Robots vs Zombies, vs Ninjas vs Pirates

Customer retention and loyalty is heavily dependent upon a company’s ability to empower their customers. Products are becoming more complex with each release cycle and, even with strong usability designs, customers require more information to become experts.

The challenge for businesses is figuring out how to capitalize on this need, lower the barriers to entry, and provide quality support services so that their customers can educate themselves in the shortest amount of time possible. Companies that focus on customer success enjoy a high ROI for a simple reason: your product is only as good as your customers’ ability to use it.

That being said, customers want to learn, but aren’t willing to exert a lot of effort to get from point A to point B. Therefore, it’s up to your business to figure out how to quickly ferry customers from one level of expertise to the next.

It’s not an easy task, but businesses can make their customers successful by employing the following tactics:

Streamline Internally to Deliver Customer Success

Before optimizing customer-facing interactions, businesses need to make sure that they are equipped to support customers throughout their entire lifecycle. By focusing on internal processes first, businesses can ensure that they have their priorities straight and won’t create a model that allows customers to be abandoned after a sale.

Understand Your Customer 

Focus on what is important to your customers. Listen to them during the sale cycle. Make sure to blueprint their needs. Pass this blueprint along to the customer support team so that, post-sale, customers can be confident that we, the business, are invested in helping them become product experts. Make sure that this blueprint is available to all customer-facing departments and is kept up to date as goals may evolve.

Deliver Knowledge To Customers The Way They Want: Self-Service

Talking to a support agent takes a lot of effort which is why most customers prefer to self-help when they encounter a problem. By making it easy to find the information that they need to complete a task, customers can gain expertise, both in navigating the help center and using a product, more effectively.

To learn more about the business value of Customer Success, please read this post by our CEO.

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Customer retention and loyalty is heavily dependent upon a businesses’ ability empower their customers. Products are becoming more complex with each release cycle and, even with strong usability designs, customers require more information to become experts. The challenge for businesses is figuring out how to capitalize on this need, lower the barriers to entry, and provide quality support services so that their customers can educate themselves in the shortest amount of time possible. Companies that focus on customer success enjoy a high ROI for a simple reason: your product is only as good as your customers’ ability to use it.

In the following video MindTouch CEO Aaron Fulkerson and Forrester Research Principal Analyst Kate Leggett will offer strategies, statistics, and data on trends in the customer success space. MindTouch, a SaaS organization, has top-tier clients such MakerBot, Intuit, and Paypal and knows how B2B and B2C businesses should engage their customers. Get the MindTouch & Forrester Research Webinar HERE. If you want to stay one step ahead of the competition and incentivize your customers to learn, you need to watch this video.

Why not just send my customer to a customer support agent?

Customers have high expectations and want easy access to information. By forcing your customer to engage with a support agent as the only means to obtain knowledge, you are increasing the probability that the customer may have a poor interaction with your agent. Traditionally, customers run into the following problems:

  • Broken Cross-Channel Communications – Customers cannot start an interaction on one channel (such as chat, SMS, or email) and continue to another channel (such as phone or voice) without having to repeat themselves and start the conversation again.
  • Lack of Knowledge Expertise by Agents – Many businesses are cyclic and bring on temp. workers for customer support. Due to the unintegrated, complex web of unintegrated technologies, agents (especially those who are temps.) have a hard time finding the information they need to answer a customer’s questions which may result in delays, poor answer quality, and ultimately unsatisfied customers.

Most importantly, customer support agents are expensive. Depending upon the volume of support tickets, businesses can easily spend millions just to support a faulty, broken infrastructure. This is why industry leaders such as Accenture, Paypal, MakerBot, Intuit, and many others, are adopting MindTouch customer success tactics to cut costs and better engage their customer base, support their customer service agents, and deflect tickets.

So, how should I engage and educate my customer?

Customers are using search engines such as Google, Yahoo, and Bing, to find answers to their questions. This is why it is important for businesses to deliver knowledge in a web-native, SEO-friendly format instead of bulky, traditional PDF files. By giving customers this option of self-service and prompting discovery, businesses incentivize customers to become experts, lessen customer dependence upon traditional, fractured communication channels, and lessen the business costs associated with maintaining a customer support infrastructure.

