It’s hard to grasp, but in this age of instant digital answers, the abundance of knowledge available is openly deceptive.

Product portals are bursting with knowledge, yet at the same time, your customers are struggling to find the information they need to use your product. This gap challenges companies to fathom why it is so hard for customers to find the information they need, even when product information is readily out there. This, in turn, sends companies to find fixed solutions to bridge their customers’ knowledge gap.

Enterprise search, sometimes referred to as universal search, is considered one of the most popular methods to organize information within the organization’s digital sources. It creates a common interface to allow users to access knowledge scattered across an infinite number of documents, and is stored in multiple file systems, databases, and content management systems.

Yet, the complexity and nuances of the enterprise organization make enterprise search great in theory, but lacking in practice. The plethora of available information is only emphasizing the importance of organizing knowledge in a coherent taxonomy in order to make it accessible to your customers. Circling back to solving the deception of the seemingly available plentitude of knowledge, it’s important to remember that the first threshold for the usefulness of your product documentation depends on whether and how users can find it.

On the customer experience aspect, customers no longer accept having to turn to an antiquated manual or guide to hunt for the answers they need. Rather, they’ve come to expect - indeed demand - easy, intuitive access to guidance, wherever they need it. Customers expect to easily receive the relevant guidance they need to be successful at every step of their journey.  

Trying to bridge the knowledge gap, enterprise search tools are offering a narrow scope for documentation portals as well as a seamless customer experience. By definition, they focus solely on search mechanics, but not the user’s experience. By the end of the day, enterprise search channels your customer to one of many potential channels to find their answer, such as knowledge bases, tech docs portals, online communities, in-product help, and more, but is not necessarily bringing them back to your portal.

Understanding these 6 reasons why enterprise search in not enough is key to helping your customers find product answers (and even boost your product usage)

Enterprise search does not deliver personalized knowledge to the user:

Enterprise search delivers the best results based on the keywords entered. But those aren’t necessarily the best results for the individual user. Factors like user role, product version, familiarity with the product, and content preferences can make search results great for one user and useless for another.

Enterprise search is not topic-based:

Much like the issue with keywords by user, topics aren’t always grouped by user. Think about “Getting started” and “Installation guide” or “Integrations” and “APIs”. Logically, these would appear together when a user searches, but since they don’t share keywords, enterprise search would not naturally group them.

Enterprise search takes users off their path:

Enterprise search does a great job at finding information across multiple disparate sources. But when it brings users to that source, it doesn’t have a way to bring the user back. In some cases, this can lead the user down a rabbit hole where they have no idea how to get back - especially if the user doesn’t find what they’re looking for right away. Not only is this kind of context-switching confusing and frustrating, but once your customers have left, there’s also no guarantee they’ll come back.

Enterprise search can’t measure content effectiveness:

While enterprise search can show what users clicked on, which continues to improve search results, it can’t actually tell if the user found what they were looking for in that content. This helps you improve search but ultimately doesn’t tell you how your customers are resolving their issues most effectively.

Enterprise search is only 6% effective at first results:

The challenge to make information accessible to customers and stakeholders is shared by many enterprises, especially in the B2B SaaS world. But according to a recent survey from Frost & Sullivan, only 6% of users find the right answer during their first search - and the average B2B user spends around 7 minutes looking for answers to their questions.

Enterprise search does not allow easy search in multiple file formats:

When enterprises are using various file formats to store the corporate knowledge, they limit the customers’ ability to find the right answer, when it is stored in a plethora of documents and authoring tools like Jira, Confluence, Dita, Adobe, and more. Searching through each of these requires additional functionality, in order to ensure a great content experience.

The bottom line: When organizations rely only on enterprise search to deliver product content, users are likely to get lost in a maze of disconnected information.

What’s the next step to guide your customers through product documentation?

If you know how to combine knowledge orchestration and enterprise search, then you can provide maximum relevant knowledge to your customers.

Knowledge orchestration enables explorability, instead of focusing on searchability, ensures consistent presentation, instead of forcing users to switch context and navigate to external browsers, and provides precise answers, instead of pointing users to often long, complex documents.

Read more about what your enterprise search is missing:

Download our complete ebook Why Enterprise Search is Not Enough and learn how your enterprise can answer customers’ questions better.
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