Feature Change for Pro-Members

  • Pro-members using Microsoft Internet Explorer 8 will see a browser notification banner across the top of MindTouch. The banner is being added to encourage pro-members to upgrade to a browser that offers a more optimal experience. The banner will not be visible to community members or anonymous users. If you have any further questions or comments please contact the MindTouch Customer Success Team.

Table of Contents Restructuring
In this release we altered the HTML structure of the table of contents that displays on article pages. The table of contents displays the headings of a page as links for easy navigation of the page’s sections.

​The current HTML structure of this area is shown below:
HTML1
​In the new HTML structure, the span elements that contain the numbering for each heading has been removed. Instead, CSS Counters (https://developer.mozilla.org/en-US/docs/Web/Guide/CSS/Counters) will display the heading numbers to the left of each link.
HTML2​If you have previously altered the look and feel of your table of contents, you may want to review your custom CSS to ensure that you do not have any CSS rules that rely on the span elements.

Known Issue: Table of Contents Bugs for TCS Deployments

  • TCS articles that use the DekiScript Template call: “template(“MindTouch/IDF/Views/TableOfContents”);” in order to display the table of contents on a page by default, will notice that the numerical values for the table of contents will not display.  The MindTouch Engineering team is looking into this issue and will have a resolution in the following release.  If you have any questions or concerns please contact the MindTouch Customer Success Team.

Known Issue: Usage Report Update

  • An encoded symbol in one of the MindTouch API calls is causing the MindTouch Usage Report to display incorrect HelpRequest data. This issue has affected the HelpRequest data since February 12th, 2015. HelpRequests represent the end-user activity on your MindTouch site including page views, searches and file downloads. The HelpRequest data has not been lost, it is simply being logged incorrectly. We are looking into this issue and should have it resolved soon. If you have any questions or comments please contact the MindTouch Customer Success Team.

Bug Fix for PDFs:

  • Previously, when attempting to generate a PDF from a page that contained special characters in the URL (& ; ‘ \ ? “), the PDF engine would display an error. In the March 26th release you will see this issue resolved.

Bug Fix for Editors:

  • Currently, the MindTouch Edit Link dialog will not load if the title of your article began with numbers. This issue has been resolved for the next release. 

Bug Fix for Customer Success Agents

  • When using the MindTouch User View and Search Activity tool, Pro Members who did not have access to view the activity of other Pro Members would receive an incorrect error message stating: “You do not have permissions to view this page – please try signing in.” The error message has been updated with the correct messaging and now states “You do not have permission to view {user name}’s activity.” If you would like to provide access to your Customer Success Agents to view Pro Member activity please contact the MindTouch Customer Success Team.

New and Updated Documentation

Customer engagement begins in their shoes

The term customer engagement suffers from many definitions. What’s clear regardless of the definition is that customer engagement is critical in this age of the customer. A finding by McKinsey shows that up to 70% of a customer’s buying experience is based on how they feel they are being treated speaks to this. Companies need to connect with their customers positively, or else they’ll leave (with their money) as quickly as they came.

A lot of great things have been written about how to cultivate customer engagement. But I think the why of customer engagement is lacking the same attention, as in, why customer engagement is important—beyond metrics, and even beyond the bottom line.  That’s why I’d like to make the business case for empathy.

Empathy can be defined as putting yourself in another person’s shoes. It’s a way of creating relationships by seeing the world through somebody else’s eyes. Empathy in the business world is gaining traction as a way to discuss interoffice relationships and leadership skills. But the conversation hasn’t shifted to the customer-business relationship, perhaps with the exception of customer journey mapping (at least, the customer journey maps that really take into consideration the motivations and barriers customers face). I’d like to argue that, for customer engagement to succeed, it has to begin with empathy.

Empathy at Work

In a scene from one of my favorite episodes of The Office, entitled “Business School,” a dejected Pam stands in front of her art exhibit after enduring the critiques and ribbings of her friends and co-workers. As she is meekly packing up her pictures, her boss, Michael Scott, arrives. With sincere wonderment in his voice as he takes in each piece, he tells her how proud he is of her artwork. Pam responds with a tearful hug and emotional thank you.