About: MindTouch has helped thousands of businesses improve their customer success metrics by utilizing machine learning algorithms to guide product and customer subject experts (both internal and external to an organization) so that they can capture & reuse quality content, and collaborate with one another so that they can author, edit, and request documentation in real time; all of which is aimed towards helping businesses invest in customer success, create a self-improving knowledge center, and identify up-sell opportunities. MindTouch clients can also seamlessly utilize MindTouch to intuitively cluster content knowledge, surface articles in real time (such as while a customer types a support ticket or search query), and auto-recommend engaging, pertinent content to users so that they will be prompted to explore, discover, and learn.

If you to save money, keep your customers happy, and stay one step of your competitors, you should watch the MindTouch & Forrester Research Webinar, Making Leaders Successful Every Day: Customer Support Practices For Creating A Profit Center  to understand what the best techniques are for promoting customer success.

facets

About a month ago we introduced a new feature we call faceted search. Faceted search is more than just a fancy way to filter search results. It’s a quick and powerful way to sort results into categories that help users find the answers they need without drowning them in irrelevant information they don’t want.

We’ve been talking about faceted search for a long time so we’re thrilled to put this exciting technology into the hands of your customers for a better user experience. Take a look at this screenshot of faceted search in action and then we’ll talk about why it’s so special.

faceted_search ed-1

We know customers don’t want to waste time sifting through reams of product documentation just to figure out how to change a battery or connect a power source. Faceted search takes the most annoying aspect of searching online documentation and delights users by allowing them to:

  • Filter search results based on Category, User Guide, or Article
  • Drill down into Articles and further sort them by type: Topic, How-To, and Reference
  • Easily bookmark and share relevant results with others
  • Access information across your entire website in a single browser tab
  • Uncover and bookmark related search results for immediate or future reference
  • Use Advanced Search to target specific words, phrases, tags, or even exclude words

Poor online help documentation isn’t just a time sink for your customers. It’s an albatross around the neck of your help desk, too. The superior results offered by faceted search mean users can find what they need without contacting tech support. That translates to a higher ticket deflection rate and infinitely happier users.

Satisfied customers are loyal customers but that doesn’t mean we want to make our customer base dependent on the support desk to walk them through every issue they encounter. Self-service help features like faceted search groom customers to become product experts and, eventually, product advocates.

Available only on MindTouch 4, faceted search takes the annoyance factor out of online product help and replaces it with something truly useful for the customer: The right answer exactly when they need it, without fighting tooth and nail to find it.

Did we miss something? Let us know what you think.

rubber bands

As consumers, we’re an impatient bunch.

We expect instant gratification and have trouble waiting four seconds for an online shopping cart to load after we’ve decided to buy something. We’ve become accustomed to shopping online vs. schlepping to a free-standing geographically-located structure (that’s a “store” for you kids out there). We’d rather quickly click some buttons on a laptop instead of calling a help line and stumbling through a phone tree. We want to flip through online documentation while making purchasing decisions, not spend an hour getting a hardcore pitch from a sales rep.

In fairness, we can partly blame technology for giving us the attention span of a fruit fly and, overall, businesses have done and admirable job of keeping pace with our  restlessness. They’re getting really good at following us around the internet, ready to fling themselves in front of us the instant we decide to make a purchase or troubleshoot an issue. Meanwhile behind the scenes, companies busily build redundancy-filled fortresses to process and protect customer data.

padlocks

It’s great to have proactive customer experience strategies in place and it’s critical to safeguard customer data, but the two are not mutually exclusive. It’s vital to take a good look at your customer service channels and treat them with the same importance you give to protecting your databases.

Forrester’s Rachel Dines notes that even the most proactive companies have a bit of a problem with resiliency. They’re so busy planning what to do if backend mechanisms fail that they forget to plan for unexpected customer-facing service slips:

“I’ve found that resiliency initiatives often fail to get momentum because they are so focused on disasters and downtime, and fail to link back to critical business processes and services. …[W]e should be focusing our investments in resiliency on the customer experience. It doesn’t matter if the data center is under 5 feet of water or if someone accidentally deleted a critical file, if the customer experience suffers, we need to have a plan.”

Admittedly, infrastructure overhaul can take months but there’s at least one area you can focus on to get immediate results: Product documentation. Customers must be able to flawlessly and consistently find instant answers on your website to issues that plague them. Not just any answers will do, of course. They have to be useful and, above all, correct. It really doesn’t matter what the product docs have to say about Your Awesome App 2.3 when you’ve just launched v3.1.

