SAP slash MindTouch

SAP to Resell MindTouch SaaS Solution as SAP® Knowledge Central by MindTouch

SAN DIEGO, Calif., Feb 17, 2015 – MindTouch, a provider of cloud-based software that helps companies drive user adoption and customer success, today announced the signing of a global reseller agreement with SAP (NYSE: SAP).  As part of the agreement, SAP will resell the MindTouch cloud-based Software-as-a-Service (SaaS)solution as the SAP® Knowledge Central application by MindTouch. The solution is available now and enables customer-service agents to provide more appropriate content to customers consistently across channels, helping reduce service-interaction times, increase the value of responses, and ultimately improve customer satisfaction.

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SAP Knowledge Central delivers relevant information to customers and agents using sophisticated and natural-language search and processing, content-ranking technology, and powerful analytics capabilities to allow companies to make more intelligent and targeted decisions about content and to update support knowledge in real-time. This, in combination with other SAP solutions, allows customers to better manage their customer-service and employee-service interactions in contact-center and self-service scenarios and to transform their users into experts.

“SAP’s cloud product portfolio constitutes the most comprehensive application portfolio for customer engagement and commerce as well as human capital management,” said Aaron Fulkerson, CEO of MindTouch.  “For over two years, we’ve seen firsthand how customers have benefitted from layering MindTouch solutions with SAP software, allowing their business to benefit from increased strategic value. We look forward to bringing the solution to even more customers following this new reseller agreement with SAP.”

The solution integrates with the SAP Cloud for Service and SAP Cloud for Social Engagement solutions, as well as the SuccessFactors® Employee Central Service Center solution for the human resources line of business. Integrated solutions include both agent-enabled and self-service customer-interaction scenarios.

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SAP Cloud for Service and SAP Cloud for Social Engagement are part of SAP’s Customer Engagement and Commerce suite of solutions, which are designed to help companies meet the needs of today’s empowered customer. This suite of solutions delivers a more consistent, omni-channel experience across the buying journey, helping provide the insight, experience and execution needed to engage customers at the right time, with the right offer or response to deliver a more superior experience that helps drive brand loyalty and, ultimately, revenue.

“By adding SAP Knowledge Central to our solution portfolio, we hope to enable our customers by delivering an end-to-end digital experience,” said Nayaki Nayyar,senior vice president, Cloud for Customer Engagement, SAP. “With this solution, companies can gain more information and knowledge about customers across all channels.”

About MindTouch

MindTouch, Inc. is a provider of cloud-based customer-success software.  MindTouch is transforming how businesses drive customer success by empowering them to capture and serve knowledge to their customers in new ways and by creating insight from customers’ behavior.  MindTouch creates shorter sales cycles, increases organic site traffic, and turns new users into experts and brand advocates.

MindTouch software is used by millions of people every day.  Industry leaders like Intuit, Remington, Hewlett-Packard, Verizon, Zuora, MakerBot and RSA Security rely on MindTouch to support their customers’ success.  Read more about MindTouch here: http://mindtouch.com.

 

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SAP, SuccessFactors and other SAP products and services mentioned herein as well as their respective logos are trademarks or registered trademarks of SAP SE (or an SAP affiliate company) in Germany and other countries. See http://www.sap.com/corporate-en/legal/copyright/index.epx for additional trademark information and notices.

All other product and service names mentioned are the trademarks of their respective companies.

 

SAP Forward-looking Statement

Any statements contained in this document that are not historical facts are forward-looking statements as defined in the U.S. Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. Words such as “anticipate,” “believe,” “estimate,” “expect,” “forecast,” “intend,” “may,” “plan,” “project,” “predict,” “should” and “will” and similar expressions as they relate to SAP are intended to identify such forward-looking statements. SAP undertakes no obligation to publicly update or revise any forward-looking statements. All forward-looking statements are subject to various risks and uncertainties that could cause actual results to differ materially from expectations The factors that could affect SAP’s future financial results are discussed more fully in SAP’s filings with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”), including SAP’s most recent Annual Report on Form 20-F filed with the SEC. Readers are cautioned not to place undue reliance on these forward-looking statements, which speak only as of their dates.

