Presented by Coveo

Search is crucial to organizations today — internally, it’s a company’s fount of knowledge and data access; externally, it’s the backbone of web, ecommerce, and customer service. And IT professionals know how critical it is: According to a new study by Coveo, an AI-powered search, recommendations, and personalization company, 81% say that the importance of search has increased over the past year. In response, 85% have increased investment in search.

There’s a problem however: 92% of these IT professionals say their users expect their company’s search to be as good as or better than Google — but their technology just isn’t hitting the mark. As foundational as it is to the functioning of the organization, only 13% of organizations are excelling in search, while 99% struggle to deliver relevant search results.

As a result, frustrated employees are leaving companies, shoppers are abandoning retail websites when their search results miss the mark, customers are abandoning brands with poor service, and more.

“It’s a search relevancy crisis that’s threatening many aspects of every business,” said Louis Têtu, Chairman and CEO at Coveo. “That’s why the most mature businesses are using data and AI to turn search on its head, focusing on persons instead of content to solve the relevancy challenge, understanding that relevancy is in the eyes of the beholder.”

Ultimately, ineffective search costs revenue, impedes customer service, overwhelms employees, and turns shoppers off. In fact, the majority of online customers will bolt to new brands after three or more bad experiences. Organizations are finding themselves scrambling to secure fixes and make their search results better, or source search talent in a seller’s market — and are hitting stumbling blocks along the way.

But the issue with search is specific, organizational, and ultimately solvable, Tetu says, once a company recognizes the issues behind their struggle.

What’s holding search initiatives back?

They aren’t relying on AI: Only 15% of organizations have actually implemented AI. Yet, the vast majority of companies (93%) believe that AI is the future of search, and 82% include AI in their search stack. The combo of website visitor data, user profiles, and AI can not only optimize user experience, but eliminate the need to manually rank search results, boosting efficiency and improving ROI.

IT leaders say 55% of businesses are forced to hold off implementing AI because of other priorities, while a lack of resources is impeding more than half of the companies studied. AI tuning is also weighing on IT leaders’ minds, with 41% admitting they’re concerned about the impact it could have on their tech stack.

Multiple applications, many silos: IT departments are scrambling to manage a multitude of search applications across a single organization. Six in 10 companies are faced with managing multiple search indexes for different applications and supporting or tuning multiple search systems.

With entirely separate search applications to address specific search challenges, operating in silos, these search engines are dumbed down, losing out on the collective intelligence gained from using a unified search set.

Organizational dysfunction: Unsurprisingly, multiple search deployments cause organizational issues, with 84% report a lack of alignment across deployments.

How search gets fixed

“A few strategies put in place immediately would address search relevance challenges, justify search investments, and make the web experience better for all users,” Tetu says.

Standardize on one search platform: A single, unified search set can drive strategic search efforts across the entire enterprise. Sending all behavioral signals from each application to one search set makes search simpler to manage. When different lines of business identify their own search-related challenges and priorities, they can deploy search services on top of the unified search set.

Perhaps more importantly, adding more, diverse signals to the same search set improves machine learning algorithms, which makes for significantly more relevant search results for every application.

Don’t put all your eggs in one basket: While 95% of organizations are having trouble finding search experts who know how to fix issues, that tech talent shortage has hit third-party consultancies hard too. And while a whopping three out of four companies are turning to external partners to help them with search, odds are these partners won’t be the silver bullet that organizations are hoping for — so there are better places to spend your time and budget, like low-code/no-code solutions, open-source platforms, and more.

Low code/no code solutions: There’s a spotlight now on low-code or no-code solutions, and for good reason. These visual software development environments let users with little or no tech experience develop solutions by dragging, dropping, and connecting application components. It’s allowing business problem owners to get hands-on in developing solutions to the search issues they’re intimately familiar with, without needing the tech experience.

Don’t start from scratch: Open source offers a rich array of powerful search functions that can be leveraged with APIs. Look for technology that has significant documentation, as well as a community of users that can offer insight and support based on their own implementations. Platforms like Coveo offer the search functionality you need under the hood, while letting you handle the web content and interfaces that are directly user-facing.

Test your AI: Odds are that most companies have AI capabilities sitting within their search technologies, and not turned on. It’s easy to measure the impact AI has on search relevance by directing even a small percentage of search traffic through AI and correlating it with key KPI measures. And research overwhelmingly suggests that the impact will be impressive, improving a range of KPIs.

These strategies, and AI, boost order conversion rate and value, add-to-cart rate and cart conversion, or gross merchandising value for ecommerce. On the service and support side, it’s improved time-to-resolution, call deflection, and net promoter scores. For workplaces, it’s increased employee satisfaction and proficiency. And for websites, it’s closing content gaps, increasing engagement, and boosting conversions.

“We believe that relevance is critical to winning in the new digital experience economy,” Tetu says. “With the right technology and strategy, your search solution can deliver the relevant experiences that consumers and employees expect.”

Dig Deeper: Read the full report from Coveo: “4 Strategies to Overcome Obstacles and Improve Search Relevance.”

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