Naturally, if you sell a product on your site, a working shopping cart should be your number one priority. Next up on the list must be tight product support so you don’t lose the customers you worked so hard to get. Some studies show that up to 48% of customers will abandon a website if they don’t get a quality response in less than five minutes.

goodbye

It’s unacceptable to have outdated support docs on your website when implementing a cloud-delivered, self-service help center is so easy. Excellent product documentation is one of the fundamental principles of an excellent overall customer experience and users won’t want to hear a sob story about why a meteor shower interfered with their ability to find the answers they need. When you think about resiliency strategies, don’t forget about how to keep your product support intact. It’s easier — and more important — than you think.

Image: Javier Alvarez, Jon Worth, woodleywonderworks

Social help systems can benefit nearly every type of online business you can think of, but e-commerce is one area where it really shines. Lets take a look at five ways social help improves the customer experience and how some companies are using it to build brand loyalty with their users.

 

irs

1. In-line help for complex forms. The Internal Revenue Service is famous for deluging hapless U.S. citizens with frightening help docs filled with algorithms, charts, and tables. It’s unlikely anyone finds these useful and they’ve probably caused more than one stress-related eating binge. Don’t be like the IRS. Offer users in-line assistance if they run into issues while filling in forms on your site. As a bonus, since in-line support is easier to keep current and updated, it trumps PDFs any day of the week.

 

 

passport

2. Access to why certain information is required.  Though the U.S. government flunks customer service 101 when it comes to complex forms, it got a help feature right on another one of its sites. The State Department requires a lot of confidential information from visitors who are applying for passports online, which can be off-putting for many people. However, clicking on the question mark next to each input field brings up an explanation of why the data is necessary — a particularly useful feature for quelling fears customers sometimes have about sharing personal information online. Snag this idea for reassuring visitors to your website or use it to serve up info on error messages people may stumble upon while they’re there.

 

 

Amazon

3. Offer support and troubleshooting for users to work through without resorting to the company help line.  Don’t assume your customers want to call your toll-free number for support because, frankly, they probably don’t. Instead, take a cue from Amazon. It gives customers seven different ways to get the information they need, with phone contact coming in as a last resort. Users love having a batch of options to choose from and you’ll love that you can cut way down on your trouble tickets and support calls just by implementing this one simple feature.

 

 

htc

4. Provide straightforward answers alongside related topics. One sure way to delight customers is to turn them expert users who can navigate your product with ease. HTC‘s online product documentation strategy includes offering extra product education alongside product support material on its website. Customers can deep-dive into topics related to their question or issue and become product experts. Long-term, these become the loyal customers and brand advocates all companies love to have.

 

PayPal

5. Connect people with a community of users who are working through the same problems and may have identified the answers.  Where do your product experts and brand advocates most often end up? Sharing their knowledge and expertise with others in online community forums. Paypal smartly adds links to its onsite forum and pointers to the hottest discussion topics directly from its support pages along with . That’s a terrific way to encourage users to help each other work through common issues and free up your support team for other projects.

grumpy_cat_pdf

There’s been quite a hue and cry this week over Adobe’s decision to shift Creative Suite to a subscription-only business model. Beginning in June, the company’s flagship boxed set of widely used tools like Illustrator and Photoshop will be moved to, and supported in, the cloud.

It’s a bold move, but not a shocking one, as more software vendors see the benefit of pushing their business to the cloud. It’s certainly more cost-effective than shipping CDs and vying for product placement on crowded store shelves, to say nothing of how easy it is to roll out updates or patches.

Interestingly, Adobe’s other big seller, Adobe Technical Communication Suite, isn’t headed to the cloud. Why? The most likely answer is because desktop publishing tools are becoming increasingly obsolete. With its heavy focus on collaborative PDFs, this particular collection of apps doesn’t have much maneuvering room as companies shift away from reliance on PDFs as their primary information delivery system.

Internal document management and online product help manuals are key reasons companies use PDFs. While the former isn’t likely to change anytime soon, the latter is heading the way of the dodo bird because customers simply don’t like PDF support docs.

When it comes to product help, PDFs as an exclusive means of documentation will work against you. You may have the best product or service your corner of the market has ever seen but if all your supports docs are PDFs, you might as well be offering manuals on stone tablets.

