At the same time that the product documentation team at Allscripts was changing vendors for our product documentation portal, the IT team was changing platforms for the customer hub where customers access the documentation portal, download software, get support, pay bills, and so on. Also, the federated search tool in the old customer portal was being retired by Google, so a new tool was implemented. These changes occurring concurrently gave us a unique opportunity to integrate the portals before rolling them out to improve customer experience with both portals.
The new tools used to build the integrated portals were:
- ServiceNow Communities – The customer hub, Allscripts Central, was built with ServiceNow Communities.
- Zoomin – The new product documentation portal was built with Zoomin.
- Coveo – The new tool for the federated search is Coveo.
Efforts to improve customer experience through integrating the portals were made during implementation, after go-live, and more integration is planned for the future.
Integration during implementation
Extensive customer research and usability testing on the old portals and mock-ups of the new portals identified customer pain points and opportunities for integration. During the implementation of the portals, integration occurred in the following areas:
- Single-sign on (SSO)
- Access to product documentation
- Federated search
SSO gives customers who have signed in to the customer hub access to the product documentation portal without having to sign in again. Without SSO, this step would be necessary because our documentation is hosted externally on a Zoomin server.
Technical Publications worked as the liaison between our IT team and Zoomin to implement SSO. Customers sign on to the customer hub using their services email, and Allscripts employees use their corporate logon so that they do not need separate credentials.
Because users sign-on, we were able to assign roles to user groups in Zoomin. The product documentation portal recognizes whether users are customers or employees when they log on and displays internal or external content appropriately. Also, customers can subscribe to notifications about updated documentation and create custom libraries to organize their content.
Access to product documentation
In the old customer hub, product documentation could be accessed only from a menu. In the new customer hub, customers can access the product documentation from multiple points:
- The Product Documentation button on the landing page for one-click access to the documentation portal
- The Documentation option on the Product menu in the banner that appears on every page in the customer hub so that product documentation can be accessed from anywhere in the customer hub
- The Release Notes options on the Product menu, which gives customers quick access to their most requested documentation type
- The documentation results from the federated search
SSO gave us the opportunity to share preferences between the customer hub and the documentation portal. Preferences can be set in the customer hub, and the out-of-the-box functionality in Zoomin also lets customers set preferences. Instead of requiring customers to set preferences twice, which would be frustrating and confusing, our IT team worked with Zoomin to use the preferences from Allscripts Central. The preferences from the customer hub are passed to the documentation portal as part of the SSO authentication.
Preferences determine which products are displayed on the product documentation homepage and in the product filter list for the search. Being able to limit the number of products is important because we have over 100 products and 200,000 topics in the documentation portal.
Coveo is the federated search tool in the customer hub, and a search box is displayed in the banner on every page of the customer hub. When customers search for a term, all subsites of the customer hub are searched, and the results include:
- Product documentation topics and full publications
- Knowledge base articles from Services and Support
- Forum discussions from customers
In the old customer portal, the federated search did not include product documentation. During our customer research, we discovered that customers want to see documentation results that might solve their issues, not just knowledge base articles.
The product documentation content is reindexed in Coveo whenever content is added to or deleted from the product documentation portal, so the search stays up-to-date.
Content from the documentation portal is also displayed in the search on the ServiceNow site for Service and Support.
Post go-live improvements
After the new customer hub and product documentation portal rollout, we continued to make integration improvements based on customer feedback and analytics.
We gathered customer feedback by emails to product documentation, support tickets, internal feedback from employees who interact with customers, conversations with individual customers, and customer surveys. We discovered that:
- Customers used the federated search in the customer hub more than expected. In fact, many customers and employees didn’t realize that they could find documentation in any other way.
- The experience between the federated search and the search in the product documentation portal was different. For example:
- The product documentation portal had more filter options, such as documentation type.
- More tags, such as version and audience, were displayed for results in the product documentation portal.
- The federated search results were missing some of the features in the product documentation portal, such as saving a web-based publication as a PDF.
- Icons were displayed for file types (.xlsx, .docx, .pdf, and so on) in the product documentation portal, but not in the federated search results.
- Customers were more successful in finding what they needed if they searched in the product documentation portal.
To address these issues, we worked with our IT team to improve the federated search results page to match more closely with the search results page in the product documentation portal:
- Filters on the federated search results page include documentation types, which are pulled from the taxonomy file for the product documentation portal.
- Release and audience tags are displayed for each search result.
- PDFs can be printed from search results.
- Icons are displayed for file types on both search results pages.
Before go-live, we had trained employees and customers on the product documentation portal as part of the client hub training. We updated the training to include features added since go-live and emphasized the pros and cons of the federated search vs. the product documentation search.
After the new customer hub was rolled out, we started investigating how to use analytics to improve customer experience with the product documentation. We wanted to know:
- What are customers searching for?
- What aren’t they finding?
- What is the most accessed content?
- What content has not been accessed – ever, in x months, and so on?
- Are users engaging with the content they find?
By asking these questions, we wanted to find out how to improve the search and the content. We also wanted to know where we should focus our limited documentation resources.
We gathered analytics from three sources, which became available at different times:
- Coveo – Search analytics from the customer hub were available in January 2020.
- Zoomin – Search and traffic dashboards from the product documentation portal were available in April 2020. Content dashboards were available in August 2020.
- Google Analytics – Pageviews in the product documentation portal were available in May 2020.
Coveo and Google Analytics showed us the most accessed content in the product documentation portal by product, but the learning curve was steep, especially with Google Analytics.
The analytics from Zoomin proved to be the easiest to use by far and the most helpful. They also validated the insights we had from the other sources. The Zoomin analytics dashboards had widgets that showed the data to answer each of our questions, and some widgets showed us what content our customers had not accessed, which was information we could not get from Coveo or Google Analytics.
From the data we gathered, we were able to make informed decisions about how to improve customer experience.
- Configuration guides and release notes are the top documents customers want, so configuration guides and release notes are weighted higher in the federated search results when Product Documentation is selected for the source filter.
- For search terms that did not provide results in the product documentation portal, we added synonyms to improve the search and shared the synonyms with the Coveo developer to improve the federated search.
- Content that had not been accessed recently was analyzed and archived if appropriate.
- Reports of the content most accessed for a product to writers so that they can prioritize content updates with the product owners.
Improving customer experience is an ongoing process. We plan to gather more customer feedback as we make changes, and we are diving deeper into analytics. We will continue to fine-tune the federated search, and we are investigating adding documentation widgets to the customer hub landing page.
Improving customer experience takes effort, but it’s worth it.