Tag Archives: decision tree maker

Avangate Startup Interview: Let’s Talk About Zingtree

Recently, our fearless leader, Bill Dettering, sat down with Avangate to talk about the ins and outs of what makes Zingtree such an effective SaaS tool. Check out some of the highlights from the interview below, and check out the entire thing on the Avangate blog!


Q1: Please tell us a bit about Zingtree. When and how did the company get started?

Zingtree was first sprouted in late 2013 by Tom Mayes and myself, the founders of Applian Technologies. We were seeing a lot of inefficiency in supporting Applian’s software products, and as such the first Zingtree-like troubleshooters were hard coded into the support path. After seeing a big reduction in support emails, we knew we had a winner, and so Zingtree was started.

Seven months later, the embedded troubleshooter concept was turned into a toolkit that anyone could use. With lots of testing and feedback, the Visual Designer and Content tools came to life, reporting was added, and Zingtree was ready to branch out to real customers. Since releasing, we’ve had a lot of interest from companies operating Call Centers, so we’ve gradually built more live support options into the product.

Q2: Meeting a real business need you’ve experienced firsthand gives you a major advantage. 

What does Zingtree do differently from alternatives in the market?

Incredibly, there are very few alternatives in our space, especially when the need for a product like Zingtree is so obvious. Technically, we offer unique features like “subtrees,” which allow decision tree publishers to easily reuse content across multiple knowledge areas. Our customization options are advanced as well.

Our experience in operating a B2C company for 20 years gives us an advantage in making Zingtree – a B2B company – incredibly accessible – our site has numerous example trees, and a prospective customer can try all of the tools and use the trees without even having to sign up for an account. It’s interesting when we demo for large companies, and they ask about “training.” We chuckle and tell them this has never been necessary since Zingtree is designed to be easy to use.

Our pricing model is also unique, in that it’s built around “pay for what you use.” Our confidence in Zingtree is really high, so we can offer this sort of value proposition to our customers and keep a profitable business model.

Keep reading the interview right here >>

Ready to get started with your own decision tree? Sign up or log in here.

How to Use Existing Login Credentials to Restrict Access to Decision Trees

security-blog

Some of our customers have asked for an extra level of security for their trees, such that only people authenticated via a corporate intranet can access it. This article shows how it’s done, for ANY login system on ANY intranet.

Universally restricting access is accomplished by having an internal server access the tree via a server-side include, rather than via a user’s browser via embedded code in the page. This means that all accesses of the tree come from a single corporate IP address or range. Zingtree has an IP filtering option for any tree, so it’s easy to restrict access and use whatever authentication processes are already in place on the corporate intranet.

The method described here can work with organizations using SSO (Single Sign On), or any other login system.

Here are the basics:

  1. Restrict access to your tree to just the IP address of your server(s). This is done via Zingtree’s Settings tool.
  2. Create a web page for the tree to display on your internal server. This page will include the necessary JS and CSS files to show the tree. Load your tree using a server-side call, instead of embedding it into an iFrame or linking to a URL hosted at Zingtree.com.

Examples

Here’s PHP source code for a simple server-side include.

See how this page appears.

Technical Details

The example above is written using PHP, but any server-side scripting language can be used.  Our demo is a template around which a URL for a tree can be loaded. This template contains all the CSS and JS files needed to display a functioning Zingtree decision tree.

Zingtree is built on top of Bootstrap 3, so the basic Bootstrap files are loaded.  There are a few custom controls as well included in the template.

You can swap out the PHP with Python, Ruby, Perl, or any other scripting language you choose.
Have any questions or comments about making your trees more secure? Talk to us!

How To Use One Tree for End-Users and Employees/Agents

updates-blog

We’ve had requests to make it easy to use one tree for both end-user support and internal agent usage. Rather than maintaining two separate trees, being able to have one source of content and show (or hide) parts between agents and end-users can be extremely helpful. So, we’ve introduced two new template tags that allow this to happen.