Today’s product manuals aren’t really manuals in the traditional sense. They’re collaborative, fluid, current, living databases filled with knowledge. User Manual 2.0, if you will.

Here are five cold, hard truths about PDF product support:

crybabyPDFs make customers cry. Here’s a typical usage scenario: Have a product question, head to the company wesbite’s help section. Hope for a quick answer, get directed to a huge PDF instead. Make a sandwich while it downloads. Try searching the document for your question, get 93 hits on your search term. Sigh audibly.

Make a stiff drink, then bravely poke through each response to find a useful answer. Rejoice when answer #89 seems to be what you need. Cry when you discover the PDF hasn’t been updated in two years and the information is wrong. Launch laptop at the wall.

If you want to be responsible for tears and crushed dreams, make sure all your product help docs are PDFs.

A living knowledge base, on the other hand, lets users quickly find the answers they need. Since it’s easy to update and keep current, customers know they’re getting the right answers every time. Software vendors can take product support a step further with in-product contextual help that allows users to access information related to what they see onscreen — without ever leaving your app.

 

burning_moneyPDFs cost your company money. Static documents are expensive to maintain. Somebody (or several somebodys) need to constantly monitor them for accuracy, make changes as needed, convert and upload documents, and so on. The hours your team spends managing PDFs are far better spent helping customers directly instead of tinkering with static manuals.

A living knowledge base helps maintain itself by continually updating across all channels. It’s a collaborative system that gives customers and support agents the real-time information they need, when they need it. On top of that, you’re not paying team members to constantly update PDFs or losing money when frustrated users jump ship for a company with better customer support.

 

gogglesPDFs look unprofessional. Back when the world was on dial-up, websites were single-page affairs, and hosting space was a million dollars a GB, there weren’t many options for getting product help into the hands of users. Today, there’s simply no reason for companies to overlook technology that makes life easier for customers.

Do you really want to force customers to print out reams of pages at their own expense just to figure out how to use your product? Does it warm your heart to picture the PDFs you worked so hard to assemble shoved in a file in the bowels of someone’s hard drive and forgotten?

PDF product help docs make your company look dated and unprofessional. They send the message that you don’t value your customers’ time or resources. A slick online database filled with loads of documentation that’s easily searchable looks far more professional than an outdated website with huge files to download.

 


dunce_capPDFs don’t help users become experts.
The entire point of customer support is to help users help themselves, to offer them a buffet of options that assist them in finding answers quickly and efficiently. Done right, a good help strategy turns your users into product experts by giving them multiple access points to useful product documentation.

PDF-based support systems have a number of potential fail points and customers have frustratingly few options if the documents are wrong. Sure, they can call a toll-free number or open a trouble ticket, but those avenues make users more dependent on your support team, not less.

Knowledge-based help systems give users multiple channels for finding help and troubleshooting issues. Customers expect to have content that adapts to who they are and the channel they’re accessing. You can’t do that with a static PDF.

 

great_wallPDFs build walls around your teams. Data silos can’t exist within a living knowledge base that’s continually updated and accessed by everyone in the company. PDFs, on the other hand, are locked data points controlled by tech writers.

To be sure, tech writers are an extremely valuable component of product support, but they shouldn’t be the only source of branded product knowledge. Marketing, Sales, Support, Community Managers, and even ancillary support teams have value to add to your existing content, but they can’t do that if all your help docs are protected PDFs.

Collaborative knowledge bases tear walls instead of reinforcing them. If your own teams can’t use your product help effectively, think how your customers must feel.

Used sparingly, PDFs do have their place on a company website. They’re fine for media kits, press releases, printable maps, or for delivering information that rarely or never changes. They’re a terrible method for managing product support info, however. A real-time knowledge base is the help platform your customers need. It’s the new user manual.

Images: Storyvillegirl, Purpleslog, Elvissa, CogdogblogKeith Roper

 

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Imagine a company that actively discouraged its customers from buying or using its products. Imagine it quick, because a company like that won’t be in business for long. Sadly, some companies spend tons of money and hundreds of hours creating all kinds of marketing and customer service strategies only to shoot themselves in the foot by subtly driving users away with poor product documentation.

Take a tour of your website, wiki, and in-house forums to see if you’re inadvertently sending customers any of these discouraging messages.

