Customer Knowledge Management Process Model

By | February 9, 2018

cuses particularly on aspects of collaboration and knowledge sharing when individuals interact.

  • The goal of knowledge development supports the business process in defining current gaps that require the future creation or acquisition of To assess knowledge gaps on a process level, knowledge dissemination and transparency are required, because when com- bined they offer an overview of present customer knowledge.
  • The goal of knowledge efficiency supports the business process in limiting the available knowledge to the knowledge crucial for Knowledge efficiency facilitates the success- ful application of knowledge in CRM processes. However, it is not worthwhile until the other goals have been reached, as a lack of knowledge will always have a greater effect than an overload, although in some cases it might lead to the same result.


While allowing process owners the direct articulation of their knowledge needs, the four KM goals do not provide guidelines for managing customer knowledge based on its relevant charac- teristics and additional relations. The CKM model therefore is enhanced through the integration of the four aspects content, competence, collaboration, and composition which are introduced in the process perspective. These aspects were derived by analyzing existing KM models [for de- tails, see Gebert et al. (2003) and Riempp (2003)]. They will be further reinforced by the action research examples we introduce in the next section.

To comprehensively cover the customer knowledge management approach, the model would also have to encompass the layers of strategy and information systems. We chose to omit these layers in the graphical representation to avoid excessive complexity but will explain them in this section.


On a strategy level, companies need to determine how customer knowledge management can support business goals and processes and then use these as guidelines for designing the customer knowledge management processes and performance indicators. Performance measurement links the strategy and process layers by providing indicators that enable the evaluation of goal fulfill- ment by the process. Typically, these indicators measure the efficiency of the process, in the sense of how efficiently the necessary output is created, as well as the effectiveness, which de- pends on how well the process output matches the requirements. By determining desired values for the individual indicators, management can evaluate actual results and take appropriate mea- sures to correct undesirable developments.

The process level, our main focus in this chapter, is derived as follows: Like the SECI model of Nonaka/Takeuchi (Nonaka and Konno 1998), the CKM process model is based on the fact that there are two types of knowledge, implicit (or tacit) and explicit. According to Polanyi, who introduced the concept of tacit knowledge (Polanyi 1966), each individual pos- sesses an amount of implicit knowledge which influences the ability to articulate and there- fore explicate and create knowledge. Implicit knowledge includes past experiences and influences the perception of the environment. However, explicit and implicit knowledge as such are not separable from the particular individual possessing it. Therefore, we term it the knowledge aspect “competence.” As a consequence, the organization can only directly man- age explicated knowledge in the form of media such as text or images, which we term the knowledge aspect “content.” Content is part of the business processes and exists indepen- dently  of individuals.

Similar to the revised SECI model of Hedlund and Nonaka (1993), the CKM process model also introduces two aspects that take into account how knowledge is created, disseminated, and used within an organization. As a consequence, the model contains elements of both the episte- mological view and the ontological view with an agent dimension. The ontological view is repre- sented by the two aspects of “collaboration” and “composition.” Collaboration deals with the creation and dissemination of knowledge among few individuals, for example, in project teams. The knowledge aspect composition, on the other hand, deals with the dissemination and usage of knowledge among a large number of individuals. An important issue for composition is helping people find explicated knowledge—for example, in enterprise portals.

The four knowledge aspects deliver services that support the CRM subprocesses. This sometimes requires support processes, such as managing content or competency information from creation to application in a life cycle. The aspects of collaboration and composition serves as an infrastructure that supports the provision of knowledge to business processes while not being a process itself. Furthermore, as proposed by the business engineering ap- proach (see Österle and Blessing 2003), all knowledge aspects need to be supported by infor- mation systems that deliver specific functions for each aspect. The aspect content typically requires the use of content management or document management systems. The aspect com- petence makes use of expertise directories as well as skill management or e-learning sys- tems. E-mail, group information tools, and instant messaging systems are typical functions that support the aspect of collaboration. Finally, the aspect of composition, which primarily deals with search and navigation uses systems such as knowledge mining systems, personal- ization, taxonomy management systems, and knowledge maps. While it is beyond the scope of this chapter to illustrate the use of all these systems to support CRM subprocesses, we will focus on three cases which are part of our action research work and provide insights on how to improve performance by employing the four aspects of knowledge and supporting infor- mation systems.

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