On April 21, Google updated their search engine algorithms to favor mobile-friendly webpages accessed through smartphones globally and across all languages (in other words, a seriously huge update). While this has many marketers and webmasters scrambling to update their websites, people who value customer success could stand to learn a thing or two from Google’s recent changes.
Though they don’t call it customer success, Google’s changes are all aimed at increasing their customer’s success with their product—a goal with which many companies struggle. Google’s mission is to provide their users the best experience and the most relevant, up-to-date, and valuable content possible. The algorithm changes are their way of improving their customer’s chance at success. Here are some things they’re concerned with that every customer success practitioner should be as well.
1. Customer Behavior is Changing
The days of desktop-based web-surfing are quickly disappearing. Customers rely on their mobile devices more and more to do work, make purchases, and learn. In fact, 60% of all online traffic comes from smartphones and tablets (comScore).
Companies looking to promote their customer’s success need to be able to provide the best experience possible, regardless of what device is used. By meeting the shifting behaviors of consumers, companies can provide more engaging experiences by being always-available, always-helpful (because who doesn’t have a smartphone on them at all times?).
This is how people act nowadays, statistically speaking.
2. Customer Experience is King
By understanding their user’s behavior, Google is now ensuring that they are optimizing the typical user experience—which means boosting mobile-friendly pages while devaluing pages that are clunky on mobile devices.
Gathering customer data isn’t enough when it comes to ensuring customer success. Companies need to take action on that data to create the most intuitive, frustration-free customer experience.
3. Content Should Be Relevant, Valuable
Google has moved beyond links and meta keywords to evaluate how relevant content is to their users. Many of the recent updates have been aimed at providing searchers content that is relevant to them, including factors like location, and authoritative.
Nothing is more valuable to your customer’s success than the help content and product documentation your company produces. To help promote customer success, it is vital that the content your company produces is up-to-date, authoritative, and easy to navigate. While marketing material has it’s function, focus on maximizing the help content and product documentation that will make your customers product experts
4. Trust is Earned, Not Purchased
Many of Google’s search algorithm changes are in response to the way people (read: marketers) tried to game the system through link spamming, doorway pages, and keyword stuffing. The result was a lot of useless results that didn’t match the searcher’s intention. Through their updates these past few years, Google has clearly signaled to site owners that only valuable, relevant content (that is mobile-friendly) deserves to be in the coveted top three results. Google recognized that their customer’s trust in their product was critical.
For companies with complex products, customers often turn to the company for assistance to be successful with the product. It may be through email, phone calls, or (likely at first) through Google search. But if you can’t deliver the value they need, customers won’t trust you to get the job done. That’s when they turn to third-party sites, and in the worst case, your competitors.
Just because a customer purchased your product, it doesn’t mean that you’ve earned their trust. That process begins in the sales process, and continues on through onboarding and support.
5. Constant Improvement is the Only Option
As stressful as the constant changes to their search algorithms can be (especially to marketers), Google understands the importance of constantly improving their product to make their customers more successful. There has been a big push from Google to deliver search results that respond to the searcher’s intention, rather than just the keywords entered. And Google will certainly continue to develop smarter algorithms to provide even better results in the future to make their customers more successful.
Companies are always working to improve their products. But a company that focuses on customer success wants their customers to constantly improve with the product. This is a difficult goal to achieve when your company produces complex products and services without the content the customer needs available to them at all times, wherever they are.
A Culture of Customer Success
There are many more lessons that the success of Google’s search can teach companies, but when it comes to “customer success” these are the key elements. Any company looking to promote customer success will note how all of the points here reflect the culture of the company, and not just the product. Customer success is not just a marketing term or a re-branding of customer support. It’s a cultural approach that infects every aspect of the organization. It’s knowing that the customer’s success means your success.