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Improving the web experience

This article appears in the issue April 2013 [Volume 22, Issue 4]


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Knowledge management is helping companies better manage the Web experiences they present to their customers, benefiting both the organizations and users. As the following cases illustrate, the advantages gained can include everything from determining what videos customers most want to see, to enhancing a knowledgebase and improving the management of digital photos.

PBS boosts videos

The Public Broadcasting Service, which bills itself as "America's largest classroom," reaches an estimated 124 million viewers through its 360 member stations and an estimated 20 million people online each month.

"We've offered customers a Web experience for quite some time," says Amy Sample, PBS senior director of digital analytics. Video continues to be an increasingly more essential part of that offering.

After initially relaunching its Web experience for users in 2007 with a site that included a video portal, PBS officials quickly learned that they needed to have more data than they could gather simply with their legacy processes, so they sought out ForeSee, a company that specializes in customer experience analytics, across different customer touch points, such as mobile and the Web. ForeSee started evaluating customer satisfaction data in early 2010, which PBS then used with its own internal statistics to determine how to improve the user Web experience.

"We're using the ForeSee data to see how we can drive more user engagement," Sample says. "The biggest value is that it helps us determine how to present videos for the best engagement."

For example, PBS restructured its video feeds to give preference to those that the ForeSee data showed would be most likely to result in higher viewer engagement. Videos that had a lot of hits, but little in terms of follow-up engagement with viewers, would be deeper in the search process. Enhanced user engagement is critical to PBS, Sample explains, because the more engaged viewers are, the more likely they are to donate to their local PBS affiliate as well as to the corporate parent.

The ForeSee data has shown that people tend to prefer videos from local affiliates. So in 2012, PBS revamped the Web experience to present the local videos on the site first, with network videos in a subordinate position. Other video content was similarly reprioritized.

As a result of the changes made because of the analysis, PBS has had a 66 percent increase in monthly video views, a 13 percent jump in the number of monthly website views, and a 7 percent rise in the average monthly unique viewers to the site.

PBS plans to add even more video to its website this year, so it will continue to rely on the ForeSee information to help drive further viewer engagement.

Improved site navigation, help

Essential in providing customers with an excellent Web experience is knowledgebase support when the user needs additional information.

Ask.com, the online question answering service that students, professionals and others use to find quick answers to basic questions on a wide variety of subjects, could provide easy answers on any number of topics, but had a support/help site that was designed by engineers. So while the technology was solid, the Ask.com site provided a poor Web experience for those users who were looking for additional help, says Eric McKirdy, customer service manager. "The links were very hard to navigate—sometimes it was a real goose chase. The support site was not all that helpful. It was a real disconnect from the sentiment Ask.com wanted to communicate to customers. The system was broken; we needed it to make it better."

One option would have been to significantly expand the support help, but that would have been an expensive proposition, according to McKirdy. So the company started looking for a partner that could provide better support help.

McKirdy started to evaluate different options in December 2011. Someone else within Ask.com recommended Parature, a provider of cloud-based social and customer engagement solutions.

"One of the first promises they made was that they would work with Ask.com., not force us to fit into their system, which was the case with our previous vendor," McKirdy says.

Parature started handling the support needs of the Ask.com website in 2012, with tremendous results, according to McKirdy. Trouble tickets are down 60 percent, and users have increased their usage of the Ask.com knowledgebase. Additionally, in an informal poll about site support that McKirdy conducted in late 2012, 85 percent of the response was positive and the other 15 percent was neutral.

McKirdy expects to further expand the website support in 2013 with live video chat.

Enhanced photo management

Just as the PBS website relies on videos to enhance the Web experience for viewers, others see digital photos as a critical element of an enhanced Web experience.

The Food Network, which includes a lifestyle network, website and magazine, is one such company. In today's fast-moving media environment, it is essential to be able to find, select and distribute digital photos without losing them somewhere along the process, says Megan Re, photo director. She is in charge of digital photos for all of the network's properties, including the website.

The website team works in an environment that requires a constant flow of new  digital photos, as well as other content for the numerous updates that are made every day. But when Re joined the Food Network a couple of years ago, no such system was in place to find and deliver the needed digital photography to the website team. Each department in the company had its own photo files, with little knowledge about what photos another department might have, what photos weren't available anywhere in the network and what photos might be available if they could only be located.

"There were no specs on the metadata, no specs on file naming, no size information. We had boxes of slides, transparencies, photos on hard drives, other images of DVDs and a lot of different silos," Re recalls. "We had to develop a whole new workflow."

So Re looked at a number of providers that could give the Food Network a centralized repository of the photos, with full filing, tagging and identification capabilities. She talked with other photo professionals and other television networks and also spent 18 months determining a workflow strategy that would operate best for her and her team. It was also essential that the digital photos remain in a central repository rather than being removed (and perhaps lost).

In early 2011, Re started using the photo and video platform of GLOBALedit, enabling her to manage the Food Network's digital photos in the cloud. The platform enables authorized users to review, approve and distribute digital photos.

"I've just loved it," Re says. "This thing is great. It really solved our problem of sharing the assets and knowing what we had. We can easily send images to talent for approval and have everything tracked and organized."

In January, GLOBALedit integrated the ICVT JPEGmini media technology, which reduces the size of digital images for transmission, enabling them to be distributed as much as five times faster than before. That is a critical new feature, particularly for the Food Network's website team, because it will enable Re to share photos with them much more quickly, meaning faster updates and a better Web experience for users, she says. 



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