For as long as I can remember, site search technologies that simply index content have long been the default method that companies have relied on to assist website visitors in finding information through keyword searches. However, if you’re relying on traditional site search alone as a way to deliver online answers to your customers’ questions, your organization might just receive some unintended results.
Why Traditional Site Search Struggles to Deliver Online Answers
Traditional site search technologies are designed to provide an effective means of searching content when there is little or no customer context. To be fair, no one can deny the benefits of site search tools when an individual is carrying out research and attempting to find sources of information in a sea of content. But when site search is inappropriately applied as a tool to deliver online self-service for your customers and other website visitors, it could actually do more harm than good. Here’s 7 reasons why:
- Search Result Fatigue: Traditional site search indexes all available content – documents, pages, articles, etc. For a typical large company, this is usually tens of thousands of content assets. Placing the onus on the user to have to figure out which of these search results contain the correct answer (if the correct answer exists at all!) is unfair and is a sure way to set your customers up for failure.
- Limited Quality Control: When organizations have literally hundreds of search results that are being returned to users who are simply looking for the answer to their question, the ability to control the quality of this content greatly diminishes.
- Site Search Technology Cannot Deliver Proper Self-Service: End users do not think in terms of keywords – they have questions and they want them answered, immediately. Since traditional site search relies on a rules-based approach where the end-user types in keywords to find an answer, there is a total mismatch of the underlying technology and how users should interact with an online self-service solution.
- Governance Issues Related to Centralization and Management of Content: An ongoing challenge in providing traditional site search relates to publishing, providing access to content and the governance models that must be placed around this access. The challenge faced by most organizations is establishing a governance model around the availability of content for indexing. Which content should be indexed and available for searching? What is the process for ensuring the content remains current and accurate?
- Poor User Experience: Traditional site search does not provide a great user experience since visitors must hunt and peck through search results to the actual pages, clicking numerous links before they find their answer. In most cases, an unsuccessful search requires the customer to initiate another search. However your customers will grow impatient with needing to reword their search, leading to abandonment of their self-service efforts. They will either escalate their questions to your higher cost customer support channels (e.g. phone, email, or chat), or leave your organization altogether.
- Lack of Multi-Channel Relevance: Search tools were specifically built with the web interface in mind. This is most evident when attempting to self-serve from a mobile device where it’s just not practical for consumers to scroll through pages of search results to locate the correct answer. However, organizations also need to think about how best to deliver answers consistently and effectively across other widely used customer service channels: corporate website, mobile, social media, email, chat, and the call center. Site search typically is not the best way to achieve this.
- Limited Reporting on Important Customer Metrics: Customer-centric organizations will want to learn as much as they can from their customers’ interaction on their website. Unfortunately, one of the largest gaps in traditional site search is the lack of tools available to understand performance, results and behavior. Site search often cannot provide meaningful insights that help to improve your organization’s interaction with its customers.
Virtual Agents: The Better Way to Deliver Online Answers to Your Customers
As a result of the need to deliver better online self-service, Virtual Agent technology was developed.
Virtual Agents take a much different, and improved approach, than traditional site search does in their attempt to deliver online self-service answers. Virtual Agents are software services that engage in automated, natural language conversations with customers in self-service environments. Rather than delivering a set of search results, Virtual Agents deliver approved company messaging to the end-consumer in the form of one right answer, across all customer support channels.
Learn More! Download the Free Report: Virtual Agents vs. Site Search
Learn more about this topic. Download the free report: Virtual Agents vs. Site Search. In this report, we conducted an in depth review of both traditional site search and Virtual Agents to help organizations decide the best strategic path to follow when developing their online self-service strategies. The report also explores the possibility of both site search and Virtual Agents co-existing in a federated environment, and reviews how this might benefit your organization.