 

Mom is displeased with your customer success program.

Mom always knows best, even when it comes to business. Here is some sensible advice from my mom that companies working towards customer success should heed.

  1. If I’ve told you once, I’ve told you a thousand times.

This one always meant I was about to get in trouble. Of course, I always acted shocked to hear this “new” household rule, as if it really were the first time she’d told me. The truth of the matter was that I was so busy being a kid that I was ignoring all of the good advice from my mom.

What was my mom saying about customer success?

Listen to your customers, because if you’re told something once, you’ve missed out on the thousand other times you were told. Ok, a thousand is an exaggeration.  But reports have found that for every customer who bothers to complain, 26 other customers remain silent (White House Office of Consumer Affairs). Treat every complaint like a legion of complaints.

  1. What if everyone jumped off a cliff? Would you do it too?

At the time, this little rhetorical question felt like a trap.  Of course I would jump off a cliff, I’d say.  What did jumping off a cliff have to do with going to see a rated-R movie, anyways? But what my mom was really trying to tell me was that being an individual and making decisions for myself is better than following the crowd.

What was my mom saying about customer success?

The right way isn’t always the popular way. Everyone is building a Customer Success organization it seems these days. But be sure these customer success initiatives are tailored to your own company and products. There’s no one-size-fits-all customer success program.

  1. Don’t forget to wash behind your ears!

Few pieces of advice made such little sense to me as this one. What was so gross behind my ears that I needed special reminders? But what my mom was trying to impress upon me was how important it was to give attention to the details that get overlooked.

What was my mom saying about customer success?

There are parts of every customer’s journey that get overlooked. One of the most prevalent is the online self-service experience. Third party forums and downloadable PDFs? They may be informative—but from the customer’s perspective, you’re increasing the effort they need to exert to be successful. Take care of these areas, even if you don’t see them that often—someone’s looking behind your ears and boy, are they dirty.

  1. If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.

I should start out by saying that I was a quiet kid because of this one.  My mom had my best interests in mind—she didn’t want me to get beat up. But beyond that, she wanted me to understand that words matter.

What was my mom saying about customer success?

The things companies say matter. In customer service interactions, saying the “nice” thing—that is, the thing that the customer needs to be successful—is crucial. Research shows that it takes 12 positive experiences to make up for one unresolved negative experience (“Understanding Customers” by Ruby Newell-Legner). Good luck getting 12 more interactions with your customer.

And if you’re not saying “nice” things through your online self-service, you’re not doing all you can for your customers. If you’re content is disorganized and hard to find, you’re better off not saying it at all.

  1. Things aren’t important, people are.

Classic mother road trip advice—as I clutched my Game Boy Color, headphones on, blasting music from my Walkman, oblivious to the people around me. Link is a person, too, I thought to myself. But I was missing out on the important thing about the trip, which was spending time with my family.

What was my mom saying about customer success?

Not to sound sappy, but the time you have with your customers is special. Treat every customer service interaction—whether online or in person—like it’s your last. At every point in the customer journey, however insignificant to you, your company is creating lasting impressions for customers based on how attuned you are to their needs. According to McKinsey, 70% of buying experiences are based on how the customer feels they are being treated.  Customer success begins with treating your customers like important people.

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When I think of the word success, the image that comes to mind is people clapping—a thunderous round of applause from thousands of admirers, cheering me on. With customer success, your company wants to get their customers to the cross the finish line (or the kick-ass line) so they can celebrate their success.  But clapping is hard—and so is customer success—if the left hand doesn’t know what the right is doing.

