For service organizations, the stakes are high in getting the right information to service technicians as fast as possible. The threat of equipment downtime for a service customer can have a devastating impact on the customer’s bottom line – a 2016 report by the Aberdeen Group found that the average cost of unplanned equipment downtime is $260,000 per hour.

Customers depend on timely and effective service, and service organizations depend on accurate and in-depth information (equipment manuals, documentation, FAQs, etc.) to perform that service. But a common problem hinders productive knowledge sharing: housing large volumes information, and providing access to the most relevant content.

Information can reside in disparate systems and knowledge bases, which means a service professional must first identify where to start, and then figure out how to find the answer. But what if they choose the wrong system? And how do you ensure all agents are on the same footing with how to navigate knowledge content?

A comprehensive, user-friendly, and easily accessible knowledge base empowers service teams with the information they need to deliver expedient, top-notch service. However, getting a knowledge base set-up has traditionally been a daunting and time-consuming task. Traditionally, knowledge management requires organizations to re-create pages and pages of documentation, upload each individual piece to the system, tag it, and then continually modify and monitor for any changes.

But now, thanks to Microsoft QnA Maker, creating a knowledge base can be as simple as clicking a button.

What is Microsoft QnA Maker?

Microsoft QnA Maker is an API service that allows you to quickly and easily consolidate content sources into a single knowledge base, and to put a conversational, question-answer layer over that knowledge content for users. Simply point the application to source material (website URLs, uploaded files, etc.), and it will automatically build question and answer datasets based on the source material – no coding required.

When the knowledge base is populated with content, users can pinpoint what they’re looking for by entering a question, and the application will instantly provide the answer. What’s especially helpful about the knowledge base is that it’s dynamic – it continually learns from interactions and subsequently adjusts or updates answers based on user behavior.

When a knowledge base is published, simply deploy it to a chat bot where users can interact with the knowledge content in a user-friendly chat experience. The bot reads the content within the knowledge base, and delivers answers based on that content. The bot is also dynamic, where any content changes you make in the knowledge base is immediately available from the chat bot once the knowledge updates are published.

Real-Life Use Case

Let’s take a look at how Microsoft QnA works with a use case from a manufacturing customer we’ve worked with recently.

The manufacturer has a unique customer service setup. Instead of sending a technician on-site, the manufacturer’s engineers are embedded on-site with the customer. When issues with the manufacturer’s equipment arise, the remote agent needs to access and understand complex technical information about that particular piece of equipment, and then relay that information to the on-site engineer.

The problem, however, is that there are over a dozen different systems where that technical information and documentation could be located. Remote agents struggle with quickly finding the information they need from such disparate knowledge systems, and on-site engineers struggle with receiving inconsistent information quality.

Knowledge Base Creation

In order to bridge the knowledge and communication gap between the two teams, Microsoft QnA Maker was enlisted to expedite the process of creating a robust knowledge base.

QnA Maker Screenshot 01

Here’s what Microsoft QnA Maker looks like when you upload documents or enter reference URLs as source material for knowledge content; the application automatically extracts questions and answers based on that content. (A single website and document reference creates over 100 pages of content!)

QnA Maker Screenshot 02

And you can also enable QnA Maker to have follow-up questions or suggested actions, so your team is better prepared for addressing any follow-on activities resulting from the original question/request.

The more you refine the knowledge content generated by QnA maker, the more value users will get from the application. As you make edits, you “save and train” the application, and it applies those patterns and data changes throughout the application. Its key advantage is that the application “learns” how your teams use the system. So as your team uses the application, their search and usage patterns also influence the application and help it get “smarter” on which questions and answers are the best fit.

Chat Bot Creation

Once you have some good content in place, you then have the option of deploying a chat bot.

QnA Maker Screenshot 03

In the screenshot above, we have asked the chat bot about the features of a specific equipment model, and since it found references in multiple locations of the knowledge base, it’s giving me multiple options to choose from.

As you can see in this example, we have deployed this chat bot on Microsoft Teams, but your chat bot doesn’t have to be deployed on Teams; using the Azure bot service, your chat bot can be deployed to any web application.

In Summary: The Benefits of Microsoft QnA Maker

  • Quick, Easy Knowledge Base Build: Building a traditional knowledge base is hard. No one is excited about the prospect of rebuilding and moving over a massive content library (or with rebuilding search syntax, or manually updating/refreshing content, etc.). Microsoft QnA Maker eliminates the difficulty, allowing you to get a functional knowledge base up-and-running in hours, not months.
  • Reduced Training Costs: Service team members can have varying levels of experience, and getting everyone up-to-speed on information and processes can mean a costly investment of time and resources. An easily accessible knowledge base helps automate instruction by putting the material that team members need instantly at their fingertips.
  • Service Consistency: Technicians will attempt to fill an information gap by drawing on personal knowledge and experience, and creating their own processes. But differences in skillsets and methods can translate to unpredictable service experiences for customers – which does not reflect well on the broader organization. A knowledge base serves as a single source of truth, providing greater accuracy and helping team members stay aligned to established service procedures and policies.
  • Customer Self-Service: In addition to valuable internal knowledge sharing capabilities, Microsoft QnA Builder offers an easy-to-build chat bot framework that supports external knowledge sharing. Chat bots serve a two-fold benefit of 1) getting answers instantly to your customers, and 2) enabling your service agents to focus on higher value-add opportunities by offloading repeatable tasks.

Get Started

As a full Microsoft stack service provider, Hitachi Solutions is often challenged by our customers to solve problems. Knowledge accessibility is one common problem, and Microsoft QnA Builder is a great solution for building and sharing knowledge in a fast, painless, and usable way.

If you’d like to get started on setting up Microsoft QnA Builder for your organization, reach out to us today and we would be happy to help.