Demo

The Dual Use Agent and End-User Example Tree from the Zingtree Gallery shows how this type of tree is built and operated. You can switch between End-User and Agent views by opening the Show More Display Options link.

Creating Agent-Only or End-User Only Buttons

The first node in the demo has a button labelled “Other Options for Agents only”.  This button only appears when agents are viewing the tree, but not for end-users.  Here’s how this magic is done:

  • If you prefix the button label with AGENT_ , only agents will see that button.
  • Prefix a button with USER_ to show it to just end-users.

Creating Nodes with Dual Content

In the content area for any node, you can insert special tags that make the text visible to just agents, or just end-users.

To show content for agents only:

Surround the content with [[AGENT-ONLY]] and [[/AGENT-ONLY]].

To show content for end-users only:

Surround the content with [[USER-ONLY]] and [[/USER-ONLY]].

You can access these template tags from the content editor in any node:


Example

If your node content area looks like this…

This is the content for a node.

[[AGENT-ONLY]]Agent stuff shows here[[/AGENT-ONLY]]

[[USER-ONLY]]User content shows here[[/USER-ONLY]]

An end user will see this…

This is the content for a node.

User content shows here

And your agents will see this…

This is the content for a node.

Agent stuff shows here

How to Preview

The updated Preview tool lets you see content views for agents or end-users:

Implementation

Your agent-only content will appear in trees accessed via the Zingtree Agent Portal. You can also make this content appear by adding the following parameters to the URL for Zingtree hosted or embedded trees:

&agent_mode=1&apikey=YOUR_API_KEY

Substitute your API key for YOUR_API_KEY in the URL. You can find the API Key from the API page, or if you have multiple organizations at the bottom of the Organizations and Billing page.


Do you like this new feature? Or have any other comments? Please share with us!

Procurement Case Study: Philip Morris International

Philip Morris International + Zingtree

Streamlining complex operations processes in an interactive environment

Philip Morris International is the world’s leading global tobacco company, representing six of the world’s top international brands that span more than 180 markets. Largely focused on Research & Development, the company employs over 400 dedicated scientists, engineers, and technicians who work to develop less harmful alternatives to cigarettes.

P.M.I.’s Challenge

With the highly-regulated environment of R&D, strict guidelines for every process is necessary to mitigate risk and reduce error. PMI recognized a need to have clear, guided solution to ensure that every procurement was handled efficiently and accurately, without implementing a cumbersome system for employees to navigate.

Zingtree’s Solution

Interactive decision trees have allowed PMI to automate complicated procurement processes that follow stringent company regulations. By using standardized trees, the organization has minimized the risk of error while at the same time streamlining efficiency and reducing stress for their employees.

“Structured decision trees lead to increased efficiency, avoid constant repetition of efforts and also lead the users to increased autonomy and consciousness,” says Olivier Raffi, R&D Manager at Philip Morris International. “This type of automation allows free time and extended availability to deal with complex conditions with less time stressed support teams.”

About Zingtree

Zingtree is the most user-friendly, business-ready platform for creating and implementing interactive decision trees that deliver answers faster. Quickly create a decision tree that your site visitors, leads, trainees and/or customers navigate by clicking buttons to answer questions, and receive detailed analytics on how trees are being used. Zingtree makes it easy to guide anyone through complicated processes – there’s no better way to help people get answers and solve problems.

View the full Philip Morris International + Zingtree case study and download the PDF here


Want to see more? Explore the Zingtree Gallery for examples of how our decision trees and interactive solutions provide value for businesses!

Must-Have Support Tools for a Successful Startup

support tools for startups

Often strapped for time and funding, small businesses and startups can be faced with a difficult decision — how do we spend our resources and manpower on our product, website, marketing, and customer relationships equally? Having a well-rounded customer support strategy isn’t always easy to keep up with. However, taking the time to make the right optimizations to your support system will help you retain customers, gather more helpful feedback for your growing company, and keep everyone happy.