We’ve talked here before about how important customer success is to companies. A crucial aspect of customer success is employee success. They’re the ones who will be working with your customers throughout their journey with your customer. From the first customer interaction with marketing to the renewal and upsell process, consistency across departments is crucial.

The relationship between companies and their employees is like any other relationship: communication is key.  Within departments, the need for good communication is obvious. Each department has their objectives, and they need to be on the same page to do it.

But if customer success is the goal—the company’s goal—then communication across departments is key.

The Problem

Departments within your company act like their own entities, with their own budgets, goals, and structure.  This helps companies run more efficiently, of course. But the effect of this can be that each department has a slightly different view on the company, the product, and the customer.

But from your customer’s view, your company is one single entity. When Sales tells customers your product can do something, but then the training and support team tell them it can’t—you’ve got a huge problem.

The main problem is the result of silos.  Knowledge is locked away in departments. If science can teach business anything, it’s that things change when they’re separated. Customers and employees need consistent messaging, and segmenting departmental knowledge undermines that goal.

Sometimes the problem stems from new employee onboarding. If each department has its own take on the company and the product, and within each department each employee has his or her own take on the company and the product, you can see how bringing a new employee up-to-speed becomes difficult.

The Solution

Take down the barriers between employees by utilizing a single, authoritative destination for internal documentation, regardless of department. By opening the channels and allowing marketing to see sales messaging, and customer support to sales messaging, etc., via a web-based system, you’re unlocking the potential of your employees to provide consistent, exceptional service.

Although MindTouch preaches customer success, we know that employee success is critical to that goal. The same customer-facing learning pathways that companies create with MindTouch to make their customers product experts can be used to create employee product experts.

All of the benefits companies find in customer-facing applications can be had with internal deployments. Whether it’s reduced effort, improved documentation, consistent messaging, or faster and better onboarding, with MindTouch your employees, new or old, will have a better experience.

And the left hand will know what the right is doing.

 

Product Change for MindTouch 4 and MindTouch TCS deployments

  • Previously, when you would click on a username in an area such as a comment section, page revision history, or site history, you would be brought to that individual’s User Page. User pages are special hierarchies created for all MindTouch users, previously they were used for content moderation for MindTouch Core deployments. For an improved experience you will now be directed to that user’s User Contributions section. Please contact the MindTouch Customer Success team with any questions or concerns.

Bug Fix for Authors

  • Previously when copying or moving articles you would be unable to if you entered in the page path that you would like to move the article to. Now you will be able to enter in a valid page path to copy or move articles.
  • When editing the description of a file you would have to click the “edit description” icon and then click inside the area you would like to type. You will see the cursor appear automatically in that editable section after clicking the “edit description” icon.
  • When searching for an article within the “Add a guide link” dialog’s search function it would not display results if only one result was returned.
  • Guide links would not show on your homepage if the link had a custom path. All guide links will now show on the homepage if unlinked from the path and any guide links created and any previously created guide links will show on the home page.

Bug Fix for Content Managers

Lower customer effort!

If you’re a B2B SaaS company, good help content is one of the most important things your business can provide your customer. Good help content is the number one thing you can do to lower customer effort and make becoming a product expert simple. Now, nobody’s going to wax poetic about Getting Started Guides. There’s nothing sexy about PDFs. But if companies realized just how much benefit there is to having authoritative, easy to consume content, then maybe there’d be some arias to online help content.

What is “good” help content?’

Good help content reduces the customer effort to becoming a product expert. For the most part, companies have lots of good content for customers.  Good help content is written by the subject matter experts in the company in an accessible way. Training guides, getting started guides, online self-service, and product documentation all help the customer become product experts. But even the best content in the world is no good if customers can’t find it. That’s why the best help content lives online.  Online search is second nature nowadays.

How Do I Get Good Help Content?

