The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) this week announced the launch of Ask the Expert, a knowledge-based search engine that optimizes customer experience while conserving taxpayer dollars. This intuitive tool relies on self service to deliver reliable and relevant information 24/7, greatly reducing wait time and USDA resources associated with the previous system.
Ask the Expert connects with pre-existing USDA knowledge-base systems and leverages information from Food Safety and Inspection Service's AskKaren, www.fsis.usda.gov/food_safety_education/ask_karen/, and the Farm Service Agency's AskFSA, http://askfsa.custhelp.com/, enabling consumers to visit one place and receive a range of answers. Currently, the system holds nearly 2,000 questions and answers for a wide range of USDA issues and programs.
Frequently asked questions are stored in an online database that pulls data and information from all of USDA's agency resources.
In two short weeks, Ask the Expert has seen more than 1,625 customer use sessions and has answered more than 1,475 questions, boasting a self service rate of 90.8 percent. Over the next six months, additional questions and answers will be added to the knowledge base as a result of public inquiries, search patterns and new information. This system will "learn" based on feedback about the usefulness of answers and will expand over time.
Visit Ask the Expert online and view available information or submit an inquiry at www.usda.gov/askexpert.