There are a few applications that are standard on almost all web sites. Every site should have a search engine, and there are some great search engines out there from companies such as Autonomy, Omniture, Google, and Surfray (Check out SearchTools). Every site should also have an analytics application such as those provided by Omniture, CoreMetrics, or Google. Most sites have a Content Management System such as TeamSite, Rhythmyx, Ektron, or Contribute. For applications such as ecommerce, chat, and application servers there are many excellent options in all price ranges for each category.
Then there is the crown jewel of customer support applications – the knowledgebase, where the number of good options a web developer has narrows significantly. Application providers like RightNow Technologies and Talisma provide good solutions . But they are priced out of the range of small to midsize companies. The knowledgebase is the key to customer self service. I don’t think the average user is very pleased with the phone support they get from the majority of companies they interface with. Good knowledgebase applications allow customers to solve their problems quickly and easily without forcing them to navigate frustrating phone trees. Knowledgebase applications show customers multiple ways to solve every common problem as well as give customers an easy ruote to rate the quality of support solutions. Yet, the vast majority of sites out there don’t have any knowledgebase to speak of.
One key point to make about knowledgebase applications as a part of web development is that they are probably the easiest application to calculate a healthy ROI. Good knowledgebase tools with excellent support content reduce call center volume, increase customer satisfaction, and offer excellent opportunities for personalized up-selling.