Content Strategy

What If We Treated Customer Service Content as Content Marketing?

By Christine Warner on November 8, 2018

"Help!" It's the word-usually in the form of a text link, navigation tab, icon, or widget-that directs you to customer service content.

It should send you on a quick and satisfying search for answers. Yet often you wind up down a black hole of unhelpfulness, clicking from one article or resource to the next in the hopes of uncovering a solution, but ending with only further frustrations.

How many times have you given up after a futile search for support that promises help but delivers confusion? Cue an angry email (or three) to your customer service rep.

Support content-created to aid and educate current customers, clients, or users-is easy to overlook as part of a successful customer retention strategy. However, it's one of the most important marketing channels for engaging and maintaining your audience.

Marketing Drives the Customer Experience-Even Outside Marketing

Let's take a step back to look at the big picture. A report by IBM's Institute for Business Value, based on interviews with over 2,000 CMOs, uncovered the evolving role of the chief marketing officer-beyond traditional marketing lanes. As one CMO reported, "The role of the CMO is evolving into 'Chief Experience Officer.' We need to own the client experience from beginning to end, across the organization."

Closest to the needs of customers, CMOs need to apply their intuition and expertise to all phases of the customer experience and journey. The report discovered that more than 70 percent of CMOs feel their professional success comes from their ability to lead organizational growth and change. The alignment of marketing and customer service is part of this organizational evolution.

Customer retention is a huge source of revenue and savings for any organization when compared to the marketing investment needed to acquire new customers, and support content is necessary and influential in any customer retention strategy. Leveling up help resources and content can turn into a solid case for the power of content (and marketing in general) to drive business revenue.

customer support experience

Image attribution: Ron Jake Roque

Support Content Can Make or Break the Customer Experience

Zendesk research found that 66 percent of B2B and 52 percent of B2C customers stop buying after a bad customer service interaction-pretty staggering stats. On the other hand, the study found that 24 percent continued to seek out vendors two or more years after a good customer service experience. Clearly, the right support can be the difference between keeping or losing business.

News of a single bad customer interaction can reach many ears. Of the 95 percent of people who share bad customer experiences, 54 percent share the bad news with more than five people-that's in comparison to just 33 percent of people who share positive experiences with over five peers. People react strongest (and most loudly) to negative B2B experiences, so it's the responsibility of brands to minimize these poor impressions whenever they can.

Whatever state your own customer service content is in, make sure you're giving it the same high-touch treatment as any other marketing content. This starts with collaboration between marketing and customer support to ensure all of your messaging and branding is unified for every stage in the customer life cycle.

Customer Support and Marketing Goals Need to Align

Work with your customer support management to align on goals for acquisition marketing and customer retention. It's important to set the standard that investing in customer service is investing in your customer retention strategy. This will also show how content is a valuable asset across multiple departments-not just marketing.

This can mean shared planning across departments, regular support content audits, and bringing in creative talent to elevate the quality of your customer service content.

Remember, marketing can't slow down after the sale. Particularly for brands that rely on frequent or complex product releases or updates, it's important to make sure your customer service content keeps up with the pace of acquisition and branding efforts. Whenever you launch a new product, feature, or service, make sure you have adequate support content at the time of launch to help relieve the learning curve.

frustrated with online support

Image attribution: Tim Gouw

Improving Customer Support Can Turn Business Around

It's easier said than done, but turning a poor customer experience into a great one is a game changer and moneymaker. Don't let a lack of emphasis on the quality of support content be the reason you lose a customer or get a tarnished reputation. In addition to well-trained support staff and tools, keep the help materials fresh. Treat support content like any content marketing, using messaging that is both digestible and engaging.

The findings from SuperOffice's 2018 Customer Service Benchmark Report prove the power of the little things and low-hanging fruit with customer service. The research, covering 1,000 companies, shows that the majority of these firms are failing to meet customer expectations. This ends up costing millions of dollars in extraneous internal work and lost customers.

Don't be that brand known for turning away customers due to bad support and content experiences. Elevating your customer support content can be the tipping point you need to turn things around.

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Christine Warner

Christine Warner is a freelance writer and digital marketer with agency, brand, and non-profit experience developing integrated campaigns and content platforms for diverse brands such as Uber, Samsung, Walgreens, Victoria’s Secret, Dunkin’ Donuts, and Dignity Health. Her digital marketing specialties include content marketing strategy, customer relationship management, brand product marketing, digital media planning, social media marketing, and search engine optimization. Currently, she is the Senior Manager of Digital for the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, where she oversees the digital marketing efforts for the various non-profit communities and ministries throughout Southern California. As a freelance writer, she contributes regularly to various lifestyle and marketing publications. You can check out her writing portfolio to browse all her work.