Just because your help content lives online, that doesn’t necessarily mean it is good help content.  The best help content is tailor-made for the Internet. To reduce customer effort, the structure of your help content needs to take advantage of the Google search engine. That means help content that is highly structured, interconnected, with human readable links. If your company is posting full PDF documents for customers to download, Google’s search can’t effectively crawl it. Plus, customer effort will skyrocket.  Who wants to pore through a 400 page PDF? Even a searchable PDF is overwhelming. Breaking your content down into micro-content helps customers to consume without being overwhelmed. You’re lowering customer effort by reducing search time, but also by reducing the time it takes to read and understand. Plus, showing related micro-content gives customers the power to learn more on their own by discovering related content in context.

 How Does Reducing Customer Effort through Help Content Boost Revenue?

Good help content—the kind that is authoritative, easy to search and consume–helps boost revenue in two main ways. The first is for your existing customers. People like simple, and people like doing things on their own time, at their own pace.  Online self-service has the potential to reduce customer effort to help make things simple for people. But frustrating searches that return third party sites or forums to slog through increase customer effort. SEO optimized help content that is built around the premise of easily consumed micro-content will help your customers become product experts—fast. Product experts are the loyal brand advocates who promote your product within the company and beyond. By making it easier for customers to be experts, your increasing the potential that you will keep your customer’s business and that they will help you generate more.  The second way good online help content can boost revenue occurs before a customer is even a customer. 57% of a typical purchase decision is made before a customer even talks to a supplier (CEB), usually through online research . With good online help content, you’re making sure these prospective customers are getting the authoritative, easy to consume content that will help them become a product expert. Clear expectations and a good understanding of your product through self-service content will help you have smarter customers and close business faster.

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At MindTouch, we use our own software throughout the whole company, and one of the most valuable use cases is in our Sales department’s use of MindTouch integration with Salesforce Sales Cloud.

The most common use of MindTouch with Salesforce is in Service Cloud. If you’re a support agent or support manager, MindTouch integration with Service Cloud gives you an obvious advantage. Whether it’s the ability to get Insights into the customer’s self-service habits to improve the online help site, or to enable support agents to author and share critical support articles with the customers and fellow support agents instantly, Service Cloud with MindTouch brings huge value to your support organization.

But what might not be obvious is that the same MindTouch integration within Salesforce Sales Cloud can improve the sales process and shorten sales cycles. I sat down with Jason Lazarski, Sales Manager at MindTouch to find out how he and his organization use MindTouch integration with Salesforce Sales Cloud to empower Reps and educate customers.

Empowering the Sales Rep

Jason is not just Sales Manager—he is also a Sales Rep. For each of his roles, the MindTouch Integration with Salesforce Sales Cloud provides him with different advantages.

In his role as Sales Rep, Jason leverages the knowledge of the MindTouch Success Center from the first call to the day the deal is closed.  There was no exaggeration in Jason’s voice when he told me that our success center is his best sales engineer (not to denigrate our fantastic sales engineers).

By using articles from the Success Center—the authoritative content written by our subject matter experts—customers have realistic expectations and a greater understanding of the product. Getting articles to customers is as easy as linking an article to the case and sending it out as an email, all from within the Salesforce Sales Cloud interface.

One of the goals of our Customer Success organization is to make sure that our Success Center has everything a customer will need to be successful with our product.  That means it contains articles that take both a high-level view of our product and very technical articles—plus everything in between that a customer will need along the way.

As the sales process goes on, Jason utilizes these articles in order to help validate each step for the various people involved in the negotiation. It’s an easy way for him to communicate the value and capabilities of our product to a wide variety of personas.

The purpose of this is to help drive sales by making customers smarter and more confident about the product. Because, ultimately, the goal is to make sure customers feel confident that MindTouch is the right product to achieve their project goals.  By using the success center early and often, Jason helps turn customers into the product evangelists who help drive the sales process.

A Helping Hand for the Sales Manager

From Jason’s perspective as a Sales Manager, the analytics provided by MindTouch integration with Salesforce Sales Cloud enable him to improve the sales process. By being able to track Sales Rep’s article usage throughout the sales process, patterns begins to emerge.

