Customer Service: Answers – Seeding knowledge base

Customers use your site to find answers to their questions about the services and products your organization provides. To assist your customers in finding the information they are looking for, you can create answers to common questions and post them on your customer portal. As a result, you are able to provide a better customer experience because your customers are able to quickly find the answers to their questions.

You can format answers to include links, tables, graphics, and other features, making your support site more interactive and visually appealing. In addition, RightNow provides you with a revolutionary method of knowledge base management that enables you to overcome the critical problems associated with a manually constructed knowledge base.

Maintenance of your knowledge base is minimized because of automated processes that learn from customers using your site, then automatically rank answers and display the most useful answers first.

Seeding the knowledge base

RightNow ability to start with only 15 to 20 answers eliminates the need for a comprehensive initial knowledge set, which significantly speeds and simplifies the implementation. Most organizations can build their initial seed from existing online questions and answers, documents, or customer support interactions.

RightNow Propose Answer feature enables agents to suggest that certain incidents become public answers, allowing you to seamlessly create public answers from the real issues that your customers are facing (agents must have Propose permission in their profile).

Creating useful answers will enhance the search process for customers, allowing them to find pertinent information quickly without needing to do multiple searches. A knowledge base containing well-crafted answers will also optimize the self-learning features of RightNow that continually index, group, link, and rank the answers in the knowledge base.

These self-learning features are the backbone of self-service, enabling you to present the most historically useful answers first and to suggest answers related to the customer’s current question. In addition, effective answers will make your maintenance tasks easier as information ages and changes.

Use the following guidelines to create clear, focused answers:

  • Create one-topic answers: Think of each public answer in your knowledge base as one topic or the answer to one question. One-topic answers improve searching and grouping, which enable customers to easily find answers. One-topic answers provide brief, pertinent information without clutter. A knowledge base of unique answers also simplifies management and maintenance.
  • Provide adequate detail: Because RightNow indexes the text of the Summary, Question, and Answer fields into words and phrases for text searching and answer grouping, answers should contain an adequate amount of text that explains the issue. With limited text, there are very few indexed words for the answer, and the words that are indexed cannot fully represent the context of the answer. As a result, the answer may be difficult to find during text searching. With too much text (over two pages), you run the risk of writing about several topics and covering too broad of a context. The resulting set of indexed words may not span the entire text of the answer. In effect, the answer can be found during dissimilar searches in which that answer is not relevant.
  • Write a concise summary: The quality of the summary, meaning how closely it summarizes the contents of an answer, is critical to the effectiveness of the answer and affects its display position, how it links to related answers, and how it is grouped with similar answers. On the Answers page, customers will choose to open and read or skip over an answer based on the summary. Without a concise summary, customers may not open the answer, which directly impacts its display position and how it is linked with other answers. The summary should state what the customer can expect to learn by reading the answer or what question will be answered.
  • Create explicit keywords: Sometimes, you may not be able to capture the entire contents of an answer in the one-sentence summary. The Keyword field is an additional field, not viewable by customers, used during keyword indexing of an answer. You can enter supplemental keywords, phrases, or text that represents the answer’s contents. Keywords should be separated by commas, with grouped words separated by spaces (for example, “cell phones, calling plans, accessories”). You should be deliberate with the words you enter because they are weighted higher. Be sure to include a thorough, yet concise section of keywords.

When you publish answers, you make them available to the public on your customer portal. Answers can be either public or private, as well as have specific visibility settings for each interface or for contacts based on access levels defined in their SLAs.

Whether answers are visible on your customer portal is determined by what you specify in certain fields. The five key fields that determine how and where answers are presented are Answer Status, Answer Access Level, Language, Products and Categories, and Conditional Sections.

In order for answers to appear on the customer portal, the Status, Access Level, Language, Product, and Category fields must be set to a visibility that allows access by customers. If even one field does not allow visibility, the answer will not be available on the customer portal.

In addition, if you have sections within an answer with restricted visibility, that section must be assigned an access level associated with the answer. The five fields that control answer visibility are described in detail below.

