Enterprise Search in Practice: A Presentation of Survey Results and Areas for Expert Guidance

Enterprise search in practice presentation has two main focuses. First, to present some interesting and sometimes rather contradicting findings from the Enterprise Search and Findability survey 2012. Second, to introduce an holistic approach to implementing search technology involving five different aspects that are all important to succeed and to reach findability rather than just the ability to search.

Presented at Gilbane Conference 2012 in Boston USA on the 28th of November by Mattias Ellison.

Approaches for Building a Business Case for Enterprise Search

Approaches for Identifying Information Access Needs and to Build a Business Case for Enterprise Search and Findability

We have defined a number of alternative approaches to identify the need and value of search-driven findability to support an organisation or a specific process. In other words, different methods to build a business case for enterprise search in a specific organization or process.

Task oriented

Analysing information access needs in relation to specific work task within a business process (by utilizing e.g. the method developed by Byström/Strindberg or the Customer Carewords method).

Process oriented

Mapping the process flow of sequential and dependent (value-adding) activities and the related information access needs, Analysing the dependencies/accessibility of information systems in the different activities (e.g. by using some kind of Business Process Modeling, like the Astrakan-method).

Decision oriented

Identifying and analysing the decision points and the related information access needs within a process.

Risk oriented

Analysing situations within a process or for decision points where the right information was not available. Or even worse if there only was old and unvalid information available? What would have been the outcome of the situation if the desired/needed information had been available? How can we avoid for this scenario to be repeated? Inspired by Lynda Moulton at LWM Technology Services and Martin White of IntranetFocus.

Effect oriented

Determine the desired effects from search-driven findability and define measuring point to follow up the effects over time. Includes also identification of the related target groups/personas and their information access needs to be fulfilled for the effects to be reached (based on the InUse method and previous work at Ericsson (Case Study) and Forsmark (Case Study). An enhanced variant of this method is currently being developed in a project at Chalmers.

Our ambition is to use these methods to help organisations identify information access needs and findability barriers and to help motivate search investments. The analysis could for example be performed by our Findability Business Consultants as part of an in-depth findability review focusing on either an existing application or a specific business process.

Findability, a holistic approach to implementing search technology

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Findability Dimensions

Successful search project does not only involve technology and having the most skilled developers, it is not enough. To utilise the full potential and receive return on search technology investments there are five main dimensions (or perspectives) that all need to be in focus when developing search solutions, and that require additional competencies to be involved.

This holistic approach to implementing search technology we call Findability by Findwise.

Findability in Customer Service Search

We have previously introduced Findability by Findwise, involving solutions that make optimal use of search technology to support and strengthen the business of our customers. In a series of blog posts we will present how findability solutions can be deployed within different parts of your organisation. Initially I will focus on how efficient implementation of search technology, by a good customer service search, can improve your customer service offering.

Ultimately, the goal of most customer service interactions is to increase customer satisfaction and thereby improve customer retention in a cost efficient way. In times when the amount of available information increases by the minute, one key success factor is to provide both customer service agents and customers with quick and easy access to relevant information. A findability solution based on state-of-the-art search technology and optimised along the findability dimensions will fuel your customer service search offering in two primary ways:

  1. Improved support to customer service agents
  2. Improved online customer service

Example of customer service search

Improved support to customer service agents

While more traditional customer service interaction solutions tend to be based on a knowledge database, that needs to be built and maintained, a Findability solution is more dynamic in its nature and is based on a dynamic search index created by the already existing data residing in corporate systems. In other words, the solution makes optimal use of existing information and systems to support customer service agents in accessing relevant information. The positive effects are illustrated by the case study below.

Case study: Telecom call centre

Findwise implemented a findability solution at a call centre for a large Swedish mobile operator. The solution introduced the powerful ability to search in the most important information source, which previously only had been accessible via tree-structure navigation.

The graph below presents the result of a test performed by the call centre agents to evaluate the new search function. The test encompassed a number of tasks in which the agents compared using the search functionality to the traditional navigation, in terms of both level of difficulty and time consumption in finding desired information. The graph shows that the agents found the search function very helpful, making the information both easier and less time consuming to find.

 The graph shows that the agents found the customer service search function very helpful, making the information both easier and less time consuming to find.

The most evident effects of improved support and information access via search technology are:

  • Reduced handling time
  • Higher first time resolution
  • Reduced Tier-2 escalations
  • Increased customer service agent satisfaction
  • Increased agent productivity
  • Less training needed to introduce new agents

In a white paper, Google has also pinpointed, and quantified, the above benefits of implementing a Findability solution in call centre operations, in this case fuelled by the Google Search Appliance (GSA) search platform. For example, Google states that handling time can be reduced by up to 20% on average and that is it possible to save up to 25% on training costs for each new call centre agent. The full article is available here.