Though Michael Scott is oftentimes a hapless, self-centered boss, in this instance he recognizes and responds to Pam’s desire: to have her hard work appreciated. Michael is able to empathize with Pam’s situation because he recognizes the connection between her feeling of belittlement at the art show and his feelings of belittlement during his business school presentation earlier in the day.

Pam at her art show. Image via rebloggy

Pam at her art show. Image via rebloggy

Now let’s think about this scene as a customer-business interaction. Pam (the customer) has a problem (feeling unappreciated). All of the other characters (other businesses), failed to understand her problem in their responses to her. Michael (another business) is able to empathize with her problem. If McKinsey is right, and 70% of the buying process is based on how consumers feel they’re being treated, Michael has undoubtedly won or kept her business.

Customer Engagement through Empathy
 Empathy represents the fundamental building block of customer engagement. If a business can put itself in the customer’s shoes when creating a customer engagement strategy, then they’ve unlocked the key to making customers truly feel engaged with, listened to, important. While that seems like a daunting task, social media channels make these sort of one-to-one engagements possible. Customers are constantly reaching out to companies to express emotions like frustration or appreciation through Twitter and Facebook. Rather than being affronted, or brushing them off as “just one person,” these interactions offer a chance to engage a customer—meaningfully—by empathizing with their feelings.

But placing empathetic engagements solely into the realm of social media is unfair to the marketing department, and it misses a lot of opportunities to connect with your customers.

But we do know that one of the most common feelings customers feel: helpless. And, let’s call it what it is, frustrated. These two emotions are detrimental to customer success. Empathizing with these feelings, and then addressing them, will have huge benefits for your customers and your business.

Customer journey mapping is one tool companies use to put themselves in their customer’s shoes. But these maps often focus on how to drive customers to the next step, or how to better market to them.  What we need is a customer journey map that addresses how to overcome their frustrations, because frustration absolutely kills any chance at customer success.

If we can figure out what frustrates our customers at every step of the journey, and then provide them the resources that they need to overcome the frustration, customer success and customer engagement will become a much more attainable goal. That’s the “why” of customer engagement initiatives: to get your customers to be successful. And that’s why the content that your company creates needs to be empathetic, tailored towards ensuring customer success—from ease of use all the way to the value of the content itself. 

Our customers are people, and they occasionally become frustrated with our products. But if we understand this, and give them the resources they need to overcome the frustration, frustration will give way to people using your products. Isn’t that the point? To make people’s lives better with the products we make? But to do that they need to be able to become experts. All of the stuff customer engagement initiatives try to plot out—lead generation, conversion points, upselling opportunities—will follow if we begin from an empathetic mindset.

I guess most of this long article (sorry) could be summed up by The Office’s Michael Scott:

“Business is always personal. It’s the most personal thing in the world.” 

shutterstock_65133961

The Internet has allowed consumers to become increasingly savvier when it comes to their relationships with companies. From researching products, to pricing, to user forums, the Internet has helped shift the playing field towards the consumer’s favor.

This has left businesses scrambling to keep up. One of the ways companies are doing this is customer journey mapping. As this article from the Harvard Business Review outlines, a customer journey map is a great way to understand the motivations and barriers customers experience with your brand.  It provides a more holistic view of your customer’s experience than any metric like Customer Satisfaction Scores or Net Promoter Scores. 

Customer journey maps can take many forms, depending on the industry and the variety of touch points made available to customers. Generally, though, they cover the same four stages: pre-sales, sales, use, and renewal. The image below is a complex example of a travel company’s customer journey map.

 

Customer journey map via Usability Geek

Customer journey map via Usability Geek

As I mentioned earlier, the great thing about customer journey maps are their ability to show companies, from the customers point-of-view, how the various departments in their organization work together to affect the customer journey. It can seem, at times, that Support and Sales can be worlds apart because they exist in a silo, responsible for one discreet part of the customer journey. By painting a broad picture of the customer’s experience, companies can illustrate how issues upstream dictate future motivations and barriers downstream.