“Don’t use my product!”  This is what you’re telling users when you don’t provide proper documentation around how to use your product. Unless your entire customer base can psychically divine how to interact with or troubleshoot your product, reliable documentation is critical. By “reliable” we don’t mean it must be “good enough.” We mean it must be excellent. What does excellent product documentation look like?

  1. Searchable: Microsoft TechNet knocks it out of the park when it comes to searchable content. The homepage is laid out cleanly and links to specific types of content are clearly displayed. A handy search box at the top of the page helps users drill down quickly without a lot of frivolous clicking.
  2. Proactive: Mobile device company HTC excels at providing current, proactive documentation. The site uses words like “latest” and “recent” — and means it. You won’t find a bunch of outdated info and broken links here.
  3. Approachable: Dell does a great job of making its content accessible to every type of customer it serves. Clear product categories and search options ensure even novice users aren’t intimidated or overwhelmed with a blizzard of options and information.

 

“Your time is worthless”  This is what you’re saying when you require users to jump through multiple hoops to gain access to your documentation. Customers shouldn’t have to register on your site, click though 43 subpages, and offer up the blood of a unicorn just to find out how to replace a battery.

Complex products sometimes require complex documentation, but it’s your responsibility to make the process as painless as possible. If you’re product is software, the solution is dead simple: in-app support. Expose documentation directly within your product so users never have to leave the app to find the answers they need. That’s some pretty heroic product support, isn’t it?

 

“Your feedback doesn’t matter.”  We’re all customers in some way, so we know you’ll agree it’s important to know that a company taking your money actually cares about you. When a user takes the time to offer input, share tips, or make suggestions, ignore them at your own peril. Your customers are down in the trenches, experiencing your product in ways you may have never thought about and have great feedback to share.

Customers don’t expect hand-signed birthday cards every year, but they do expect a measure of respect and appreciation that shouldn’t stop once their check clears. One of the best ways to honor customer feedback is to make it easy for people to offer it right on your site — and then listen to what they say. Customers are a great source to mine for nuggets of product knowledge and user stories that might not have occurred to you yet.

This type of customer engagement carries an inherent bonus: You can correct misinformation before it finds its way onto offsite meta-support channels like Twitter or Facebook. When feedback is a two-way street, users become their own product experts and you gain valuable insight into how customers experience your products.

We know no one plans on alienating customers but it can happen. It’s easy to get caught up in the minutiae of running a lucrative business and overlook some potentially off-putting vibes you may be sending customers. Take a few minutes today to make sure your product documentation process sends the right message to users instead of turning them away.

 Image: Mollypop

 

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Back in the day, building customer relationships was simply a matter of creating an outstanding product or service then backing it up with some good user documentation. Today’s customers expect more — far more — from us. They want contextual, fresh, and relevant information so great engagement means you need to be part mind-reader, part sherpa, and part concierge. You can be all these things when you provide authoritative content to your customers.

What’s all this voodoo about authoritative content? Isn’t it enough to simply create an online knowledge base and let customers pick through your living documentation? Not anymore. Let’s take a look at the importance of authoritative content and why it’s more than just piling up words on your company’s website.

Be a mind reader. At a time when about 50% of business leaders pinpoint customer churn as the topmost threat to their company, Forrester analyst Kate Leggett notes proactivity is vital to customer retention. “Customers want to feel like the company has their best interests at heart and that the company is partnering with its customers to keep them satisfied and loyal throughout their engagement lifetime,” she says. “[And] they want this proactive service to happen, whenever possible, behind the scenes so that problems are addressed before they happen.” In other words, give customers the information they need before they even realize they need it.

Of course, evergreen content that people can reference for months and years to come is a priority. Paired with a continually-updated website, blog, or knowledge base puts you on the leading edge of information resources.

Be a sherpa. When you’re the go-to site for information about a particular type of product or service, customers will look to you for guidance in addition to their friends on social media networks. Peer assistance is great but customers need definitive answers, not supposition. Make yours the authoritative content that people link to as they help one another troubleshoot or look for new business solutions.

