Jeeves Powers Novartis Search Engines

Jeeves Solutions, a division of Ask Jeeves Inc., announced a customer win this week that gives the natural language search toolmaker a stronger presence in the pharmaceuticals industry. Novartis Pharmaceuticals announced Monday that it has incorporated JeevesOne across all 22 of its Web sites to help improve usability and gain insight into the wants and needs of its customers. Although Novartis sells its drugs directly to pharmacies, the company operates 22 Web sites dedicated to providing patients with information about specific products, health problems, and answers to questions about disease. According to Sam Rini, director of marketing for Novartis, the idea is to provide the more than 100 million online health care seekers with information that will encourage them to get to a doctor and request a prescription for a specific drug made by Novartis. Rini noticed 18 months ago that the average Novartis drug site had an abandonment rate of 80 percent. That meant people were visiting the sites, not finding the information they wanted, and immediately leaving. A usability search showed that using search technology was a primary way of navigation for Web site visitors. Novartis, which didn't have any search capabilities at the time, decided to add the functionality and opted for JeevesOne, because it allows visitors to ask questions using natural language. Rini says that that is not only an advantage to users but also for Novartis, because it allows the company to see exactly what users want and add that content if a pattern develops. As of January JeevesOne was rolled out to all 22 of Novartis's Web sites. A pilot program ran for nine months before being rolled out in October on the corporate site. During that short time, Rini says, the company has been able to see content gaps and fill them, as well as to lower abandonment rates to about 40 percent. Using Ask Jeeves's technology customers can find answers to questions like "What Novartis products treat cancer?" or "Where can I find information on a product free-trial offer?" and be directed to the appropriate answer or trial prescription. This enables Novartis to improve customer communication across all its Web sites by providing answers through guided self-service, contextual FAQs and automated enterprise search. Novartis will also use JeevesOne to escalate customers, when appropriate, to its Customer Interaction Center where live operators are available to handle email and phone inquiries. "Ninety-five percent of the content people are looking for is there, but they might not be able to find it," Rini says. "By getting them to a to live agent, that person will get the information and we find out that we need to change the content placement or add something that will make the information more immediately accessible." Rini adds that Novartis is looking at both hard and soft ROI from integrating JeevesOne. Of course the company wants to continue its increase in Web traffic, which went from 1 million unique visitors in 2001 to 8 million for 2002. But Novartis is also measuring how successfully it is able to deliver information to health care seekers, how many online coupons are redeemed, and increases in brand loyalty.
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