Self-Service Option Clicks

 
 
By Jim Rapoza  |  Posted 2003-04-21
 
 
 

Self-Service Option Clicks


Electronic marketing company DoubleClick Inc. is in the business of providing customers with the information they need to plan and manage marketing programs, campaigns and advertisements. However, when it came to support, DoubleClicks customers couldnt always find the help they needed without picking up a phone to talk to someone.

Because of this, the New York-based company turned to KnowledgeBase Solutions Inc.s KnowledgeBase.net, which allowed DoubleClick to build a powerful

Web-based, self-service option that made it easy for customers to find answers to support questions and also easy for DoubleClick personnel to consistently keep the knowledge base updated with the latest information.

DoubleClick was using a home-grown system that consisted of a text database that integrated with its Remedy support system to give customers some ability to search for common support solutions on their own.

Ben Saitz
However, according to Ben Saitz (pictured on left), senior director of operations with DoubleClicks Global Technical Services, this system was limited, especially when it came to reporting and feedback. "There were no metrics or any kind of analysis in this system," Saitz said. "We werent providing our customers with a strong self-service support option."

This system also proved to be less than capable for support staff, who searched it and were responsible for adding content to it. The old system "was simple to use, but there was no back end to it, and there was no standard way to enter content," said Bryan Hylenski, a technical escalation analyst at DoubleClick.

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With these limitations in mind, DoubleClick decided to look for a better self-service solution, and in mid-2001, it developed a request for proposal and began looking at products. According to Saitz, the main products DoubleClick looked at were Knowlix (which was acquired by Peregrine Systems Inc.), RightNow Technologies Inc.s eService Center solution (see the review) and KnowledgeBases KnowledgeBase.net.

When DoubleClick began the evaluation process, it looked at internal enterprise solutions and hosted application service provider options. "At first, we had an open mind about it," Saitz said, "but once we got into the evaluation, we realized that it needed to be an enterprise implementation."

One of the main reasons for this was that DoubleClick needed its self- service solution to tie in to its Remedy help desk, which would be very difficult to do with a hosted option. DoubleClick wanted this integration so users would have to log in only once using the Remedy log-ins.

DoubleClick finally chose KnowledgeBase.net in large part for its strong integration with Remedy. "We also really liked the UI, which is very clean and professional," Saitz said. "We have 200-plus people who will use this to add content, and a good management interface makes this much easier."

Another plus for DoubleClick was that KnowledgeBase.net is based on Microsoft Corp.s Windows, SQL Server and Active Server Pages, which matched the companys in-house expertise better than products that used Unix and open-source languages.

Other pluses were KnowledgeBase.nets integration with Microsoft Office for adding content into the system, its workflow options, and its mix of search and hierarchical categorization. Although he didnt specify the cost of the KnowledgeBase.net system, Saitz said the price was very competitive. The KnowledgeBase.net Enterprise Solution starts at $50,000.

Early last year, DoubleClick support staff tried a 30-day trial implementation of KnowledgeBase.net. It ran on one box and was used only internally. During this time, DoubleClick received a lot of useful feedback from support teams and end users on the system.

The trial went well, and DoubleClick began to ready content for migration. This involved updating or removing older content. Staffers were also able to do bulk uploading of content in standard text format using an import tool, provided by KnowledgeBase, that could easily import content that was in a standard text format.

DoubleClick also wanted to make sure there was plenty of content in the system before it went live to customers. "We didnt want to offer our customers a solution without a lot of content, so we took a SWAT team approach to encourage people to add lots of content," Saitz said.

The access controls in KnowledgeBase.net are defined to manage what users can do. "For example, if you only work on one product line, then you can only add content in that area," Saitz said.

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Of course, tracking how the system is used is extremely important to DoubleClick, both to make sure that customers are getting value from the system and to ensure that content is kept up-to-date. According to Saitz, while the basic reporting capabilities in KnowledgeBase.net are useful, DoubleClicks analysis needs go deeper.

"We do use some of the standard reports in KnowledgeBase.net, but we also use [Crystal Decisions Inc.s] Crystal Reports to do more extensive reporting," Saitz said. "I even get a report that shows all the non-HTML content that has been added to the system."

The excellent interface and search capabilities are critical to helping everyday users of KnowledgeBase.net do their jobs. DoubleClicks Hylenski said he uses the system to enter articles into the knowledge base and as an information source (see screen).

"If I dont know the answer to a question, I can search for it myself," Hylenski said. Using the internal facing knowledge base, he can find answers and pass them on to customers and other analysts. One of Hylenskis favorite aspects of the KnowledgeBase.net system is its ability to notify him over time to update content. He also likes the search capabilities. "Its really nice to be able to search for content or browse through the categories to find an answer," he said. "I also like that I can send clients an answer as a link to the knowledge base."

Although KnowledgeBase.net includes a WYSIWYG editor for adding content directly as HTML, DoubleClicks managers initially didnt expect to use it much, thinking they would use templates instead. "We almost overlooked it," Saitz said. However, over time, the managers came to appreciate this capability for making it easy for users to add content, he said.

In the future, DoubleClick wants to get even better integration between KnowledgeBase.net and the organizations other systems. "Wed like to make the integration with Remedy even more seamless," Saitz said.

Overall, Saitz said, KnowledgeBase.net is meeting DoubleClicks needs very well. On DoubleClicks wish list, he added, is the ability for users to track updates and additions to content through e-mail updates.

Probably the biggest challenge is getting some DoubleClick customers to feel comfortable about using a Web self-service option for simple questions, instead of picking up a phone and calling support. "Its still a challenge to get some of our customers to use the self-service option," Saitz said.

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