I just wondered if anyone has customized Tridion to manage their online customer help portal, with help articles, advanced search, dynamic FAQ lists, etc. I feel like it is unlikely, as SDL themselves are using the same knowledge management system as we do (Moxie) to support their customers. Maybe this could get more likely in v2013?
Tridion is a very generic content management system which exerts no restrictions on the type of application it can be used for. You can architect Tridion to deliver content to any type of application.
So the simple answer is yes and no.
Tridion can not be used as a customer help portal out of the box, however, if you want to build the yourself, it could be.
The decision you will have to make is, do you want to build a custom portal (factors: features, cost, time etc..) vs. buying an off the shelf product.
Tridion has very powerful APIs, so given the right off the shelf product, Tridion could still be responsible for the content management of articles, FAQs etc...
The features you have described (help articles, advanced search, dynamic FAQ lists, etc) would be relatively easy using a Tridion powered web application. It might get a bit more tricky if you want to run real support tickets.
One of the projects we've worked on in the past sounds pretty similar to what you're looking for.
The customer was using SDL Tridion for their websites / applications and was looking to rebuild their internal help site for the customer support team of this particular client. Their support team receives a call and they then use the help site to quickly search and answer questions for the customer etc.
Functionality included : search, dynamic faqs, content taxonomies etc etc.
This made sense as we'd built a lot of content, layout and functionality for their websites that we could re use into the internal help sites, if your client is using SDL for other projects, i'd recommend there's a lot to gain from using it to build the help portal.
I have worked on a Tridion implementation where it was used to provide a customer support portal. Yes, Tridion can be used for customer support portals. Tridion published content to a database and the web application used AJAX and a REST API to serve the content to a call center with about 1,000 employees.
Tridion is a Content Management System that's focused towards web content management. Software always performs best when you use it the way it is meant to be used. So, as a Knowledge Management tool, Tridion may not be great. But if you wanted it to store and publish content for a knowledge management tool, then Tridion would do very well.
Especially if the content or knowledge is shared between both internal and external users (i.e. intranet and website), Tridion would be a very powerful tool for your organization.