In addition to building your company’s personal brand, content that solves issues and shows users how to get maximum value from your product lets customers know you’re listening. Consumer loyalty is a minefield these days and authoritative content — in addition to a great product and superior customer service — is the glue that binds users to their product. Corporate communications writer Erica Harrison calls this cycle the “psychology of trust:”

1. A user searches for a topic relevant to your industry.
2. They come across your authoritative content (i.e. white paper, blog, or case study).
3. The positive response (i.e. trust) to the authority of your content is then directly paired with your organization.
4. The reader assumes if you have such informative content online, then you must be a leading authority in the industry.
5. This automatically builds their trust in your organization.
6. They then visit your site where they will most likely become a client or customer.

Be a concierge. Don’t underestimate the power of authoritative content to establish yourself as an industry leader. Spend some time sharing your thoughts on market trends and analyzing what’s going on in your industry. Don’t be afraid to make forecasts and predictions. Authoritative content is predicated on bringing fresh, new information to readers and keeping your finger on the pulse of things that affect your customers. Let them know where to go, what to see, and what to do.

There’s little doubt the customer engagement playing field has changed drastically in recent years. The good news is that with great change comes great opportunity. Serving up smart, authoritative content is a particularly important arrow in your quiver of customer service resources.

Image: Brian J. Matis

revolutionary product helpA

Let’s assume that product documentation and support is a major pain point at your company (for most, it is). The first step is to fix it by looking at it from the outside-in. In other words, what would you do differently if you really measured the usefulness and accessibility of your documentation from your customers’ perspective? For example, why can’t they search your documentation for the answers they need? Why can’t they easily let you know whether or not they found what they were looking for? Why can’t they use your documentation to do more than find answers, but to learn and enhance their product expertise?

Solutions to address these questions may seem costly and burdensome at first, but by staying ahead of disruptive social trends and creating cutting edge innovations, MindTouch provides cost effective tools any company can use to effectively–and profitably–turn traditional approaches to product documentation and support upside-down. Let’s take a look at what product documentation and support at your company could look like.

Imagine how you could delight your customers and leapfrog your competition if. . .

  • Your customers could access a powerful search engine dedicated to helping them quickly and easily find the most relevant information from the most credible source (your company, not a 3rd party forum).
  • Your software users could access product help when and where they need it without having to leave your application.
  • Your customers could easily provide feedback and ask a question directly from within your documentation rather than having to email you or waiting on hold for a support agent.
  • You connected every piece of product documentation customers used to an analytical service that could more quickly diagnose product and documentation problems and quickly offer customers relevant guidance.
  • You could eliminate documentation silos and distribute the latest, most up to date, documentation internally so that all product information was instantly accessible to any customer-facing employee.

With MindTouch you can!

Adaptive Search MindTouch includes a powerful search engine that indexes articles, comments and even the contents of file attachments. We call it adaptive because MindTouch learns from user interactions and continues to get better as your users score content, visit, click and interact with pages. No work on your part – just let MindTouch do its job. Site admins have access to tools for analyzing search, manipulating and specifying recommended results.

 

 

F1 Help Button: Contextual Help System In just minutes you can add a contextual help system powered by MindTouch to your web applications. This allows your users to receive screen or field level contextually relevant help within your applications. Because MindTouch automatically relates content your users will get answers to their questions and be recommended content that will help them develop their expertise even further.

 

 

Feedback Tools MindTouch offers page and search result scoring and feedback mechanisms. Scoring impacts the adaptive search and informs behavioral analytics. Also, user feedback can open a support ticket in your current ticketing system via email and MindTouch will email the appropriate author or editor who can respond directly to the user’s feedback.

 

 

Analytics These powerful reports were designed to inform content strategy: which articles need to be written or improved. Reviewing user search patterns will also help product, marketing and sales teams. Marketers and content strategists value the ability to tactically execute on search engine optimization (SEO) strategy. Support and product leaders rely on these reports to identify hot-spots.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

CRM/Ticketing Integration.  MindTouch plugs into pretty much any support ticketing system. Support agents will receive real-time search results from MindTouch. Agents can drag and drop relevant articles and click send. Your users will get the best possible solution, will know where to return to self serve and with auto-related articles they will develop their product expertise. Agents can also publish to MindTouch with a click.

 

 

 

With these capabilities, companies in every industry have improved their customers’ brand and product experience while significantly reducing documentation and support costs.

To learn more about how MindTouch can help your company get a competitive edge, gain valuable insight into your customers’ sense of product satisfaction and improve your customers’ experience: click here.