But there is a crucial element to these maps missing. Knowing the motivations and barriers is a great start. But the customer journey map really begins to turn into a super tool for the entire organization is when the content produced to your organization is mapped onto it as well.

By mapping the content your organization produces—from the FAQs, product documentation, and support documents—to the entirety of the customer journey, it not only grants you greater insight into the motivations driving customers and the barriers they face. Rather, it becomes a way to accelerate customer success. By providing customers easy access to the valuable content they need at each stage of the customer journey, you can help them overcome those barriers.

For example, an accountant looking for accounting software (pre-sales) might turn to Google to search for a cloud-based software that could handle multiple currencies. By understanding these common motivations (the selling points), an accounting software company would know to make available the documentation the accountant needed to continue on her journey with their company, rather than a competitor.

Mapping the content your organization has to the customer journey not only helps you further understand the customer, but it can also help you understand where your documentation is lacking.  By addressing these issues and covering the customer journey with the needed content, you can build more robust and user-friendly content that will have ripple effects throughout the entire organization. By creating smarter customers from the first touch point, everything from marketing to renewals will be better positioned to ensure your customer’s success. 

March 26th Release – Table of Contents Restructuring

On March 26th, 2015 we will be altering the HTML structure of the table of contents that displays on article pages. The table of contents displays the headings of a page as links for easy navigation of the page’s sections.
​The current HTML structure of this area is shown below:
HTML1

In the new HTML structure, the span elements that contain the numbering for each heading has been removed. Instead, CSS Counters (https://developer.mozilla.org/en-US/docs/Web/Guide/CSS/Counters) will display the heading numbers to the left of each link.

HTML2

​If you have previously altered the look and feel of your table of contents, you may want to review your custom CSS to ensure that you do not have any CSS rules that rely on the span elements.

March 26th Release – Feature Change for Pro-Members

  • In the March 26th release, pro-members using Microsoft Internet Explorer 8 will see a browser notification banner across the top of MindTouch. The banner is being added to encourage pro-members to upgrade to a browser that offers a more optimal experience. The banner will not be visible to community members or anonymous users. If you have any further questions or comments please contact the MindTouch Customer Success Team.

Known Issue: Usage Report Update

  • An encoded symbol in one of the MindTouch API calls is causing the MindTouch Usage Report to display incorrect HelpRequest data. This issue has affected the HelpRequest data since February 12th, 2015. HelpRequests represent the end-user activity on your MindTouch site including page views, searches and file downloads. The HelpRequest data has not been lost, it is simply being logged incorrectly. We are looking into this issue and should have it resolved soon. If you have any questions or comments please contact the MindTouch Customer Success Team.

Feature Change for Link Editor

  • Previously, the search interface within the MindTouch Update Link dialog would only display the top six most relevant results. As of the March 12th release, the results will now employ infinite scrolling. Infinite scrolling will auto populate more results as you scroll to the bottom of the visible result set. The infinite scrolling will stop once you reach the last result.

Bug Fix for Editors

  • Previously, when you would cut or paste a section of text, the word and character count in the MindTouch Editor would not update. In the next release the character and word count will update when cutting and/or pasting content into the MindTouch Editor.
  • The MindTouch editor was experiencing an intermittent issue that occasionally caused problems with the copy functionality. This issue occurred only when using the right-click menu. Given the inconsistent nature of this issue, it is likely that you did not encounter it. The root cause of this issue has been identified and resolved in the next release. 
  • When dragging external content to the MindTouch editor or dragging content within the MindTouch editor, an issue was occurring that caused the addition of non-breaking spaces (&nbsp) to the page HTML. The additional non-breaking spaces could cause formatting issues with PDF’s and external content usage. In the next release, you can expect that your page HTML will remain nbsp; free when dragging content. 

New and Updated Documentation

beachfront property

In 2014, there were nearly 2.1 trillion searches (that is 2,095,100,000,000 searches) through Google. It’s an amount incomprehensible to the human mind. In 2014, the estimated percentage of web traffic that came from organic search was 64%. But what is most significant is that the very first search result gets twice as many clicks as the second spot (and if you’re not on the first page of Google’s results? Fuhgeddaboudit!).

