Who’s Responsible for Providing Your Authoritative Content?

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Recently, we took a look at the how and why of authoritative content. Now that you’re convinced of its importance, lets talk about how who’s responsible for providing the high-quality content you need to best serve your customers. (Hint: It takes more people than you think.)

There’s no single magic bullet, master wordsmith, or staff role that provides you with all the content you could ever need, because authoritative content comes from many different places and all of them are important. In the same way that all roads lead to Rome, all content streams eventually lead back to your company’s doorstep.

Let’s take a look at the most common places smart businesses should mine for authoritative content:

Product documentation – This one is a no-brainer. You must have excellent online product documentation and it must be easily accessible the minute your customer needs it. This doesn’t mean you can slap a 42-page PDF on your site and hope for the best. It means, at the bare minimum, your content must be easily searchable, factually accurate, and continuously updated. Ideally, it is also created proactively before customers go looking for answers and also teaches users how to become their own product experts.

Marketing – The marketing department knows what customers in your space are looking for and what pre-purchase answers they want. Pick the brains of your marketing team to learn what authoritative content demonstrates that you’re a thought leader in your industry with the product and customer experience strategy to back it up.

Sales – As we’ve previously noted, the sales team can do a lot of the heavy lifting when it comes to helping your customers become their own product experts which, lets face it, should be the end goal of your product support. Sales knows what common barriers to entry potential customers face and can help you design content that will pre-emptively (there’s that word again) address common pain points or overcome implementation issues.

Tech support - These people are in the trenches every day with your product so put their knowledge to good use. Make it effortless for agents to share existing documentation with one another and with customers. Streamline processes that put immediate answers into the hands (or on the computer screens) of the people who need them.  A content system that supports ticketing integration means support agents can simply drag and drop relevant articles, then click send. Users get the best possible solution and know where to return to self-serve.

Customers — Do not underestimate the power of your users to provide smart answers to questions that may never have occurred to you. They are the perfect group to collect odd, quirky, or unique user scenarios that you couldn’t possibly test for in pre-production. Sure, there may be only six customers in the universe who need your product to be cross-compatible with hardware made in 1972. However, if one of them figures out how to make it work and the other five customers find that information on your site, you’ll forever be the hero of a handful of devoted users. Wikis and user forums give customers a place to help each other noodle around issues without involving your escalation team in solving every obscure problem customers encounter.

Content strategist – It may make sense for some businesses to hire a content strategist to oversee all the cogs and wheels that go into creating exceptional authoritative content. If you’re maximizing all the resources at your disposal, from tech support to marketing and sales, you need someone — or several someone’s, depending on the size of your company — to make sure there’s a single unified voice delivering your content. If you’re not sure how to put together an effective content strategy, here’s a good place to start.

You know authoritative content is necessary but putting it together doesn’t have to be frightening. You already have the resources you need at your fingertips, it just needs to be collected from various silos around the company. It takes a village to raise good content so start talking to your neighbors.

Image: irrezolut

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