Posted tagged ‘enterprise search’

3 Ways Search Is Saving Customer Support: View the OnDemand Webinar

March 5, 2015

Yesterday I had the pleasure of co-presenting a webinar with one of my very favorite speakers, Diane Berry, Senior VP of Market Strategy for Coveo. Diane was a past winner of our TechFutures event and is always a dynamic speaker with great content. We had big attendance for yesterday’s webinar, and the OnDemand version is now available for viewing. I thought I would give you a quick look at what we talked about, and you can view the OnDemand event at your leisure.

Enterprise search is increasingly a cornerstone of a company’s knowledge management strategy. During the webinar, I talked about what I call “the three realities of enterprise search:”

  • A single knowledgebase for all information is unrealistic. Valuable content is stored across the enterprise—and in people’s heads. Yes, a knowledgebase for capturing tacit knowledge is critical, but that is only one source of information. Online documentation, product manuals, release notes, forum conversations, etc., are all critical to support technicians and customers. Companies need search technology to search everyplace at once, not just a single repository.
  • Knowing the right place to look for information is impossible—especially for newer employees. Surveys tell us that TSIA members have a dozen or more applications and content sources that they routinely access to support customers, and knowing where to look to find what you need can take years to learn. Unified search pulls from every content source, every time; the actual location of the content is irrelevant.
  • Filtering search results to find exactly what you need is a necessity. We know that 75% of users never scroll past the first page of search results. Not only do you need relevancy analysis (which we discuss in the webinar), but you also need filtering options to allow knowledge workers, and customers performing self-service, to find exactly what they need without rephrasing their search over and over again.

Diane and I then went through the list of “The Three Ways Search is Saving Customer Support,” and based on my inquiry conversations, that is no exaggeration. How is enterprise search saving support? Here are the three points we discussed:

#1. Search turns your community or customer portal into a self-service, case deflection engine.

I’ve heard companies afraid to use the word “deflection,” thinking it implies they don’t want to talk to customers. This is simply not the case. My 2015 Social Support Survey shows that 46% of customers PREFER self-service, and only 11% prefer phone. Giving customers a dynamic and sucessful self-service experience is exactly what they want. And it is a win-win, since fully burdened support calls for B2B companies can be $700 or more, and self-service sessions typically cost less than $10.

#2. Search gives employees insight from across  your entire enterprise ecosystem.

One of the hot trends I’m seeing is imbedded, dynamic, contextual search. Imbedded because it sits within your CRM or other system of record, so no additional searches or windows are required. Dynamic because search results constantly update in real time, depending on what you type. And contextual, because the results are filtered based on the case title and notes you type in, as well as the value of any custom fields such as product or failing component. In this way, employees can see a list of related content from across the enterprise: related cases, knowledge articles, documentation, forum conversations, as well as lists of experts on the topic in case you need to escalate.

#3. Search analytics identify trends, knowledge gaps, and optimize relevance.

A couple of weeks ago I had an opportunity to spend an hour with Diane and her analytics team focusing on how analytics can improve the success of a knowledge management program. I was so impressed with the conversation that now I’m writing a new research report, “Leveraging Analytics to Boost KM Success: Proactive Analytics Automate the Knowledge Maintenance Process,” to be published later this month. In particular, analytics can help proactively identify content gaps, improve relevance scores, and recognize content consumption trends. In the webinar, Diane provides examples and screen shots to illustrate these.

Here is the link to view the OnDemand version of the webinar:

The webinar is only 30 minutes, and we did receive some interesting questions during the Q&A period at the end. Be sure to follow the link and watch the webinar when you have time.

And as always, thanks for reading!