The web pages your company produces are like online real estate. At the top of the results are the Malibu beach houses. The second and third results are the nice McMansions in the suburbs. After the first page of results, we’re talking vacant lots with tumbleweeds rolling through.  The challenge for businesses is to provide quality web pages that rank highly in Google’s search algorithms. But what’s often optimized is the marketing materials—the valuable help content is often kicking tumbleweeds on page 3, if it is able to be searched for at all.

So what are you doing to maximize your online real estate? The trend for natural search is that it is becoming increasingly beneficial for companies’ sales and marketing initiatives. Blogs and a social media presence are one way to help customers connect with your brand. But if you’re relying on searches to convert visitors into leads, then the picture is a bit more grim, as Search Engine Watch found that natural search accounted for only 17% of traffic for lead generation-based sites (form fills).

Don't leave your customers in a content wasteland.

Don’t leave your customers in a content wasteland.

If you’re a B2B company, this statistic is troubling, as these leads are a vital source of new customers. The statistic tells us one thing in particular: people don’t want to be sold to. What they want is the ability to research a product without the pressure to buy, buy, buy.

By turning all of the help content you’ve probably already created into web-native, search engine optimized content, you can kill two birds with one stone. The first is the problem of real estate: you want all of your content to be Malibu beachfront property.  Not only does this reduce customer effort in finding what they need, but it makes your content (which should be the authoritative content) seem like the right answer because in Google we trust.

The second bird is that you’re providing customers throughout all stages of the customer journey the opportunity to engage with the valuable content that they need to be successful customers. In doing so, you’ll be able to gain insight into the customer journey, by understanding what content is effective for driving sales, resolving support cases, and pushes researching customers into the sales funnel. 

By reducing customer effort to discover the content and by analyzing the content that drives sales, you can optimize how your sales team delivers valuable content to the customer. This content is what customers look for to feel assured that they won’t be left out to dry once they’ve signed on with your company.  By creating all of this online real estate through your help content, you can engage the customers in the buying process on their own time.  That’s why we talk about smarter customers and faster sales. Customers will know more about how they will be successful with your product, which drives the sales process forward since much of the validation is already complete.

So let’s set up shop somewhere our customers want to be—somewhere, tumbleweed free.

usingphonesmall

Multi-channel support is a double-edged sword for companies. The benefit in providing multi-channel support is that it provides points of interactions for a range of customers. By providing the customer their choice of channels, you’re reducing the effort it takes to receive support assistance. Whether it’s through Twitter, email, phones, or chat, customers have direct access to the company’s support.

The other edge—the dangerous edge—of multi-channel support is that you run the risk of creating silos of information in each channel. As this post from Dudley Larus at Genesys discusses, the flaw of multi-channel support is its lacking the ability to communicate across channels, and it’s hurting the customers. Multi-channel support as a customer engagement tool is useless if the channel cannot consistently provide the customer the valuable content they need.

Enter Omni-Channel

Larus talks about killing multi-channel in favor of omni-channel support, which Genesys defines as an expansion of multi-channel interaction “by using multiple channels over a series of interactions with context.” Omni-channel support doesn’t simply favor the customer service aspect, as it provides companies the “ability to proactively engage the customer to provide support or close a sale” in the same way.

Context is a crucial aspect improving the customer experience. But before companies can dive deep into understanding the context of the customer journey through the various channels, they need to have the content to effectively engage the customer. Yes, content drives customer engagement. Without the content to define the context, there is little data for companies to hang their hats on–or personalize their sales and support pitch. This data, ultimately, is what companies need to determine everything from marketing messaging to product direction.

Omni-Content for the Omniscient

omniYour content—the product documentation, getting started guides, support FAQ, training and best practices, etc.—is the cornerstone of the customer experience. You know, all that content you’re already creating and squirreling away in pre-Internet (PDF) and pre-mobile (knowledge bases) technologies. Yes, that stuff is a strategic asset if you organize it for omni-content. 

