How to Find a Needle in a Stack of Needles

You could Google cognitive search and find a lot of definitions. But the simplest one is this, “Cognitive search allows people to find hidden knowledge.” That knowledge, that gem could be anything and this applies to every vertical and job function. It can help you find a needle in a haystack or a particular needle in a stack of needles. And finding a particular needle in a stack of needles is often what customer service reps have to do.

Cognitive Search for Customer Support

A Needle in a Stack of Needles 

When a service rep fields a call from a customer, chances are he or she will NOT know from their own product knowledge how to answer the customer’s question or solve their problem. The exception would be a huge issue that everyone knows about and which the company has dedicated serious resources to solving.

No, most customers call about anomalies. Things that don’t happen all the time. Things they can’t reproduce. Every piece of hardware and software has many places where, with the right combination of circumstances, something could fail. The product engineers — or one of them — probably know about the issue your customer is calling about. What it is and how to solve it is probably documented. Somewhere. But it’s a needle. In a stack of needles.

Finding the Needle

Cognitive search not only knows about all the needles, it knows about the relationships between them. Including who has searched for this certain product anomaly — needle — before. And where in the release notes for version X.0 of the product there’s a solution. And, by the way, sales engineer George knows all about this issue and wrote a blog about it.

When the service rep pulls all this up on her screen in a flash, she’s suddenly very smart. She has the answer. She doesn’t need to escalate the call to her supervisor. She doesn’t need to put her customer on hold for two minutes. She doesn’t need to research the issue and call the customer back. She can solve the problem and close the ticket herself. That’s cognitive search for customer support.

Better Support for Customer Support

Without cognitive search, here’s what usually happens on a support call. Let’s move out of tech for minute. Let’s talk appliances.

The first time you call in when your dishwasher breaks, you talk to a guy who's just reading from a script. When he can't figure it out, he passes you up the chain to someone who has a bigger script and knows a little more. If he can't do it, you get passed up to someone else and on and on.

The people at the far end are expensive, hard to train, and hard to retain. The people at the bottom are less expensive, and there are more of them.

And what we’ve seen with our customers is that if you have a better support system behind the customer support team, you can have lower level people – less costly resources – perform a larger percentage of the work. You take all the work that level two people used to do and push it to level one. And all the work that level one people did can become self-service, which can also be powered by cognitive search.

To learn more about how cognitive search can improve customer support, check out our 5-minute Guide.

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