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Improving SmartAssistant to suggest more useful answers
Answer ID 936   |   Last Review Date 04/22/2020

What can I do to make the SmartAssistant Suggested Solutions more useful?


SmartAssistant, All versions


The tips provided in this answer are useful for the SmartAssistant Suggested Solutions feature when responding to an incident or appending SmartAssistant solutions to a response with a workflow rule.

Regarding the SmartAssistant Suggested Solutions functionality, keep in mind that when reading an incident, a human can tell which words are important by the overall content of the question. Oracle B2C Service and SmartAssistant cannot do this. There is no means for the application to determine which words are most important in the incident based on the context involved.

SmartAssistant looks at all the words in the customer entry thread of the incident and does not evaluate contents in the response or notes threads. Then, SmartAssistant excludes words listed in the exclude_answers.txt file. Remaining words and words with the same word stem are included in the process for suggested solution.

Similarly, words listed as aliases in the aliases.txt are also considered a match. By default, words appearing in the Summary field are more important than those in the Description field. In addition, the frequency of the word (or words) in the Summary and Description fields are also taken into account when looking for the best suggested solutions.

Evaluate Configuration Settings

Several configuration settings affect the SmartAssistant suggestion solutions feature. You can configure the specific weighting factors associated with words included in specific answer fields.

In addition, suggested solutions rely heavily on answers located within answer clusters. Clusters are logical groupings of answers based on similar text, products, categories and answer relationships determined by end-user activity and linking from one answer to another within the same customer session. The SmartAssistant functionality determines the best answer cluster or clusters that match the search terms and then determines the best answers to suggest from within the cluster(s).

Review the options and settings listed below to affect how SmartAssistant determines suggested solutions:

Modify SmartAssistant Relevancy: Two configuration settings let you control how an incident's subject and body are treated to influence the way answers are returned to SmartAssistant. The value for SA_SUBJ_BODY_WEIGHTS includes three values: one for the weight of the incident subject text, one for the weight for the incident body text, and one for the bonus when both subject and body text are matched.

The SA_DISPATCH_RATIO value includes two values to define whether answers are returned based on the hybrid mode used by SA_SUBJ_BODY_WEIGHTS or on the standard SmartAssistant mode. The default value "100 0" mean that they will always be returned by the first mode, while "0 100" means they will always be returned by the standard mode.

The two values do not have to add up to 100. Instead they represent the odds that the first or second mode will be chosen. For example, "50 20" means that for every 70 requests, the first mode will be chosen 50 times, and the standard mode will be chosen 20.

Note: These configuration settings are also used to identify similar answers for the Smart Merge feature.

Increase or Decrease Weighting Factor for Answer Fields: You can customize the weighting used with words and phrases for the various text fields of an answer. This allows you to increase or decrease the weighting factor for specific types of answer fields, including the Keywords, Products, Categories, and Question and Answer fields For more information on modifying the search weights, refer to Answer ID 1771: Changing Search Weights in Answers.

Recluster your Answers: Answers are clustered automatically based on the amount of edits made to answers. You can schedule your answers to be reclustered the next time agedatabase runs.

Configuration menu > Service > Knowledge Base > Topic Browse. Enable the Schedule cluster regeneration checkbox and click Save.

Modify the Match Threshold for the Clusters: The SA_NL_MATCH_THRESHOLD configuration setting specifies the ability to restrict SmartAssistant suggested answers to answers that have the same or nearby clusters in the browse tree. Default is 1. The accepted values are: 0 - do not restrict, 1 - use answers from any closely matching cluster and sub-clusters thereof, and 2 - use only best matching clusters. If SA_DM_FREQ is set to 0, the value of SA_NL_MATCH_THRESHOLD will be forced to 0 regardless of the value displayed here.

Note: In later versions the SA_NL_MATCH_THRESHOLD (visible) and SA_DM_FREQ (hidden) are configuration settings. Submit a service request to Ask Technical Support for help editing this hidden configuration setting, SA_DM_FREQ. Customers have visibility into SA_NL_MATCH_THRESHOLD.

Since the default for this setting is 1, you can minimize the impact of the answer clusters by setting this option to 0. By setting this value to 0, the suggested answers will more closely match what would be returned with a normal answer phrase search. 

Path to setting(s): Select Configuration from the navigation area > Site Configuration > Configuration Settings > and search by Key.

Note: SmartAssistant will never behave exactly like a text search performed on the Answers tab because SmartAssistant uses different search procedures associated with clustering and weighting that standard searching uses.

Change the Restriction for Product or Category Matching with the Incident: The SA_SUGGEST_LIMIT_PROD_LVL and SA_SUGGEST_LIMIT_CAT_LVL configuration settings specify whether the suggested answers must match the product or category values of the submitted incidents and to how many levels deep. For example, if the value for SA_SUGGEST_LIMIT_CAT_LVL is set to 2, then the answers that are suggested must match the incident's category and sub-category values.

Set these settings to be 0 so that SmartAssistant is not restricted by the product and category values used in the incident and set in the answers.

Path to setting(s): Select Configuration from the navigation area > Site Configuration > Configuration Settings > and search by Key.

Enable Clustering Settings Enable the CLUST_ENABLED so that answers will automatically be clustered periodically.

Writing Answer Content

If you find that suggested answers do not seem to match the incident as well as you would like, there are some things you can do when writing your published answers. Keep in mind that the SmartAssistant Suggested Solutions are heavily influenced by the way the END-USER writes their request for assistance, that is, the specific terminology and phrases used in the submitted incident. For this reason, you can only do so much when writing your public answers. The items below, though, are worth considering:

  • Unique Words in Summary Field: Include key words that make the answer unique in the Summary field so that word will be weighted more heavily.

  • Limit Frequently Used Words in Summary: Avoid words in the Summary that appear in most of the public answers. For example, if your company sells cameras, avoid using "camera" in the Summary of most of your answers.

  • Use End-User Phrases: Try to use phrases that your end-users use. Matching a phrase is more likely to result in favorable suggested solutions, since not only are two individual words matching, but the two words together are also taken into account.

  • Avoid Repeating Familiar Words: Avoid repeating frequently used words within a single answer. Each time a word is used it will carry more weight.

  • Use the Keywords Field: Add other keywords and phrases to your answers by adding additional words and phrases to the Keywords field. Use a comma to separate each word and phrase listed.

  • Edit Summary of Submitted Incidents: Have your staff members edit the Summary field to pick more appropriate keywords than the end-user did and then save the incident. When the staff member re-opens the incident, the suggested solutions will take into account the contents of the edited Summary field.

  • Break Common Phrases: If several answers include a similar two- or three-word phrase, consider excluding one of the words so that the commonly used multi-word phrase does not get extra weight. For example, if you have a product named Wonderful Widget, consider adding either word to the exclude_answers.txt file so that the product name is not inadvertently weighted higher due to the two-word phrase.

To demonstrate how the SmartAssistant Suggested Solutions work, create a test incident with a single, unique word in the Subject and Description. Then open the incident from the administration side and click Suggestions From the suggested results, you should see that the answers returned do indeed include the word in the test incident. When more and more words are added to a submitted incident, it is not as easy to relate public answers to all of the significant words in the incident. For this reason, it appears that the suggested solutions may not be as relevant as you might like them to be.

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