Magazine article CRM Magazine

Market Watch: Improving Self-Service Results with Search Capabilities

Magazine article CRM Magazine

Market Watch: Improving Self-Service Results with Search Capabilities

Article excerpt

When it comes to self-service, search is starting to take over.

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In the past self-service often meant clicking through static Web pages to find the desired information. But with searching becoming the preferred method of finding information on the Web, many companies are including search capabilities on their sites.

Often this means using knowledge-base software to give customers access to the same information that companies provide to their service reps and other staff. Organizations can use one source of information to assist customer support and help desk representatives with solving incoming customer questions, to support sales and marketing teams, and to allow customers to get answers via online self-service.

Chris Selland, managing director at Reservoir Partners, says that in a time when Google has become a verb, search is a natural for knowledge bases and self-service. "Most people are very comfortable with search," Selland says. "And search engines make knowledge bases even more powerful. But the most important thing about search is that nearly everybody knows how to use it."

David Daniels, a Jupiter Research analyst, applauds the power of search in self-service, but warns that companies need to monitor its effectiveness. He notes that users often get frustrated if basic keyword searching does not give them specific results, and suggests that natural-language searching is more intuitive. Jupiter's research indicates that customer dissatisfaction with self-service search jumped to 49 percent in 2003, from 31 percent in 2002.

Still, Selland claims that although knowledge bases with search capabilities are complex and not without kinks, the value they deliver is "worth their weight in gold."

The leaders in providing knowledge-base solutions include Kana, Kanisa, Primus, RightNow Technologies, ServiceWare, and SkyWire.

Selland credits RightNow, which offers a hosted knowledge-base service, as helping to spark interest in hosted knowledge solutions. "They are the Salesforce.com of the customer service industry," Selland says. "They offer high value at low risk, and for most customers it's very cost effective."

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