Top Knowledge Management Trends for 2014

February 27, 2014

Today I co-presented a webinar with longtime partner Coveo, “Top Knowledge Management Trends of 2014.” We had a huge response to the event, and the largest live audience I’ve seen for a webinar in quite a while. KM is always a hot topic with TSIA members, but interest continues to grow as we see knowledge strategies moving beyond customer support to include field service, professional services, managed services, and more. So what are the biggest trends in KM today? Based on TSIA data and member conversations, here are the top 3 trends I highlighted in today’s webinar:


  • Legacy search tools failing. My colleague Ken O’Reilly completed TSIA’s first “knowledge management practices” survey in December, and the results will be published in the next couple of weeks. I shared a couple of proof points in the webinar today to illustrate how existing KM implementations aren’t keeping up. The lion’s share of respondents to the survey have had both their customer-facing and employee-facing KM platforms in place for 4 or more years, which should indicate they are mature, highly adopted, and delivering value. But, when asked to rate their current KM implementations, the largest percent of respondents indicated the worst option: “Needs a lot of work.” So why are these mature implementations failing? In my experience, inadequate search is often at the root of the problem. Legacy search tools don’t do well outside a proprietary knowledgebase, and according to my annual tech survey, SharePoint is now the top installed knowledgebase tool used by service organizations. Not a specialized tool built for support knowledge, a generic content warehouse. With customers and employees now expecting to search content anywhere in the enterprise, in any format, requirements for search have evolved dramatically. Today, companies need a search tool that provides context, intelligence, dynamic taxonomies, and multiple filtering options.
  • Enterprise collaboration. I have a report in editing right now calling enterprise collaboration “the third wave of knowledge management.” Another factoid from the recent KM survey is that less than half of customer issues are resolved by content in the knowledgebase. If you don’t have the answer at your fingertips, the most direct route to the answer is to ask an expert. I’m seeing huge planned spending on enterprise collaboration tools to enable this. But the missing element–and this is a BIG missing element–is how to know who the expert is to ask. This is where expertise management comes in. I have blogged before about the importance of expertise management, and I’m hoping more companies begin to include requirements for this in their KM/enterprise search plans. The same search platform that can analyze all the content in your enterprise to create dynamic taxonomies, can also create relationships between content topics and people. So, if you are trouble shooting an install script, the system can prompt you with the developer who wrote the install script, the Q&A person who tested it, and the Tech Pubs person who documented it. Armed with this information, you know exactly who to reach out to for an answer.
  • Mobility. I tend to refer to this trend as “The Connected Customer” and “The Connected Technician.” The mass adoption of smartphones and tablets has revolutionized the way we retrieve and interact with information. While the majority of mobile devices may be originally designed for consumers, we bring our consumer experiences into the workplace with us. Today’s customers and employees expect–if not demand–that they have ubiquitous access to corporate content at any time, from any place, using any device. But to enable this, you need the right mobile infrastructure. When shopping for KM/search technology, include requirements in three areas. First, the system should support all devices, not just Droid or Apple or RIM. Ideally, this means HTML5. Secondly, the system should offer optimized displays for mobile devices–the same user interface that works fine on a desktop web browser will not work effectively on a 2″x 3″ smartphone screen. And third, the system should be able to retrieve and display a wide variety of formats. I’ve heard complaints from companies whose mobile search tools displayed some file types like ASCII characters–completely unreadable.


For those of you who missed today’s webinar, here’s a link to the OnDemand version: It is only 30 minutes, and worth a listen if you are interested in what’s new with KM. Thanks to everyone who tuned in today. We didn’t have time to answer audience questions, so if you asked a question during the live event, we will be following up with you afterwards.

And as always, thanks for reading!

Interview with Partner Advisory Board Member Diane Berry, SVP Marketing and Communications, Coveo: Big Data

March 1, 2012

TSIA has recently launched our very first Partner Advisory Board, consisting of technology, service provider and consulting partners in the TSIA partner network. This is a great opportunity for us to stay current on marketing and spending trends in other industries, as well as track emerging best practices in our own industry. We have an impressive list of partners on the board; here is a link to view the complete list.

I will be bringing you interviews with our Partner Advisory Board members, a few at a time. Today’s interview is with Diane Berry, SVP Marketing and Communications, Coveo.  Coveo Insight Solutions™ leverage the full breadth and depth of information available across your organization, whether it resides in systems behind the firewall or in the cloud, to increase enterprise innovation, competitiveness and agility.

John Ragsdale: I’d like to extend a warm welcome to Diane Berry, Senior Vice President of Marketing and Communication for Coveo, and thanks for participating in this blog interview. Could I ask you to start with a little background on Coveo?