Improved online customer service

Naturally a Findability solution can also improve your online customer service offering. Below I have outlined three solution elements that will help drive customer self-service and thereby deflect issues from being forwarded to the customer service organisation.

Improved search functionality

As in the case of agent support, a powerful search functionality that provides relevant information from all required sources in a user-friendly way will increase the ability of customer self-resolution.

Personalised user interface

Using the power of an enterprise search platform you can customise the self-service experience, in a dynamical way, to the individual and the incident to simplify and speed up the process of finding answers.

Dynamic FAQ

Self-service can also be fuelled by providing a relevant and updated FAQ section. The information can be made dynamic and include answers to the most recent questions by using both query log information, i.e. what users are searching for, and call centre comments as input to the FAQs.

For many enterprises, self-service is seen as the solution that can provide customers with the support they need while significantly reducing customer service costs. However, self-service must do more than just cut costs. When customers perceive self-service as simply a means to shift interaction costs onto their shoulders, it can reduce customer satisfaction. Customers need a self-service experience that provides them with higher levels of interaction convenience and information availability, faster issue resolution and more personalised interactions. A Findability solution including the above elements provides that.

The most evident effects of an improved online customer service offering gained from the use of search technology and search analytics are:

  • Less number of incoming calls/e-mails
  • Increased customer satisfaction
  • Increased browser- to-buyer conversion rate
  • Increased knowledge of user interests and behaviour (to fuel additional sales)

Visit our website to learn more about findability solutions that make our customers truly benefit from state-of-the-art search technology.

Findability by Findwise

Being the hosts of “The Search and Findability blog”, we believe it is time to define and explain what Findwise means by these terms and how they relate.

“Findability” is not a new term or concept. As stated on Wikipedia, Peter Morville is often credited for having introduced the term and it is used in different areas related to the quality of being locatable or navigable either in terms of finding information in the digital world or geographical locations.

“Search” is, at least in the world of IT, commonly associated with either Google on the web, or a search box in the corner of the company Intranet or other websites. Most people have positive experiences from searching with Google on the web but rather poor, sometimes even terrible, experiences from searching at company websites and in internal systems and applications.

Simple search box

The primary focus of Findwise is to improve the experience and benefits from using search technology in the corporate setting. By itself, we don’t believe that the term “Search” or even “Enterprise Search” fully reflects this focus as it limits the scope of search technology to being “just” the search box in the website corner, which often provides undesirable results. From experience, we know that modern search technology can be utilised in multiple ways to fulfil the needs of an organisation to make information accessible both to their employees and customers. The search box is only one way. Therefore, to support and explain our aims and focus in relation to search technology, we have defined the concept of “Findability by Findwise”.

Findability by Findwise expands the area of search and value of search technology by taking a holistic approach to the challenge of creating business value from internal and external information assets. Findability by Findwise is all about maximising the customer business value gained from search technology investments. Making sure that search technology is implemented and utilised to best support and strengthen the business processes and help the organisation to reach its business goals.

The value generated by the Findability solution could be both:

  • Internal; Improving employee efficiency and their ability to truly benefit from existing information assets and previous investments in various systems to store and structure information.
  • External; Making sure stakeholders can access the information they need in order to become or remain profitable customers.

From the statement above, it is easy to understand that to gain the desired effects and value of search technology investments, it is not enough only to focus on and master the actual technology. Or as stated in an AIIM report from 2008:

“Findability is more about a well-defined and executed strategy model than it is about technology.”

AIIM Market IQ Intelligence Quarterly Q2 2008

Therefore, a Findability solution by Findwise creates true customer business value, i.e. it makes desired information accessible to internal or external stakeholders, by;

BOTH using the full potential of search technology,
AND focusing on the four other critical dimensions of Findability:

  • Business – The use of search technology should support and leverage the existing business processes.
  • Users – The solution must be designed and tailored to fit the needs and capabilities of the users.
  • Information – The quality and structure of existing and newly produced information is an important success factor of the solution.
  • Organisation – The organisation must establish a process to govern the solution and maintain Findability for future needs.

We have chosen the symbol of a flower to illustrate the concept and dimensions of Findability by Findwise:

Findability by Findwise

In other words, the beauty and health of the Findability Flower™ can be likened to the extent to which search technology is utilised to support and leverage the organisation’s business needs and goals. That is what Findability by Findwise is all about.

Visit our website to read more about Findability by Findwise and how we work to create Findability solutions that make our customers truly benefit from state-of-the-art search technology.