Oracle President Mark Hurd

The ideas around customer experience have been around a long time – but the pace of innovation in the CX space has greatly accelerated over the last few years due to rising consumer expectations and fueled by the explosive adoption of social media.

A few weeks ago, Oracle made some major waves around its new Customer Experience Suite.  In our view, Oracle maybe at the forefront of redefining customer experience and what it will mean in the future. But niche companies like MindTouch have operated in the space for much longer, and have long drawn the attention of software giants like SAP, who is similarly in the first wave echelon of companies innovating in the Customer Experience space.

CEO Mark Hurd said in front of a national audience, “We are here to talk about one of the most important issues our customers face, which is how our customers deal with their customers. Life used to be simple. You made great products and people bought them. Now it’s more complicated. Today, having a good product isn’t good enough. You have to have a great relationship and a great experience with your customer to keep that customer. Second, Oracle announced the new Oracle Customer Experience Summit at @OracleWorld.

Hurd is smart to make a push into the CX space, however, some industry leaders wonder if Oracle will be able to remain competitively agile as it tries to blend legacy architectures from a mix of acquisitions and old technology. Nonetheless, Oracle is doing a good job of defining customer experience in today’s social world and prioritizing it for vendors and for large corporations. As we’ve pointed out before at MindTouch, customer churn hurts SaaS companies even more than for traditional businesses, making customer experience crucial for these companies.

MindTouch is also leading much of the product development around customer experience. In late June, we hosted dozens of leading customer experience professionals from major organizations and vendors (including Oracle, SAP and Microsoft).The meet-up was a great chance to listen to how many industry insiders see the  CX space developing. For the most part, they agree with Hurd on the importance of customer experience solutions.

But they also agree that the grand vision of customer experience is not easy to implement. Customer experience is how you manage the interactions between your user base and your company. This user base can include prospects as well as customers – which means customer experience touches just about every part of your organization including sales, marketing, support, client services, product, documentation, and operations.

The lack of clear boundaries makes it very difficult to get executive buy-in with a customer experience program orsolution. The executives who find themselves leading the customer experience charge today come from varied backgrounds. For example, some come from a customer service background, while others come from UI or support backgrounds

After speaking with customer experience executives, as well as watching Oracle and SAP make massive pushes into CX, we feel great about MindTouch as a company.

We’ve got our own customer experience manager internally. Statistics show that CX is one of the fastest growing titles (even faster than user experience), and we’re at the front of the trend. We ourselves are learning firsthand how this position is evolving.

But most importantly, MindTouch has been offering and continuously improving it’s product help software by focusing on creating great experiences for our clients’ customers:

  • MindTouch extends its customer insights into multiple departments with each deployment, just as customer experience does. In the case of our customer Zuora, MindTouch connects sales, support, product, and technical documentation silos seamlessly, providing a means by which each department can continually contribute to the improvement of documentation, the product and the user experience all with the customers’ needs in sharp focus.
  • With our close connection between user experience and customer experience, MindTouch offers advanced and easy to use documentation authoring and publishing tools, enhanced usability, feedback and analytics, combining all of the major initiatives in customer experience today
  • The common vendors in the CX space are all around Analytics, Monitoring(support) and Feedback, including one common initiative called Voice of Customer (a fancy name for surveying customers for input). Meeting each of these needs, MindTouch has feedback built in to the product help platform, we have Analytics which  provide actionable data to gauge customers’ sense of product and support fulfillment, and we provide the means  author, publish and surface highly relevant product documentation and knowledge base assets  to customers looking for help or to learn more about the products they use.
  • Furthermore, MindTouch was founded upon an early recognition of the confluence between social networking and social commerce. That’s why MindTouch builds a product help experience that socializes product help and extends itself easily into social media sites like Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.MindTouch can easily be extended to any current Customer Experience initiative because of our extensible framework and open APIs.

An example is the MindTouch integration with Salesforce, Zendesk, SugarCRM, and a host of other support ticket and CRM applications, which greatly reduces ticket resolution times, and nurtures highly effective self-help in the process, reducing support costs while enhancing the customer experience.

The fast-growing customer experience space continues to evolve, and MindTouch is proud to be one of the pioneers in this movement. Customer experience has become a vital need for companies of all sizes, and we are eager to work with our customers to continually improve customer experience, ultimately leading to happier users and more successful companies.