Diane Berry: Coveo is an Insight Solutions software company with a new radically new approach to information integration. We help organizations get a much higher return on collective knowledge and information, and place the customer at the center of operations to facilitate sales, marketing, customer service and product engineering.   In effect, by aligning information better, we help companies establish one-to-one relationships with customers and prospects to increase sales, build customer loyalty and build more innovative products that reflect customer/marketplace needs.

As you know, with all the talk about “big data,” there is tremendous value in information that is never realized.  Companies are overwhelmed by unstructured information both within the enterprise and in social media. Coveo unlocks the value in that information with our technology, and we make it highly consumable for the users, whether that user is a customer service agent, a marketing manager, or the customer. Our customers share a common belief: “waiting for the perfectly integrated system is a losing game!”

Our unified indexing technology, at a very high level, creates structure within information where none exists, across systems and across customer interaction channels. Our platform connects with and pulls information securely from basically all enterprise and social systems to create a virtual integration layer that is always up to date. In this Unified Index, we enrich the data, consolidate and correlate it, and discover information relationships to help users become, as we say, “insightfull.”  From here, the information is consumable via role-based Insight Consoles.   If you think of, say,  Yahoo! Finance on the Internet, you get an idea of the type of mashups that we provide, in real-time, both on company websites and within the enterprise systems and the social media—however, an important difference is that the information is instantly assembled in alignment with the context of the user. The interface, in effect, “knows” the user and serves up personalized information.

John: I first became aware of Coveo as an innovative enterprise search vendor, but clearly you have expanded your platform beyond just search. But let me start with search, since poor search technology is at the root of many of problems we have today with customers, call center agents and support technicians all struggling to find the right answer amid an ocean of corporate content. How does Coveo solve this problem?

Diane:  Yes we do start with an Enterprise Search 2.0-approach to consolidating and correlating information from basically any system, whether that is within the enterprise, in the cloud, or even in social media. This is our Unified Indexing Technology. You can think about it as a real-time, virtual information integration.  The system is always indexing the latest changes from each system, so the agent—or the customer—always has the latest, contextually relevant information in front of him or her.  With the most recent version of our platform, Coveo 7.0, we’ve introduced Multi-Channel Text Analytics on top of the Unified Index. This creates information relationships that help agents solve challenges quickly and easily, and can also helps customers  to solve even complex issues via self-service.  There is a growing swell in a new technology category – Insight Solutions. Today, that is what we bring to market – solutions that help agents, executives and customers gain insight from the unprecedented—and still growing—mountains of unstructured and structured data in enterprise and social systems.

John: I fear the challenges you are solving are getting worse every year. According to my annual technology survey, 21% of technology support groups are using generic data warehouses like Lotus Notes and MS Sharepoint instead of a specialized knowledge base tool, up from 0% in 2007. What I’m hearing is that CIOs are pushing generic tools down the throats of business users, and as a result, content is being dumped into these repositories with little or no indexing or search capabilities. As one member told me, Sharepoint was a “black hole of content” for them—they could enter all the data they wanted, but they would never retrieve it again. This seems to make sophisticated search a “must have” for more companies. Is this something you are seeing in the field?

Diane:  Well, we do see this happening, and yet we see that even with sophisticated knowledge bases, companies face the same problems. It is difficult to get the information you need, because it never only resides in a “system of record.” (And yes, as you say, sometimes these “systems of record” – such as SharePoint – don’t easily give up what they have ingested….) Over the past decade, regardless of the promise of integrated solution suites, information systems have more than doubled within enterprises. For one of our customers, we are indexing 74 different systems – that is CA Technologies, which as we are all aware has grown significantly through acquisition. So this is not just about the large amounts of data, it is also about different types of data; the geometric growth of data is a strong challenge in and of itself.   All of our customers have either a knowledge base or generic data warehouse as you point out, or both in many cases, and in a strong M&A environment there may be multiples of both, plus CRM(s), plus issue defect databases, plus PLM systems…..add on top of all of this multiple customer and developer communities, plus social media such as Twitter, and you have an unbelievable mess for agents to sort through to find the answers they need.

