Fighting outdated tribal knowledge in sales and support teams

When businesses start out, support and sales teams (like any other team) are closely knit. The teams are small and most folks know the ins and outs of the product being sold. Everyone stays on top of new product updates by playing with the latest features, reading documentation or just being quizzed in the hallway by another team member.

When these team members work together, they create knowledge that’s shared within their tribe. They know what works really well in the product and what doesn’t, what pitch to use when on a sales call and what’s the best solution to provide when a certain problem is reported by customers. Even if someone doesn’t know the direct answer, they’d most certainly know an expert in the tribe who can help them out.

This is tribal knowledge. In most companies, tribal knowledge is not written down. It’s created every day. People acquire tribal knowledge by working together, talking about problems, sharing insights and know-how when solving those problems together.

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You cannot scale without documentation

If you’re building a business that grows like crazy, documentation should be a culture trait you should promote and look for in the people you hire. I realized this when we worked on a major revamp of Freshdesk’s product interface in 2017.

The team worked hard for close to a year on this project, and we thought we had a great launch in 2017, but soon discovered hundreds of features that we missed out. Our very own customer support team had to tell us about features that were part of the older interface, and we scrambled to build them later. A lot of times, we learned about product behaviour only after our customers told us about how much they missed them in the newer interface.

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