Who says startups can’t offer an exceptional customer service experience? Here are our favorite customer support tools to help you make the most of your service.

Intercom

Having a live chat support functionality built into your website is an incredibly useful way to connect with customers who have any questions or issues to address. As a small business ourselves, we love using Intercom because it allows us to automatically track both chat and email interactions with each customer, as well as provide completely personalized one-on-one support.

The convenience factor can be huge in a customers’ decision to either get help or quit using your product/service. Intercom allows small businesses and startups of all sizes to engage with customers quickly and directly, without taking out a lot of time in the normal work day.

Bonus Tip: Link up Intercom with Zingtree to get background information from your customers before you start a live chat.

Zendesk

Everyone’s favorite support software earned the title for good reason. Zendesk provides a cloud-based customer service platform that’s been specifically designed to bring businesses and customers together, having all conversations and support requests centralized, searchable and totally organized.

There’s often not a lot of time in a day for startup workers to evaluate new software, but finding the right kind of CRM is important to scale. Developing a hyper-efficient CRM process can take a little time to prepare, but is guaranteed to help you build and maintain great relationships with people.

Bonus Tip: Integrate Zendesk with Zingtree to give customers a decision tree for self-solving, or allow them to submit a Zendesk ticket with their full tree history if they can’t find a solution.

Zingtree

Online knowledge bases and FAQs are a must-have for any startup or small business. But, customers searching for specific answers or step-by-step solutions to a technical issue, these knowledge bases of articles can be intimidating and frustrating. Zingtree allows you to create customized, interactive decision trees and troubleshooters to provide always-available, guided help to your customers.

Our platform lets you add visuals like GIFs and videos to provide more context, and has publishing tools to let you embed your trees into WordPress or any other website page for seamless integration with your existing online presence. Plus, you can gather feedback through comments to make optimizations even easier.

Bonus Tip: We integrate with a ton of other helpful tools and apps for startups and small businesses, so you can easily link up and share information between platforms.

Twitter

More than just a social media platform or means of distributing your business’ content, Twitter is an incredibly helpful medium for basic support communications. So many consumers are turning to the ease and accessibility of social media to share issues and ask questions, and startups can offer up ultra-fast, bite-sized responses to solve problems through replies and more lengthy direct messages.

Not just for the youngsters anymore, adults of many ages are now using Twitter to keep up with their interests, as well as brands they love. It’s free, fast, personalized enough to please consumers, and simple enough for even the smallest of startups to lend resources to.

Bonus Tip: We’re also on Twitter – follow us and ask us anything!

Grasshopper

Sometimes customers just want a direct line, straight to the source of the information. For startups working with the elderly, those with poorly-functioning Internet, or otherwise technically-challenged customers, having a phone can be a huge benefit. Grasshopper allows you to make a new business-only line from your own personal cell phone, so you can easily field questions anywhere, anytime.

Perfect for startups with remote (or distributed) teams like us, Grasshopper is a cool way to stay in contact with customers while keeping your existing number, and even allows you to send texts through your business number to work through things with clients and customers on-the-go.


Ready to help make your startup even more customer-friendly? Get a free Zingtree account today

The Ultimate Online Decision Tree Maker for Any Need

A decision tree maker is the best tool for simplifying complicated processes, including those frequently faced in customer support, technical troubleshooting, sales optimization, training, program enrollment, and communications, to name a few. Presented in a customized, standardized, and completely interactive environment, decision trees have the potential to make a huge impact on the efficiency and effectiveness of any business or organization.

Zingtree is an online decision tree maker that allows you to quickly build, customize and publish interactive decision trees online, and comes fully-loaded with real-time analytics and reports.

How to Use Zingtree’s Decision Tree Maker

Our powerful decision tree maker toolkit allows you to create trees in a few unique ways:

1. Start from Spreadsheets

Easily draft and import any Google Sheets or Excel document into Zingtree and turn it into a decision tree. Once imported, you can enhance using powerful editing tools that offer more decision tree-related functionality than spreadsheets alone.