John: I just had a conversation with a member yesterday about launching a “voice of the customer” program, and I’m happy to see interest brewing on the B2B side to improve the customer experience. Clearly social media is raising the stakes for this, with companies ignoring customer sentiment at their peril. Coveo had a major announcement last fall that will have a huge impact on analyzing customer conversations: Coveo 7.0 with Multi-Channel Text Analytics. Could you talk about this new product?

Diane: We are very excited about Coveo 7.0, as I mentioned earlier. The implication for VOTC programs is huge – and, I think, finally takes them beyond surveys to the combination of survey, multi-channel interactions, social media (including community) interaction, all correlated with their products, history and cases.  Equally as important, with Coveo, companies easily share this information across silos, so engineering and product development use it as they develop roadmaps and products, sales & marketing use it as they talk with customers and market to them. It is a virtuous circle of sorts.  This is possible because the platform is completely modular and extensible. I mentioned CA Technologies earlier – CA has rolled out Coveo to its customers via the company’s self-service portal as well as all of its employees.  These employees benefit from role-based access to a common, unified index of information across the company, and placing the customer squarely in the center of operations.  I think customer centricity, which this approach enables, is often the end goal of VOTC programs.

John: With the economy still questionable, clearly companies are not investing in new technology unless they understand where the return on investment comes from. I’ve seen some impressive case studies from your customers, including some TSIA members, on the actual benefits from implementing Coveo. Could you explain where the ROI usually comes from? What sort of metrics do you see impacted?

Diane:  Yes the economy remains questionable; however we are seeing growth in our customer base, as well as plans for growth as they develop solutions that enable their customers to save time and money—particularly with the movement to cloud-based solutions. I think you’ll see that this applies both to companies in growth mode as well as in savings mode.  I was with one of our customers a couple of weeks ago, who is currently rolling out Coveo to its customer service teams, and as a second phase will provide it to their customers for self-service. They are developing new cloud-based offerings which they believe will increase their market share considerably, and quickly. And yet they want to double capacity without adding headcount in their customer support operations—and without impacting customer satisfaction. So, basically, they want to double their capacity. Coveo will enable them to do this, first by helping their agents to become much more effective and efficient, and secondly through self-service, by helping them to deflect calls for even complex issues.

As another example, CA Technologies uses Coveo as the backbone for pulling together information across the enterprise.  With Coveo, CA connects 74 different systems, including customer communities.  If we take just customer service, where they serve approximately 150,000 customers, CA has achieved tremendous results over the past couple of years using Coveo Insight Solutions: Here are some stats shown by CA during a recent Gartner webinar:

  • Overall Satisfaction:  Up 40 Basis points
  • Knowledge Base Content Satisfaction:  Up 90 Basis points
  • Online Usability:  Up 50 Basis points
  • Time To Resolution:  Down 15%
  • % Opened Online:  Up 41%
  • Customer service capacity increase:  Up 8%
  • Customer service staff reduction:  Down 5%

So they were able to increase capacity, reduce costs, and increase customer satisfaction at the same time – until now, these were diametrically opposed goals. Here is a link to a YouTube video of CA talking about their savings.

John: Thank you for being here, and thank you for agreeing to serve on our inaugural Partner Advisory Board!

Diane:  Thank you John, it is always a pleasure, and it is an honor to be involved in the TSIA Partner Advisory Board.

Knowledge Anywhere Strategies Raise the Stakes for Search: Webcast Thursday

September 21, 2011

One of the major trends I’m tracking for 2012 is the evolution of knowledge management from a departmental problem to a corporate problem. With CIO’s all on alert that baby boomers are retiring over the next 3 years, taking with them the lion’s share of corporate wisdom, knowledge management is hotter than ever. But what I’m hearing from TSIA members is that the CIO doesn’t want to fund departmental solutions, they want to implement an enterprise KM system. As a proofpoint, enterprise content management tools like EMC’s Documentum is now showing up on my survey on KM products in place, and MS Sharepoint is now the most installed knowledgebase by TSIA members, outside of using the KM tools in

The challenge here is how to locate and leverage content wherever it is stored across the enterprise: knowledgebases, communities, databases, applications, CRM customer history, billing and payment systems, EVERYTHING!

