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Combining two powerful technologies to get better search results.

by: Derek Barka Chief Technology Officer

SilverTech integrates Sitefinity CMS with Microsoft Azure to deliver better site search for Nova Scotia Power customers. 

Google, Siri and Alexa have changed the way we interact with the world. Answers to our questions are often just a Google search or voice ask away. These search habits extend to how your users find information on your website, also. A clear and easy to use navigation structure is extremely important in assisting site visitors in finding the information they need; however, Forrester Research reports that 43% of site visitors go straight to the site search box. This is especially true on large sites with lots of content. 

Providing utility customers with quick and direct answers. 

When designing the new Nova Scotia Power website, we knew search would be an important factor in improving overall customer experience. Site analytics clearly showed that visitors to their site consistently used the site search feature to try to find answers to their questions. 

Based on query research, we saw that the overwhelming majority of site search requests were variations of the same question looking for quick answers–such as those trying to find a billing payment center or telephone number. Had we implemented a standard site search focused on returning page results based on generic keyword weighting, customers wouldn’t receive the best possible customer experience because we’d be forcing them to click several times to get to the intended answer.   

How do I pay my bill?

Can I have more than one account?

Are compact fluorescent bulbs safe?

We wanted to be able to pro-actively answer commonly asked questions and bring those answers to the front of any search results–allowing most searchers to get the answers they were looking for right on the search results page. However, we also didn’t want to elongate the search results page to make it overwhelming.  

Combining solutions for better search experience. 

In order to implement this, we designed a Microsoft Azure based search solution that directly integrated with the Sitefinity Content Management System (CMS) powering the website. A knowledge base module was created in the CMS that allowed content authors to enter questions with knowledge base answers. It also allowed them to enter keywords associated with the KB Article that users may be searching for that applied to the article. 

A Microsoft Azure Search index was deployed for indexing the site’s page content and knowledge base articles. Search weighting rules were applied to give additional weight to the KB question and keyword fields. This allowed search hits within these fields to be given additional favor in ranking within the overall results. This provided the ability to promote KB articles within search results to be the “Recommended Answer” when their search score hit a certain scoring threshold. 

The user could then view recommended content right on the search results page by expanding a collapsible menu. 

The result of this is a much-improved customer experience for quickly finding answers to customers’ questions as well as an intuitive and easy to use search design. It is also incredibly easy for content authors to create new articles for commonly asked questions or update key terms on existing articles where analytics shows search questions that do not yet have quality results. Sitefinity’s extensible search architecture made the improvements possible and easy to implement. 

Visual screenshots of solution provided below: 

Nova Scotia Power Search Screenshot

 

Fig. 1: KB article information is delivered in collapsible menu on search results page. No need for user to click off for frequently requested information.

 

 

Nova Scotia Power Bill Pay

 

Fig. 2: Expanded menu showing visual of knowledge base article on the search results page.

 

 

Nova Scotia Power Knowledge Base

 

Fig. 3: Site admins can easily manage KB articles.

 

 

Nova Scotia Power Paying Your Bill

 

Fig. 4: Site admins can also manage keywords/queries associated with each article.