26. Nov. 2019
Jarrod Davis
2 minute read

Enterprise Search for Customer Service is a Mistake. Here's Why

Enterprise search is a tempting solution for many companies. It promises a quick fix to data silos and doesn’t require migrations, switching software or any dramatic changes to your daily work. Enterprise search to the rescue! But if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

What is Enterprise Search?

 Let’s start by defining the term:

Enterprise search is a search system that enables users to search multiple structured and unstructured data sources  with a single query. These sources are found in many different places such as email servers, application databases, content management systems, file systems, intranet sites and external Web sites.

That does sound tempting for organizations with data scattered across several systems.

What Enterprise Search Is Not

project planning

Enterprise search is not a knowledge base. By definition, it simply enables users to search multiple sources with only a single query instead of having to manually do it in each individual system.

It does not centralize your data and  it does not structure your data. It also does not enable any form of quality control or editorial workflows.

Why does that matter? Because the core problems in your organization are:

  • Data stored in multiple locations
  • Duplicate and redundant data
  • Difficulty finding data
  • No quality-assurance process
  • No central editorial process
  • Inefficiency due to maintaining multiple sources
  • Inability to determine which documents are current and which are out of date

With that said, does enterprise search still seem like an actual solution, or just rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic? However, if you have heavy IT restrictions and there is absolutely no other option available, it can be a compromise.

Should You Use Enterprise Search for Customer Service?

No. Just don’t. While some departments may get by with such a band aid solution, customer service simply cannot afford to in the long run, especially at scale.

When an agent answers the phone, opens a live chat or gets a message on Facebook, the clock starts ticking. They need instant access to answers, answers they can trust!

If they are searching through multiple systems for answers, whether doing each one individually or centrally via enterprise search, you haven’t solved any of your problems, you’ve just kicked the can down the road.

Consider this example: a customer calls about returning an item. The agent searches and gets the following results:

enterprise search results

Which one should the agent choose?

5 Reasons to Choose a Knowledge Base

So why should you choose a knowledge base instead of enterprise search? Here are five:

  1. It centralizes all your data into a single, easy to manage system
  2. Custom editorial workflows enable easy document review and feedback
  3. Articles can be flagged for automatic review resubmission, so they are always up to date
  4. Centrally manage roles and rights so that agents only have access to what they need
  5. Documents can be written in a standardized, easy-to-read format

The list goes on. If your department is currently lost in a jungle of support information and you’re trying to cut through it all, consider a professional knowledge management solution. You may not realize how many ways it can make your life easier.


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