  • Answer status: The primary factor that determines the visibility of answers is answer status. There can be many custom answer statuses, but all must be either a Public or Private status type, which is determined when the custom status is created. Answers set to a status that has a Private status type can never be viewed on the customer portal, regardless of their access or language assignment. Public answers may be viewable through the customer portal, depending on the other fields selected. Two of the default answer statuses are Review and Proposed, both of which have a Private status type. When agents propose an incident to become an answer, it is copied and set to the Proposed status with an access level of Everyone. Since the Proposed status is a Private status type, the answer will not be visible to customers. An answer changes to the Review status when its solved count reaches zero or when the date specified when adding or editing an answer is reached. The Review status will automatically remove the answer from the customer portal.
  • Answer access level: Access levels determine whether customers can view answers on a per-interface basis. If an answer is set to an access level that has customer visibility on one of the interfaces, then that answer is viewable by everyone on that interface, provided the remaining fields also allow visibility. If an access level does not provide visibility to customers for a certain interface, access can still be given to specific contacts by assigning them SLAs that allow privileged access. One of the default access levels for answers is Everyone. This access level allows all customers to have access to the answer on all interfaces (Example of other Access Levels: Platinum, Gold, Silver).
  • Language: Answer visibility is also determined by the language assigned to it. If assigned to a specific language, an answer will only be visible on the interfaces using that language, as long as the answer status and access level also allow visibility.
  • Products and categories: The visibility settings for the products and categories associated with the answer will also affect the visibility. If the answer is assigned to a product or category that is not visible to customers on a particular interface, the answer will also not be visible to customers, unless it is assigned to another product or category that is visible on the interface. In other words, if you have an answer that is assigned to two products, and one of the products is not visible on the interface, but the other product is, your answer will appear on the interface. However, if the answer is assigned to two products, and neither product is visible on the interface, your answer will not appear on the interface under any circumstances.
  • Conditional sections: Conditional sections help control visibility of certain sections within an answer. If a section of the answer is assigned an access level that is not visible to customers on a particular interface, but the answer is visible, then customers are able to view the answer but not the conditional section.

Customizable Menus: Product linking

If your organization has large numbers of categories or dispositions, staff members and customers must review long lists of menu items to find appropriate options. You can simplify their choices with product linking.

When products are linked to categories, only the linked categories are displayed when customers select products on the customer portal or when staff members select products while working on incidents. When products are linked to dispositions, only the linked dispositions are displayed when agents select products for incidents. Product linking is a powerful tool for enhancing efficiency for both staff members and customers.

Product-category linking is independent of product-disposition linking, so you can enable one or the other or both.

However, implicit linking occurs between the parent levels of products, categories, and dispositions that are linked. Parent products implicitly contain the same links that the leaf products below them contain. In other words, a parent product’s links are “inherited” from their leaf products.

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RightNow Service can automatically create links to categories and dispositions based on answers and incidents in the knowledge base, or you can manually define the links for each product. This action replaces all product-category and product-disposition links (including any you have created manually) with the automatically created links.

A link is created for every product-category combination of leaf products and leaf categories associated to answers in the knowledge base. In other words, in any given answer, every leaf product associated with the answer is linked to every leaf category associated with the answer.

A link is created for every product-disposition combination of leaf products and leaf dispositions associated to incidents in the knowledge base that were created within the last 30 days.

Manual links are created by choosing the product, right-click and select Edit.

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Now that you have created links, you must enable product linking for them to take effect.

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Product-category linking and product-disposition linking are independent, so they are enabled separately. You can enable either or both types of linking.

Product linking in RightNow Service is bidirectional. Besides linking products to categories and dispositions, you can also link categories and dispositions to products.

You might want a product to have the same category or disposition links as another product. In that case you can simply copy the category links or disposition links from the original product, and those links are applied to the product you are editing.

Product linking when working with answers: Regardless of whether “product linking” is enabled and regardless of what categories are linked to products, all products and all categories are available on the Products/Categories tab when you add or edit an answer.

When you select a product that has sub-products (including one or more levels of sub-products), all sub-products below the product you selected are also selected, all the way down to the leaf level. Any parent product levels are also selected implicitly.

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Customizable Menus: Products/Categories/Dispositions

When you create custom drop-down menus with the exact options you need, staff members can classify incidents and answers using those options, and customers can select specific products and categories to refine their searches for answers.

Products and categories organize data in the same ways, and you can choose to use either or both when you configure RightNow Service. If you use both, incidents and answers can be organized into specific classifications, and customers can search for answers using product and category filters. You can create up to 6 levels each of products and categories and specify the number of levels agents must enter when working with incidents. It is not required to use products and categories.

An incident’s disposition refers to the way the incident is ultimately solved. You may want to require that agents select a disposition before they save an incident when they change the status to Solved. Dispositions do not appear on the customer portal. You can add as many dispositions as you need, and you can also add sub-levels of dispositions to a total of 6 levels.

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Selecting the visibility settings for a parent level does not automatically set the same settings for the parent’s sub-levels. Visibility must be set individually for each. You can also make sub-products visible even if the parent product is not visible.

You can delete products, categories, and dispositions that do not have sub-levels. When deleting a product or other item that has sub-levels, you must delete all of the sub-levels first. You also cannot delete multiple products, categories, or dispositions simultaneously.

You do not receive a dependency conflict warning when you delete products, categories, or dispositions used in rules. Rules that use the deleted item may no longer function as expected, requiring you to edit the rules and reactivate the rule base.

In addition, you do not receive a dependency conflict warning when deleting products or categories that are used in answers. Answers that are associated with deleted products or categories may not display as expected.