2. Draw It out With Designer

Designer lets you easily “draw” a decision tree. On a single display, you’ll be able to view and create the nodes and pathways for your decision tree and see exactly how it’ll flow.

Watch the Designer tutorial video here.

3. Quickly Create Using Wizard

Wizard builds a tree through prompts, using a form-based approach. The tool walks you through how to make a decision tree, while you input the questions and answers.

Watch the Wizard tutorial video here.

4. Build From Scratch With Overview

Overview is a form-based option for creating trees node-by-node. The editor has tools for refining to perfection and is ideal for content-rich decision trees.

Watch the Overview tutorial video here.

No matter the method, here’s an example of how your decision tree will look:

Tips for Great Decision Trees

Basic decision trees can always get the job done, but with a little bit of added effort, you can gather amazing data, as well as really blend into your company brand or personality.

Need more help getting started? Have a question? Want more tips? We’re always here for you

Educational Decision Tree Case Study: Lego League + Zingtree

FIRST LEGO League Team “Loading…” + Zingtree

Grade school students use decision trees to bring science to life with LEGO

Each year, FIRST LEGO League releases a challenge based on a real-world scientific topic. Teams of up to ten children, with at least one adult coach, participate by programming an autonomous robot to score points on a themed playing field, developing a solution to a problem they have identified all guided by the FIRST LEGO League Core Values.

Teams may then attend an official tournament to compete on a regional level – it’s one of the most creative and tech-friendly events that exists for kids today.

The Challenge

This year’s theme was “Animal Allies,” wherein the students sought to find a way to help animals and humans live better together. The innovative Loading… FLL Team from Minneapolis, comprised of six amazing child-engineers and two helpful adults, tackled the problem of owners not being able to care for their pet before they commit to the well-being of adopting an animal.

Zingtree’s Solution

Creating an interactive decision tree provided Loading… with the perfect platform to guide potential pet owners through the process of adopting an animal, and what pet would be the right fit.

“Zingtree had setup tutorials as well, which made making a pet decision tree all the much easier. We found that it was an easy to use, easy to edit decision maker that allowed many options. Overall, Zingtree was a great tool that made our app making successful and fast.”  

The Loading… team took their hands-on science efforts to tournament this year, thanks to their very own FIRST LEGO League decision tree.


About Zingtree

Zingtree is the most user-friendly platform for creating and implementing interactive decision trees that deliver answers faster. Quickly create a decision tree that your site visitors, leads, trainees and/or customers navigate by clicking buttons to answer questions, and receive detailed analytics on how trees are being used. Zingtree makes it easy to guide anyone through complicated processes – there’s no better way to help people get answers and solve problems.

View the full Lego League + Zingtree case study and download the PDF here


Want to see more? Explore the Zingtree Gallery for examples of how our decision trees and interactive solutions provide value for businesses!

New Auto-Arrange Tool: Creating Nice Visual Layouts for Decision Trees

autoarrange-blog

When using the Zingtree Wizard, or the Excel or Google Sheets Import tools, one of the drawbacks is that when you view those trees in Designer, there is no initial data for the visual representation of your tree. We’ve been working on making sure the Traffic Map report and Designer views look good when you first open a tree not created with Designer, and now we finally have a solution: the Auto-Arrange Tool.

Auto-Arrange uses a combination of Artificial Intelligence and the laws of physics to come up with an optimal layout for your tree. It turns out that this is a difficult problem to solve, and while we feel it can be improved, this solution will save you a lot of time from manually rearranging the layout of your trees – especially really big ones.

One of the fun things about Auto-Arrange is that you can watch it working as it rearranges and repositions nodes in real-time.

auto-arrange-1

When you first open the Traffic Map report or Designer tool, you’ll be offered a chance to use Auto-Arrange. Next, Auto-Arrange will attempt to organize your decision tree in a tree-like fashion. If that doesn’t work, it will switch to a “network” view, which is less hierarchical. You can also switch views manually, and play with some of the parameters used to render the tree layout.

