rooted in helping our customers, and providing them with the power, flexibility, and peace of mind that allows them to focus on what matters most - their clients. To help provide our customers with peace of mind, we’ve gone above and beyond the standard security and privacy requirements to protect customer and client data on all of our robust web and mobile apps.
Given that we’re in the health and wellness space, there are state, national, and international laws and regulations that we must always be aware of and trained on to help our customers meet their compliance requirements. The stakes are very high for our customers, and we do everything we can to give them the tools they need to successfully and confidently manage their businesses under the unique regulations that govern them. Our customers must always know that they can trust us to maintain the integrity of their data, and that we operate with compliance top of mind. Each interaction they have with our product and with our team is an opportunity to build and maintain that critical trust, and we absolutely have to make sure that we address each of these opportunities with the care, attention, and confidence that we’re doing everything possible to help our customers.
We know we can address each customer with the care, attention, and confidence they deserve because we actively use Guru. We use it to keep track of the most up-to-date information we have around these different laws and regulations, to house our security training materials, to document clear examples about how to address different situations, and to record guidance and next steps to offer customers based on their individual needs. Being able to update, verify, and disseminate that information and documentation to our team quickly is critical, and Guru makes it easy to confidently stay on top of this knowledge.
So how have you managed to create a culture where knowledge matters not only to the frontline, customer-facing folks, but all the way up to the executive level?
Do you have advice for anyone trying to make knowledge a priority at their organization?
I’ll admit, it did take some time when I first started. I knew that knowledge was important, but my boss and I needed to get that buy-in all the way from the top. Last year we were actually looking to hire someone to manage our knowledge center and Guru account full time, but were having some trouble finding someone who was the right fit and who could also quickly learn our product and be up-to-speed creating resources.
That’s when I decided I wanted to own our knowledge full time. I started my campaign with a presentation showing all of the knowledge initiatives that I wanted to launch, and making it clear that I knew how vital this function would be for our team and for our customers. With careful planning, data reporting, and thoughtful conversations, I was able to show my team that I’m capable of taking on these responsibilities. I’m grateful to have earned the opportunity to do it and to get to grow professionally with supportive colleagues who always have our customers’ best interests in mind.
If you want to make knowledge a priority, you need three main things: a thoughtful strategy that can be adapted as your company grows, your team’s firm understanding that knowledge documentation significantly contributes to effectively being able to live out your mission each day, and the tools to make it happen - like Guru.
Thanks for chatting with us, Laura! Looking forward to hearing more about how you fostered a knowledge-centric culture at SimplePractice in our upcoming webinar.
Register now for our upcoming webinar with SimplePractice, How to Create a Culture Where Knowledge Management Matters__, coming up on March 7, 2019 at 1pm ET.