Interview with Bruce Eicher – Part Three

This is third and final part of the interview with Bruce Eicher, Vice President of Guide Care at ChaCha.

In this part of the interview, Bruce tells me about some software the company uses to monitor chats, details about their internal process group, how they deal with feedback, what tools they give guides, what changes to expect, and more.

Question: Do you have software that looks for key words and phrases that may mean a chat is doing well and bad?
Answer: We do that. We don’t allow anything with adult content, so we look for searches in that area. We look for Internet speak, which is a problem. We have software that looks for keywords and phrases that we know usually indicate a pure search. When those things are caught, we go back and do a much more indepth quality check on the individual guide. Again, it is all back to giving the guide feedback. We don’t look at it like “if you’re bad one time, then you’re done.” It is more along the lines of we want to try and figure out what you don’t know and give our guides some feedback along the way.

Question: How big is the internal process group?
Answer: Our customer support organization includes about 8 people. There are at least 2 people at any given time that spend most of their time on QC. There are also people we pull in from time to time. We are looking to increase that over time. We have other guides helping out when they vote on the results, and that is an almost automatic and perpetual QC method. Then we have other guides helping out with various QC processes as well. Over the past 2-4 weeks, we’ve been implementing a much more structured process.

Question: How do you deal with all the feedback that the guides provide?
Answer: It’s tough. I’ve been here about 9 months now during the initial startup of the system. Back in the summertime, there were all kind of things going on. Things have changed over time. We’ve added new services as we’ve realized that quality is as important as the number of transactions. The feedback we are getting from the quality guides is positive. They are looking at what we are doing. They would obviously like more volume. That is probably the biggest thing right now – volume. As we’ve increased our traffic levels, existing guides kept seeing more and more guides come in. The problem is that with more guides, each guide doesn’t get as much as traffic. That is why we have held back on adding more guides to the system. We are more focused now on increasing each guide’s traffic and the guide quality. We hear more than anything from our guides that they want more activity, and that is really just going to happen over time.

Question: What sort of tools and support does ChaCha provide to its guides?
Answer: We have a forum that all guides have access to. We have a knowledge base so if users have questions and need answers, they can find them there via search or browsing. If they can’t find their answer at that point, then they can submit an issue and it will be emailed to us. We will answer that and go back and forth with the user to solve the issues. Those are what I would term the interactive tools.

The actual application is our guide application that new guides are trained on when they are first brought into the system. The guide application itself is used to facilitate the live query and SMS searching and the Rate ChaCha Results piece. That is a tool they have on their system and that we continue to enhance with the goal being improved efficiency for our guides.

Question: What changes can ChaCha guides and users expect over the next couple of months or so?
Answer: We’re rolling out the SMS role to more and more guides. We’ll have a new service with voice, which will be another role for guides. We are going to a more user intuitive and user friendly guide application soon. Increasing traffic is going to be the biggest change over the next few months. With that, it actually increases the earning potential for guides.

Question: What is traffic like currently?
Answer: Traffic is good. We are in the millions of users. We’re looking to double that traffic monthly. Now that we have that viral growth, we want to double and keep growing. We feel pretty confident about how our systems are built from a scale perspective. We have focused a lot on sheer volume and scalability of the system. Right now it is improving the quality and growing the traffic.

[Service Untitled Note: You can get some information about ChaCha’s traffic here. It looks the site is growing well.]

Question: Anything to add?
Answer: I don’t think so. I appreciate your interest in us.

2 Responses to “Interview with Bruce Eicher – Part Three”

  1. Ankit said:

    Sep 01, 07 at 10:00 pm

    First, the ChaCha service is a great move towards a new way to search online.

    When I used the service though, one thing I think could improve is how professionally the guides communicate. I didn’t always see proper grammar, punctuation, and specifically, capitalization. I think that responses should start with a capital letter and either a period or question mark at the end.

    Btw, Bruce, if you’re reading this – I’m Mike’s friend, I had met you in the office a month or two ago. 🙂

  2. Service Untitled said:

    Sep 01, 07 at 10:51 pm

    Ankit, I think that is something they are working on emphasizing and trying to point out. It will be hard to do it with all of the guides, but it is getting there. None of the guides do more than one search at a time so there is no reason for there to be improper spelling or grammar.