Context is a beneficial side effect of well-organized, web-native and mobile ready content that it available to employees and customers at all times. All of these solutions for managing the customer experience, from call centers, to CRM, to Twitter, have to have content as their backbone. The problem Larus identifies about the silos of content created by the various channels is on point. But omni-channel needs to be backed with omni-content.

Omni-content (trademark pending) is the yin to the omni-channel’s yang. “Omni” can be defined simply as ”all.”  By providing access to all of your content to employees and customers across all channels through omni-channel support, you’re going to provide the most complete customer experience.

Omni-content paired with omni-channel not only provides you the most effective way to serve the customer the valuable knowledge they need. The content should also allow you to understand, precisely, the topics that matter to customers at each stage of the customer journey. It allows new insight into areas previously left to educated guesses, at best, such as:

When a customer is in the research phase, what content helps them move into the sales funnel?

What is the content being used by the customers that renew or invest further in our products?

When a customer calls into a support center, what specific content helps the resolve the issue on the first call?

How do my best sales and support agents serve my customers? What is the specific map of topics they’re using? 

The intelligence provided by the content at each stage of the customer journey tells you how to better market, sell, and service your customers. Knowing that a customer has emailed, tweeted, and called your company isn’t enough; you need to know why they did those things and what content they were looking for to either

  1. become a customer,
  2. become a successful customer, or
  3. stay a customer.

Omni-content paired to omni-channels is what will allow you to gain omniscience into the whole customer journey.

Conclusion

A recent study by Eptica found that out of 100 companies surveyed, over half of customer questions go unanswered across all channels. What’s worse is that “when asked the same question on email, Twitter, and web chat, just 11% of companies provided consistent answers across two or more channels.” If that isn’t a condemnation of the content behind multi-channel solutions, then I don’t know what else is.

Before implementing an omni-channel solution, companies should seriously evaluate their ability to deliver consistent content-driven customer engagement. Without a way to provide seamless access to all of the content across the organization to customers and employees, understanding the context of the customer journey effectively will be almost impossible.

Photo Credit: Raaphorst 

Gartner-Logo

As the products and services that businesses offer become increasingly complex, knowledge has become a crucial element for engaging prospective and current customers. The old adage of “knowledge is power,” finds a new meaning in this context, but as the recent Gartner report on the Knowledge Management vendor landscape points out, the power from knowledge is useless if you don’t know how to wield (manage) it.  

Managing knowledge has become just as complex as the products, as the amount of ways to interact with consumers and users has exploded with the rise of the Internet and social media. Customer service has extended from simple call centers to online self-service, Twitter, Facebook, Youtube, review sites, live-chat, video support, and community forums, with mobile and desktop presentations for each instance. It can be an overwhelming task to capture, author, publish, and distribute knowledge consistently across all channels.

Gartner’s report is a timely evaluation of the vendors in the Knowledge Management space. MindTouch is delighted to be cited as a stand-alone knowledge management solution that can “feed into and integrate with any of the other forms of engagement” with a “deep competency specifically in the core challenge of KM.”

We believe wholeheartedly that the knowledge created by companies is the key to customer engagement. Content-driven customer engagement is how you create customer success throughout the entire customer journey (that’s a lot of “customers” in one sentence, but that’s how customer-focused we are!). The report focuses primarily on Customer Service and Support applications of knowledge management, and that’s one of the areas we are passionate about in helping companies to provide the best customer support experience. (Want proof? Check out our on-demand webinar on how to build your customer success team and grow your business!)

You can learn more about the Knowledge Management landscape, along with best practices and useful recommendations by accessing Gartner’s report, “Understanding the Knowledge Management Landscape for CRM Customer Service.”

 

March 26th Release – Feature Change for Pro-Members

  • In the March 26th release, pro-members using Microsoft Internet Explorer 8 will see a browser notification banner across the top of MindTouch. The banner is being added to encourage pro-members to upgrade to a browser that provides a more optimal experience. The banner will not be visible to community members or anonymous users. If you have any further questions or comments please contact the MindTouch Customer Success Team.

