Web Support Blog

October 1, 2006

Content Effectiveness and Functionalism

Filed under: Content Effectiveness, Web Analytics — Chris @ 9:07 pm

My entire career has been in customer support, with the last 11 specifically in the web support space. Naturally everyone has asked me, “How do you identify a web site fix as an equivalent to a phone fix?” When I tell them, “Unless the user tells you that your site fixed their problem, you really cannot tell,” the next question is, “Then how do you know the site is working?” Well, it takes some assumptions: (1) if your content is right (timely, accurate, and relevant), then your users are solving their problems. And, (2) customers will leave when they have solved their problem or have gotten tired of looking for the solution. If you expand on assumption (2), by watching where customers exit on your site, the number of searches made, and content pages viewed, you can get a really good picture of what is working and what is not.

With these assumptions in mind, I set out to try and identify the content effectiveness on my site – as that is what drives customer success. In this quest, I looked for others who are already doing this, others who have a different view, or others who have a solution for identifying a self-support success. It seems the web analytics vendors have yet to work in this space and the call center organizations are still stuck on trying to find the phone fix equivalent. In other words, I have not been successful in my quest.

Recently though I found a whitepaper, Functionalism: A New Approach to Web Analytics on Gary Angel’s blog, SEMAngel. Gary is the President of SEMphonic, a company that has over 10 years of experience in the analytics space. To make a long story short, I was able to take the methodology from the whitepaper and apply it to content effectiveness. The whitepaper I wrote, Content Effectiveness and Functionalism, discusses how you can use Functionalism to identify the health of your content, and where to focus your efforts to improve your content (its effectiveness).

Below is a short list of basic assumptions I made in writing the paper.

1. Your support set is segmented by product. (In addition, it can also be segmented by language and region/localized.)
2. Your primary support site goal is to provide self-support.
3. Majority of your users use the Fingertip Knowledge approach. (Most users use your site to solve an immediate issue or problem, not for proactive learning.)

In future posts I will discuss the methodology in further detail, answering questions, and drilling-down to the next level of the methodology.

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