If this sounds a like a challenge you are facing, please attend our webcast this Thursday, “How Leading Companies Power Customer Service with Insight Through the Confluence of Enterprise Search 2.0, Knowledge Management.” I will be interviewing a panel consisting of Coveo, an enterprise search vendor whose motto is “Stop moving data,” and Tina Yarovsky, Vice President, Online Support Services,Trading Technologies International, Inc., who has gone through the process of implementing enterprise search and had dramatic improvements to support operations as a result.

Another key trend for 2012 is increased mobility, with mobile tools and applications driving field service automation and education, as well as productivity tools for support and professional services. Search is a big element of this trend as well, letting both customers and employees have access to content from anywhere at anytime on a smartphone or other mobile device. This ‘just in time’ knowledge access is already proving valuable with field employees, and giving customers ubiquitous access to content is certainly a way to improve lackluster self-service results. Coveo was one of the first search vendors to offer a mobile product, and I will touch on this as well during the webcast.

Hope to see you Thursday for a great webcast!

Intelligent Search Market Overview Launches March 29th

March 23, 2010

My latest research opus, a Market Overview of Intelligent Search, is about to see the light of day. I kicked off this project last fall and thought it would be a 2 month project.  7 months later, I’m finally delivering the report. What took so long?  Good question.

It turns out that navigating the vendor landscape for search tools was even more complicated than I thought. A full third of my TSIA member inquiry volume last year related to search technology, and short lists of vendors began to include both knowledgebase and self-service search experts AND enterprise search specialists. As I started digging, these two worlds are also merging with an emerging search market: social search.

Merging Markets Create Intelligent Search

I started by surveying a dozen search vendors that spanned these three markets to find out what was “bleeding edge” in their world, and I compiled a list of the 20 most innovative selection criteria for search, spread across several categories such as displaying search results, content maintenance, integration, scalability, deployment model, and product breadth. Next, I had each vendor fill out a form indicating which of these 20 features they offered, along with details on prepackaged integrations and scalability. The following search vendors/TSIA partners participated in the study: Attensity, Baynote, Clarabridge, Consona CRM, Coveo, InQuira, KANA, nGenera CIM, Q-go, and RightNow.

The report, which addresses search needs of technical support, professional services and field service operations, goes live to all TSIA corporate members on Monday, March 29th. This Thursday I am doing a members only webcast to preview my findings, which includes the matrix of features by vendor. To register for the webcast or for more information, TSIA members should access the link for their service discipline:

In my 2009 Member Technology Survey, intelligent search was one of the bright spots, with high planned spending. For companies launching a search for search, this report will help you create the RFP by understanding what really differentiates products today.

I look forward to seeing you on Thursday’s webcast, and thanks for reading!

Coveo Customer Information Access: Search is Just The Tip of The Iceberg

January 20, 2010

I admit to being pretty jaded about “new” technology. In the 9 years I’ve been an analyst, I estimate I’ve had over 2,000 vendor briefings, and unfortunately the majority of claims about unique technology turn out to be the same or similar as other products. So when I say I was blown away by something new and innovative, it means I’ve been introduced to something pretty special.

This week I had the opportunity to spend some time in Quebec with Coveo, an emerging “customer information access” vendor, whom I will never again refer to as a “search vendor.” Oh, Coveo does search. They do it extremely well. But that is just the tip of the iceberg for this company.

But let’s start with search, as that’s what brought me to Coveo. I am finalizing the evaluation criteria for my upcoming market overview of search, showing how the worlds of enterprise search, customer support search and social search are merging. Coveo is on the list of vendor partners included in the study, and I wanted to learn more about what they were doing. The product had shown up on last year’s TSIA member survey for intelligent search with high satisfaction marks, but Coveo wasn’t coming at customer service search the same way as the multi-channel vendors. Turns out Coveo has over 700 customer installations, across several verticals, including the customer service market. Tied to no single knowledge base or content management tool, Coveo’s platform does very creative indexing of all enterprise and customer support content (biggest library of packaged connectors I’ve seen) and enables additional attribution or meta data to be associated to the content–sort of sophisticated tagging. (more…)