Content vs. Style – What Should You Recommend?

How do you toe the line between content and style?Content and style go hand-in-hand considerably in knowledge management practices. Not only do KM professionals seek to make the most up-to-date and accurate information available to their employees and customers; they also strive to put forth grammatically correct and style-conscious content. The experts at Style Matters can help you with knowledge management design and tools.

Maintaining an aura of professionalism toward customers and fellow employees should always include accurate, concise, and correct content style. Many companies also provide a style guide for their knowledge management tools, unbeknownst to other employees in the company who may be providing information without being directly involved in knowledge management.

Whose idea was style anyway?

Sometimes these same customers and employees can have their own ideas as to what the content and style should be for a specific knowledge management tool. Therefore, they may have the option to deliver feedback or recommendations to a KM manager or employee in an attempt to better serve what the customer or employee needs to view for their product or service. These types of feedback guides could be as small as correcting a simple punctuation mark, or, in some instances, as large as a complete content overhaul of an outdated product or service.

While it may be a necessary tool to deliver the most current and accurate content, recommending a certain style of writing can sometimes be detrimental to the overall concept of knowledge management, especially if a company or service has its own style guide that all employees must adhere to. It is difficult for a direct KM employee to reject feedback of this nature for the fear of alienating an employee or making them hesitant to deliver future feedback. Style guidelines are what they are, though, so oftentimes, difficult but conclusive style decisions have to be made.

The right time to correct something was yesterday

KM employees, especially customer service agents and direct KM managers, need to work hand-in-hand to ensure that consumers and colleagues are getting the right information about their product in a timely fashion. In this “satisfaction now” age, a change to a product or a company campaign needs to be made public almost as soon as it is approved by management.

If any simple instruction or material is unclear to a customer or has the wrong steps outlined to solve an issue or improve their overall experience, the so-called “customer guarantee” and trust between company and consumers could be severed both short-term and long-term. Moreover, if customer service agents do not have the correct content available to them for service calls and troubleshooting issues, they could be indirectly putting their own position in jeopardy should they give out the wrong information. This could lead to the potential for customer kickbacks or refunds, which can be detriments to a successful business operation.

Not to be taken lightly today or tomorrow

It is entirely possible that style issues could exist in certain knowledge management tools. A missing comma or disagreement of tense certainly can be overlooked, especially if a deadline for releasing information is tight. At all times, these possibilities should definitely be pointed out and corrected by agents or KM employees in order to provide the best content and grammatical accuracy. Content and style feedback should be given consideration, as these tips could boost the company’s service capability and the customer’s positive experience.

But the style guide is one that should always be the ultimate source of guidance that all employees should follow. And recommending anything that goes against the preferred style of a company could lead to KM discrepancies and trickle down effects to the business, where everyone should be on the same page to enhance the ultimate customer service and experience.

Charlie Gagliardi has written for local newspapers, national television magazines, digital resources, and self-preservation for the past 15 years. He graduated from Temple University in 1999 with a B.A in Journalism and lives in South Philadelphia with his wife, daughter, and sibling kittens. Charlie enjoys bowling, blackjack, coffee, holidays, and procrastination while remaining a lifelong, diehard Flyers and Phillies fan. He currently works for StyleMatters as a Technical Writer in Center City and is a firm believer that he will make retirement along the beach a peaceful reality someday.

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