The first benefit to seeing patterns in article usage is that it allows for a proactive sales approach.  By identifying commonly used articles with the stage of the sales process, Sales Reps can provide prospective customers with the right information at the right time.

This information also helps to analyze and develop the messaging of the company from a sales standpoint, as well as a product and marketing standpoint.

The integration also makes it easy for Jason to get a sense of where the Sales Reps’ opportunities stand. And now that MindTouch integrates with Salesforce Chatter, Jason can quickly help Sales Reps manage opportunities by helping drive the sales process along with the right articles.

Ramping Up Onboarding

The benefits of MindTouch integration with Sales Cloud filters down into onboarding, for both the customer and new Sales Reps.

For customers, by the time the proverbial ink has dried, they are well-acquainted with using our online Success Center. The transition from prospect to successful customer is seamless.

When new Sales Reps join the team, understanding our sales process will be so much easier. The commonly used articles help our reps understand how to engage with customers at every step in the sales process.

Maximizing the Sales Process

There’s a lot of value to be found in the MindTouch integration for Salesforce Sales Cloud. Jason is constantly discovering new insights about prospective customers and our sales process.  But the ultimate goal of the integration is to make sure that the customer is successful—and that journey begins before they’re even our customers.

 

Connect with Jason on LinkedIn

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Reducing customer effort is at the top of successful companies’ lists. In spite of all of the great content that companies produce, there is one immense, frustrating hurdle facing their customers: the Google search.

But Google itself is not the problem. The problem is that companies have not optimized their help center content for Google’s search engine. That means customer effort skyrockets, since finding the information is nearly impossible.

More often than not, when I need help with a product, I turn to Google first. Here’s a representative example of how my searches escalate from simple to absurd in my attempt to find the right information:

Configure Wi-Fi on product X.

How do I configure Wi-Fi on product x?

I’d really like to configure the Wi-Fi on product x, please tell me how?

Look, I can’t configure the Wi-Fi on product x, and I’m just about to go on a business trip and if I can’t get this Wi-Fi working I can’t watch Netflix in between meetings!

If you find yourself googling the same thing multiple times, I want you to repeat to yourself:

I am not googling wrong. This is not my fault.

Companies whose online help centers aren’t SEO optimized are making a task that should be low effort into high effort. High customer effort at this stage sends the message to your customer that your company is difficult to work with.

Reducing customer effort through SEO-optimized help content does more than reduce the number of support tickets.

Help content that is easy to find and well-structured encourages customers to learn on their own—helping them to become product experts with minimal time and cost for the company. A customer is far more likely to be successful if they start to become experts with your product before they’re even your customer.

Companies with really robust, clear, and authoritative content that is easy to find can also help drive sales.  57% of a typical purchase decision is made before a customer even talks to a supplier (CEB). Most of the purchasing decision is made by online search, well before the prospective customer has any interaction with someone from the company itself.

If prospective customers can easily find answers to questions they have a product that they have on your company’s website, you have much more control over the message they receive.  The alternative for the customer is a third party site—which is just as likely to be full of detractors as is it promoters.

That’s why it is important to reduce customer effort before they’re even your customers. Don’t make customers work to find you online. Take back your online real estate with branded, SEO optimized online help content from MindTouch.

 

Upcoming Product Change Set to Release February 12, 2015

  • Previously, when you would click on a username in an area such as a comment section, page revision history, or site history, you would be brought to that individual’s User Page.  For an improved experience you will now be directed to that user’s User Contributions section.  Please contact the MindTouch Customer Success team with any questions or concerns.

