Updated RightAnswers Service Simplifies Search for Help

By Michael Caton  |  Posted 2004-03-15 Print this article Print

Support knowledge base Knowledge-Paks Online uses a feedback mechanism to learn and send the most likely solutions to the top of the list, but asking the right questions is crucial.

Its hard to find good help these days, at least when you need to search a support knowledge base for answers to support questions. RightAnswers Knowledge-Paks Online tries to remedy this and does simplify finding answers, although, in my tests, the quality of the answer largely depended on the quality of the question.

The online service is priced at $500 per named seat per year for support analysts and $3 per user per year for end-user self-support. Launched at www.rightanswers.com this month, the service is an update to RightAnswers namesake service.

Narrowing searches is easier in this version: I just clicked through a list of topics, then chose a specific application to narrow the search.

RightAnswers aggregates troubleshooting and how-to information about products from vendor support information. Knowledge-Pak Onlines feedback mechanism helps the system learn and thereby elevate the most likely solutions to the top of the list.

To use the system effectively, users must ask the right questions. For example, I queried the system for help overcoming a problem in Outlook 2002, where Outlook couldnt find a user in the Global Address Book on the Exchange server.

Using the search terms "Outlook 2002 cant find address in Global Address Book," as an end user might do, didnt yield the right answer in the first 20 items. Using the search terms "Outlook 2002 cant resolve nicknames to Global Address Book," as support staff might do, yielded the right answer in the top 10 solutions.

In places where more basic questions dont yield good results, navigating to more select solutions via links such as "What is the Error Message displayed?" simplifies finding a good solution.

Knowledge-Paks taps users for feedback to help prioritize results on subsequent searches. The feedback mechanism is much improved over the last version: Now, users can respond "no" to a possible answer, with or without getting the feedback form. That said, the mechanism could work better. Selecting "no" generates a pop-up window acknowledging the response. Id rather be automatically looped to the original list of answers to try the next one.

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