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The Secret to Containing Costs and Improving Service

This article is part of the Best Practices White Paper KM for Customer Service [April 2009]


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Customer care contact centers and IT departments in large and small enterprises across the world are being asked to tighten their budgets—without sacrificing customer service or business productivity.

We’ve all been there: Struggling to find a way to get more out of our contact center and help desk agents; looking for new ways to get calls out of queues; and begging other departments to pitch in during peak times. As problematic as these issues may seem, the challenges are only getting steeper in today’s economy.

The good news is the inherent value and potential of the contact center and IT help desk has never wavered. In recent years, the contact center has become the primary channel for businesses to provide information, assistance and service for internal and external clients.

But enabling a contact center to do its job effectively isn’t easy. More often than not, businesses are unable to realize the benefits of customer interaction management without breaking the bank on IT administration, training, production, development and database costs.

So what is the secret to success? How do leaders in IT and customer care manage their department budgets more prudently without sacrificing customer service and business productivity?

A leading banking and financial services organization in Europe, with offices globally, is among a growing number of companies turning to powerful search-based infrastructure to optimize their contact center and help desk capabilities.

This leading bank deploys Exalead CloudView on an internal IT help desk application that services all their employees across North America. Its team of help desk agents can now access the information it needs, quickly and easily, from a myriad of decentralized repositories.

This organization’s knowledgebase includes a fast-growing inventory of spreadsheets, Word documents, image files, PDFs, presentations and data scattered among Lotus Notes, Oracle, shared drives and the BMC Remedy ticketing system.

The bank has simplified and expedited information access for help desk agents, particularly within the BMC Remedy system. The BMC Remedy System is a structured database that allows users to enter their own tickets, check their status and handle change control. The business benefits of better search within the BMC Remedy system combined with access to their Lotus Notes databases are hard to argue. Help desk tickets are resolved in hours, not days. Call times are reduced. And first-call resolution increases.

Better Search: Better Contact Center
If you are looking for ways to optimize your contact center in 2009, you need to start with technology that is characterized by the following five characteristics:

1. A 360-degree view of the enterprise: Enterprises, and contact centers in particular, are overflowing with a wide range of disparate unstructured and structured information sources such as CRM and ERP systems, applications, email, websites and more.

Agents need access to more of the data available within their companies, and better technologies for delivering that data to their desktops. You must look for search-based infrastructure that comes with built-in connectors to the CRM systems you rely on, as well as other important business applications such as your email systems, and knowledge and content management systems.

In addition, the infrastructure must include an open API so you can easily create a connector to less common content sources. When all is said and done, agents need a way to access relevant information from across the enterprise to satisfy customers and increase first-call resolution rates.

2. More intuitive search for structured sources: The best contact centers will deploy a search-based infrastructure that allows agents to find what they need in their structured databases without having to bother the already busy personnel in the IT department for assistance. The search technology should be able to transform natural language questions into an appropriate SQL query. It should also come with advanced features such as a single search field, intuitive navigation and fuzzy matching options. This technology will empower your contact center agents to respond to customer questions quickly and effectively, while limiting the need for training or having to rely on an already overburdened IT department.

3. A powerful, Web-based architecture: The world’s busiest contact centers deploy technology backed by a powerful Web-based architecture. This architecture must provide real-time indexing, the ability to handle millions of records, several thousand users and as many as 100 queries every second. Contact centers are a 24-hour operation, every day of the year. The best businesses will not let poor technology performance jeopardize their sales or hard-earned customer service levels.

4. Fast, easy implementation: As the corporate world tightens its budgets, IT departments cannot afford technologies that require long, involved implementations with costly professional services. You must look for search-based infrastructure that can meet all of your functional needs, and be rolled out within weeks, rather than months. With the right technology, this is entirely feasible. And the sooner you arm your contact center agents with the right tools, the faster they will be able to respond to customer questions more effectively.

5. Low total cost of ownership: It’s imperative you ask vendors the hard questions before deciding on a solution for your contact center. For example, how many servers will be required to handle the anticipated query load? How much can you expect to pay on database licenses, hardware and maintenance costs? You’ll be amazed at the answers you receive. The right solution will not only meet all of your functional technology requirements, but provide you with the lowest total cost of ownership, minimizing everything from training, production and development costs to database and application expenditures.


Founded in 2000, Exalead S.A. is a revolutionary global software provider in the enterprise and Web search markets. More than 100 million unique users a month employ Exalead’s technology for search, including leading companies such as Price Waterhouse Cooper, Michelin, American Greetings and Sanofi Aventis. Exalead is reshaping the digital content landscape with a platform that uses advanced semantic technologies to bring structure, meaning and accessibility to previously unused or underutilized data and content in the disparate, heterogeneous enterprise information cloud. This cutting edge technology makes Exalead one of the most important companies contributing to the fields of digital content search, discovery, management, call center enablement, security, and storage. Headquartered in Paris, France, with a global office network covering Europe, the United Kingdom and North America, you can find more information about Exalead at www.exalead.com.


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