Feature Release: Upgraded Edit Link Dialog

  • We are happy to announce the release of our upgraded hyperlink dialog within your MindTouch Editor. The styling has been updated along with the addition of three new features. You will now have the option to link to page anchor tags and headers, to open your link in an F1 Contextual Help window and to open your link in a new browser tab. This added functionality will help direct your customers to more precise information in a medium that best suites their needs.  You can find information on adding hyperlinks to your articles and creating anchor points at the MindTouch Customer Success Center. If you have any questions about the link dialog enhancements, please don’t hesitate to contact the MindTouch Customer Success Team.

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Product Update

  • We now include over 170 in-product help links (shown with this icon: QuestionMark) for both MindTouch 4 and MindTouch TCS. The in-product help-links showcase how MindTouch F1 is used to provide success content to your customers directly inside your SaaS product. Helping customers become more efficient and successful is our trade and we hope these links will provide guidance in making your deployment even more rewarding.

New and Updated Documentation

With the holiday season come and gone, I like to reflect on just how much I love getting new things. The newer, the better. This is the first time in my life I’ve owned the same cell phone for a year, yet alone six months. But because of my brief love affair with the things in my life, I rarely get to become an expert with them.  The rapidly accumulating graveyard of technological doodads in my drawers are a testament to this. I wouldn’t even consider myself an expert in the things I use every day.  For the most part, I feel like what I would gain by becoming an expert users in these products is never outweighed by the time it takes to be an expert user.

Customer success creates expert users

Kathy Sierra provides a great visual to help understand the apathy people feel towards expertise in her article “How to be an expert.” (Our CEO, Aaron Fulkerson, is a huge fan of Kathy Sierra—and it was this very graphic below that Aaron saw in a workshop with Kathy at ETech in 2006—which he cites as a huge reason MindTouch focuses so heavily on customer success. Kathy Sierra’s work, Aaron asserts, is integral to the success of MindTouch.)

How to be an expert

How to be an expert via Kathy Sierra

I’m not alone in my lack of expertise. I—and most people—tend to fall along the lower line: drop-out.  Rarely do I take the time to get over the “Suck Threshold,” let alone to the “Kicking Ass Threshold.”  At the “Suck Threshold,” there’s the attitude that mediocre is good enough. My relationship with my smartphone is a good example; if I took the time to really learn how to use it better, it would be so much more useful to me. I’d be less likely to toss it aside for the next best thing.

It’s the experts who invest their time until they get past the “Kicking Ass Threshold.”  But more importantly, it’s the right time, focused on the key elements to gaining mastery. They’re the ones who feel passionate about and are constantly engaged with the product or pursuit. And most likely, everyone they know, knows about it.

Part of my lack of expertise is laziness, but part of it is also my own thinking that I could never become an expert. Kathy Sierra draws upon scientific research to show that it is possible for anyone to become an expert with enough time and focused dedication.

(It’s nice to know that, if I really want to follow my dreams of becoming a world-class drummer, it is possible—despite how poor my hand-eye-and-foot coordination currently is.)

The expert user challenge

Expertise is a daunting task for consumers.  Products are becoming so complicated, so technical, that user guides outweigh novels. And products are constantly superseded by the-next-best-thing.  It’s little wonder why we can’t master things.

The question is always: does the investment in time warrant the return provided by the product?

Expertise is a far more daunting task for businesses, though, since it is their responsibility to make product experts. Understanding the complex psychology that goes into consumer choices and user adoptions could fill numerous books. Businesses must figure out a way to create product experts in order to survive. But they have to do it in the quickest time span possible. If it takes too long to reach the “Kick Ass Threshold,” the consumer is likely to linger in suck, or drop out altogether and move on to the-next-best-thing (and repeat).

Which is a shame, because product experts are the loyal users and brand advocates who drive new business through word-of-mouth and social media channels.

Easy sells. Some companies take this literally. Toyota for many years ran ad campaigns around the slogan “We Make It Easy on You.” Their exponential rise in the auto industry speaks volumes about this message, even if the message doesn’t speak volumes about the product itself (cars are complicated). Knowing something is easy is reassuring.

