The best answer to a member’s problem might not be in response to a question posted in your community. It might be in documentation your company has created already but never duplicated in the community. It might be published in the help centre. It might even be shared in another social network/community (reddit/StackOverflow/GitHub/YouTube etc..)
If your search bar only retrieves information from your community, you’re limiting the ability of your members to find the information they need.
The community managers at the biggest communities have long realized that native search (the search function that comes with the platform by default) doesn’t quite cut it. Native search doesn’t typically let you:
- Query multiple databases and retrieve the answers which best match the query.
- Let you boost the best/most updated answers above others or older content.
- Create keyword synonyms showing relevant results even if members don’t quite know the answer.
- Identify and close content gaps (queries which don’t retrieve a satisfactory result).
- Use AI/machine learning to display the answers which best solve a member question.
- Show relevant content/queries alongside existing content/questions.
- Track call deflection using queries which prevent members opening a ticket.
- Analyze what members need in depth, and feed that information back to product, support and marketing teams.
Upgrading your search bar doesn’t come cheap (a license with Coveo/SearchUnify/others costs $20k to $50k per year), but it could also be a bargain.
It’s a bargain if it helps thousands of extra members a year find the answer to their question.
It’s a bargain if it also shows community solutions alongside others in the help centre.
It’s a bargain if it encourages hundreds of members to collaborate together to close the content gaps the tool has identified.
It’s a bargain if it accelerates how you develop products and gives you insights into exactly what your community needs.
It’s a bargain if it helps you to prove the incredible value of your community.
Your native search is fine when you’re just getting started, but if you’ve got a lot of documentation sitting outside of the community, have 50k+ members, and want to provide members with the best search experience, you might need to upgrade.