Known Issue: Usage Report Missing Data

  • An encoded symbol in one of the API calls is causing the MindTouch Usage Report to not display total correct usage since February 12, 2015. Usage data is used to track the various user activity of your MindTouch deployment. The usage data has not been lost, it is just not being logged correctly. We are looking into this issue and will resolve it shortly. If you have any questions or comments please contact the MindTouch Customer Success Team.

Feature Change for Link Editor

  • Previously the search tool within the MindTouch Update Link dialog would only display the 6 most relevant results. As of the March 12, 2015 release if you continue scrolling it will populate with the next 6 most relevant search results and will continue to repopulate with more results as you keep scrolling, ending only when you reach the last of the results.

Feature Change for Content Reuse

  • Previously, the MindTouch Content Reuse dialog would wrap the reuse code in curly brackets. The Content Reuse dialog will use the red DekiScript formatting box and omit the curly brackets. This will not affect your existing reuse code, only reuse code that was added after March 12th. Both reuse approaches are acceptable technical solutions and will continue to work.

Feature Change for Portfolio Pages

  • The Portfolio template, which is as the out-of-the-box homepage to display categories, will no longer have the “upload category image” capability. The portfolio template is displayed out-of-the-box on your MindTouch homepage, however, you may have removed this template and replaced it with a custom homepage layout. You can still upload images to any of your Category, Guide, and Portfolio pages using the MindTouch Page Settings Editor. If you have any further questions or comments please contact the MindTouch Customer Success Team.

Bug Fix for CSS Customizations

  • CSS Customizations to your MindTouch site will not accept the greater than ‘<’ symbol or double quotes. These symbols are typically used in advanced CSS to offer more flexibility in selectors. These symbols will now be parsed and executed. We apologize if you had to change your CSS Customization due to this issue and if you have any further questions or comments please contact the MindTouch Customer Success Team.

Bug Fix for Site Administrators

  • Previously, deleted files in the Control Panel are sorted by creation date rather than deletion date. This could cause confusion and make it difficult to find files that have recently been deleted. Deleted files will be sorted by deletion date.

New and Updated Documentation

Back in 2005, Kathy Sierra (one of our favorite people around MindTouch) wrote a provocative blog post entitled “You ARE a marketer. Deal with it.” In her post, she admits that even as a programmer, she is in reality a marketer. With her characteristic gusto, she writes

In this new open-source/cluetrain world, I am a marketer. And so are you. If you’re interested in creating passionate users, or keeping your job, or breathing life into a startup, or getting others to contribute to your open source project, or getting your significant other to agree to the vacation you want to go on… congratulations. You’re in marketing.

The shift Sierra identifies here is that the old-school marketing of Mad Men lore is dying. Brilliant ads concocted in smoky rooms by men in three-piece suits tapping into subconscious desires (sex sells, right?) are not only not enough, they’re counterproductive to today’s consumerism.

Sierra differentiates this old-school marketing from what she calls “neo-marketing” with a useful, and gleefully pithy, chart (below, right).

Customer success begins with marketing.

Customer success begins with marketing.

 Of course, companies have been slow to get on this bandwagon—just look at the exorbitant spending every year for Super Bowl ad-space. But in a world where customer success is crucial to companies’ success, old-school marketing won’t cut it.

I’d like to highlight a few of the most significant thoughts from the chart, and I’ll also talk about what this means in a more practical sense. (Side Note: Probably the most important point, “focused on how the user kicks ass,” won’t be discussed here, because I discussed it here in-depth, and you can read her in-depth post about it here as well.)

  1. Everyone Does It

Sure, this sounds like high school peer pressure logic. But the idea that everyone is a marketer (and let’s call it what it really is: everyone is a salesman/woman) demands a shift in corporate thinking. One way to frame this shift is through customer success—what Sierra calls “how the user kicks ass.”  If we shift the end point of marketing from “the sale” to “customer success,” then it makes sense that everyone is a marketer. Because everyone in your organization is involved with customer success. 

  1. He Who Outteaches, Wins

No amount of big-budget advertisements with a Hollywood-sheen on them can take the place of teaching your customers to be expert users. (It’s common knowledge anyways that more money, more problems.) Investing in the success of your customers by teaching them to become experts is what will drive customer success.