Making customer success kick ass

The challenge for businesses is simple: make becoming a product expert easier.  Lower the bar for the “Kicking Ass Threshold.”

The solution is less simple.

Once a customer has purchased a product, there are few convenient and intuitive ways to become an expert in a product.

Getting Started guides might get you past the “Suck Threshold.” But the amount of effort it takes to get beyond that typically isn’t worth it.

User manuals are often too technical and too long.

Searching online is easier–but far more frustrating. Most of the time you end up on a third-party site—which, for businesses, is a nightmare. If you find the company’s online knowledge base, they usually are break/fix solutions—one problem, one answer.

That doesn’t make expert users. Experts are learners—and businesses aren’t allowing customers to learn.

And that’s why MindTouch exists: to make it easy for businesses to create expert users. We want businesses to have customers skyrocket to the “Kicking Ass Threshold.” If they’re not kicking ass, they’re not satisfied; they’re not going to be loyal; they’re not going to be brand advocates.

How do we do this?

MindTouch is software for knowledge-driven customer success.  We define customer success as customers becoming kick ass experts. Our innovative web-native knowledge management solution allows organizations to create highly structured content for customers. Knowledge is optimized for SEO, meaning it is easy for customers to find. Knowledge is structured, topically, contextually, like a story—how humans think.

By making it easy for customers to self-service online, you’re dramatically increasing the likelihood of customer success.  There are few things more frustrating than having to call customer support. Frustration is the stumbling block on the road to expertise.

Drop-out, suck, mediocre: none of these are words businesses want associated with their customers. When customers can learn on their own time through self-service, the chances of getting over the “Kick Ass Threshold” skyrocket. With the right content at the right time, customer success is possible.

In the long run, it’s the expert users who help businesses keep and generate more revenue.

Can your business afford to have its customers stuck at the “Suck Threshold?”

customer success desert

Customer success takes dedication from an entire organization. But when it comes to best practices for customer success through online interactions, it seems all the workflows and optimizations of the modern workplace fall away.

Even after decades in existence, the Internet still represents the Wild West of the digital frontier—a vast, often lawless expanse of unruly terrain populated with heroes and villains, townsfolk and outlaws.

Businesses who set up shop in this turbulent space try to corral the rampant spread of information (and misinformation). To combat this, companies build slick websites filled with marketing, product, and support information.

There are a variety of ways that companies provide support online to customers.

Some provide forums where questions can be posted and answered by users and employees.  This can be difficult to manage, and disastrous if customers aren’t able to find the proper help they need to succeed.

Others repurpose their user manual by posting it online as a searchable (if you’re lucky) PDF. These are difficult because they are probably not SEO optimized. They’re also difficult to consume—who wants to slog through 400 pages to find the answer?

Others have online knowledge bases.

A typical knowledge base functions as a repository for all the information a company has about its products. Though the knowledge is corralled, it is rarely organized.

One way to think of the article structure is in terms of flashcards. In a typical knowledge base, there is a question or a topic on one side of the card. On the other side, is the answer or help content. While this might have been a helpful way to cram before a test in high school, having thousands of articles becomes a difficult, time-consuming task to organize.

These articles exist alone, in a vacuum. They are not connected by a story. Knowing how one article relates to another changes the equation from customers getting one question, one answer (the dreaded break/fix cycle) to customers learning in-context.

The ability to self-service online while learning in-context is key to customer success

Too often, customers in the Wild West of the Web have to journey from town-to-third-party-town to find the information about a product or an answer to a customer support question.

We know that  shows that 91% of customers would prefer to use online self-service if it were available and tailored to their needs (via Zendesk).

So it’s time for businesses to become the sheriff of their share of the Wild West. By bringing order to the online help content available to consumers through SEO optimization and by creating highly organized, content-rich articles, companies can pave the way to customer success.

 

Featured Image via Alan Levine