Here’s how our Pet Rock demo appears in Tree view (scaled down):

Here’s how the same tree looks in a Network display:

Once you are done playing with Auto-Arrange, you can proceed to Designer and your new layout will automatically become a part of the design.

Want to try it out? You can access Auto-Arrange from within Designer.

Is this new tool helpful? Fun? Let us know!

Decision Trees for Business: How to Streamline Procurement

Having a well-defined, charted procurement process is vital for company operations in any industry to run smoothly. The proper purchasing of necessary materials can often mean the difference between a successful company and one that ultimately falls due to unsustainable costs or purchasing delays.

For Zingtree customer Phillip Morris International (PMI), standardizing procurement with decision trees has helped keep costs in line and the process consistent for many disparate departments. Anyone buying anything at PMI can now adhere to the company-approved process. This results in employees getting the tools they need faster and more efficiently.

Optimizing the Procurement Process

Is procurement working effectively to support your company’s over-arching strategy?

Without the proper processes set in motion, your organization may be losing out on a lot of revenue and opportunity for growth. And, while the entire process of making an inefficient procurement system better may be complicated, and ultimately take time for decision-makers to come around to, there are platforms to help simplify and understand. After revisiting current processes and looping in the necessary departments, selecting the right kind of technology is key in the optimization process.

Without a mature, strategic procurement function to influence, control and report on organizational spending, it is impossible for a business to fully leverage its total purchasing power and create the value and service levels required from third party suppliers.” – PwC

Structure, sequence and regular analysis are crucial for an effective procurement process. For PMI, using Zingtree decision trees to guide the procurement process has proven to be an enormous help, allowing buyers to follow complicated processes in a lean, interactive environment that greatly reduces the risk of human error.

Balancing complexity and control with ease, PMI’s decision trees have automated processes with a clearly-defined and company-compliant approach. Plus, management now has real-time usage data to assist in further optimization. By utilizing a guided process of procurement internally, any business can standardize best practices to ensure that every purchase process is handled exactly the way it needs to be.

Ready to start streamlining your procurement, or other business processes? Please get in touch with us!

Making Dynamic Data Collection Forms

YouAsked

One of our larger customers requested the ability to make a list box that can change depending upon a selection made previously while using a decision tree. If you are doing data collection, this can really simplify things for your end-users.

Demo

For a demo, we’ve built a tree that asks you to select a state in the USA, and from there shows a list of cities in that state.  You can try the demo here.

Setup Overview

This tree uses Zingtree Webhooks. Here’s how we built it:

  1. We created a PHP script for our state-to-city list box generator. This script receives a state code, and returns JSON with a variable called pick_a_city that contains an HTML list box to pick a city in that state. This will be the Webhook URL. It looks like this:
    https://zingtree.com/demo/get-cities-from-state.php?state=#state#

    Substitute #state# with the 2 letter abbreviation for your state to see the results, or just use this example for Alaska.

  2. We created a new Webhook called “City/State Lookup” (under Account > My Apps) with the URL in step 1.

  3. The first node contains a list box with all of the states. The selection is stored to a variable named state. The only button in this node goes to node #2. The end-user view for node #1 looks like this:

  4. Node #2 calls the Webhook we created with the state variable from node #1. The Webhook returns HTML for a list box that replaces a placeholder in node #2 called #pick_a_city#. Here’s the content area for node #2:

    Under Advanced Options, we tell node #2 to send a message to our City/State Lookup Webhook before it loads, like this:

Source Code

  • You can see the entire tree here.
  • The PHP source code for the Webhook URL script is here.
  • The URL for the Webhook is:
    https://zingtree.com/demo/get-cities-from-state.php?state=#state#

Need More Info?

Questions or suggestions? Just holler!