The neo-marketing approach to marketing as teaching shifts the focus of advertisements from persuading the consumer to purchase your product to giving consumers the resources to know that they will be successful. Instead of selling them on your “brand”—as a status symbol they need to have—sell them on what they can do with your product and how they can do it.

The last part is crucial. That would make your best marketing material all of the content your organization produces for customer onboarding, support documentation, and product documentation. These are the things that will teach—and sell—your product to today’s savvy buyers.

  1. Impossible to separate development and marketing

 A chicken-and-egg dilemma: which comes first, the product or the marketing? The old-old-school way meant creating the product first, and then marketing it. The new-old-school way of things—a la Kickstarter funding projects—is to market and hype a product and then produce it. But in the neo-marketing approach, development and marketing aren’t two separate entities. They’re two sides to the same coin.

 This point is crucial, and just like the previous point, it relies heavily on the content your support and engineering teams produce. This content can provide a two-way street between product and marketing.  I say “can” because if your content is a downloadable PDF, then you’re not going to learn anything about your customers. Rather, if your content lives online where there are an abundance of useful analytic tools to help you understand how your customers and employees interact with the content, then you can create this two-way street.

 This two-way street is how marketing and product can work together towards their common goal—customer success. Customer success is mutually beneficial for both departments, for different reasons. For marketing (and sales), successful customers mean less churn, more brand advocates, and higher revenue. For production teams, customer success means product experts who are kicking ass with your stuff—which is what any product or development person wants (psst—it’s also what your customer wants). 

There’s no shortage to the conversation that Sierra’s post can generate. But what I’d like to leave you with is this: if we think of marketing as convincing customers to buy your product, then you risk dividing marketing and product. It becomes a rhetorical cat-and-mouse game. But if you think of marketing as part of the process of creating product experts, then you’re on track to ensuring the customer’s success throughout their journey. The nice thing is all of the marketing material for neo-marketing probably already exists in your company in the FAQs, PDFs, and support knowledge base. The problem will be turning this into content that is accessible, organized, and user-friendly for your current and prospective customers. 

shutterstock_175309430

If you want to understand another person’s point of view, the common advice is to “walk a mile in their shoes.” This is a critical adage to remember for businesses evaluating customer experience. Every point of the customer’s experience with the company should be considered. Each of these moments can communicate a strong message to the customer about the brand. 

One of the most overlooked areas of the customer experience lies in the help content, knowledge, and product documentation available to the customer. Consumers are turning more and more to online self-service for their support needs—and this same content is influencing (potential) customers in the buying process as well. 

And yet, there is a distinct lack of emphasis on online help content as a vital touch point in the customer experience. The content available to your customers should be helping them to become product experts. But all of that valuable content is chopped up into different silos—from training and getting started guides, to product documentation, to support FAQs. Seldom does all of this content provide a consistent customer experience, let alone an experience that is consistent with the look and messaging of the brand (from a marketing perspective).

And yet, the knowledge about your products is one of your greatest marketing assets. Customers want value from your company, and help content (especially online) is where customers can learn about the value provided by your products.

How can companies provide this to their customers? By consolidating all of the knowledge, help content, FAQs, etc., into a single, online self-service location that is branded, intuitively organized, and authored by the subject matter experts in the organization.

Branded help content helps unify the company’s messaging across the entire organization. Branding acts as a stamp of approval. It helps customers trust that the content is authoritative. If it looks like the company is in charge of this part of the customer experience (and there is the useful content to back it up), online self-service can be the place for your customers (and prospective customers) to go for all of their needs. 

Chaos can spur creativity, but organization will spur productivity. And when customers turn to your online self-service site, they want to get back on the path to productivity. Having highly organized content will reduce the customer’s effort to getting back on the path to productivity.

With content created by subject matter experts available through the online self-help center, customers are getting the right information at the right time. Whether customers are in the process of making a purchase choice or trying to get the most value out of your product, providing authoritative content sets customers up for success. And this will set you apart from the competition, because it will be easier to become, stay, and succeed as one of your customers.