Great companies aspire to deliver an exceptional customer experience, which we define this way:

The collective interactions, communications, and touchpoints between a company or organization and their customers across all channels.

Achieving an outstanding level of customer experience at an enterprise or a fast-growing business is much more easily said than done in our complex and changing times. But the stakes to do so are high. One recent study found that after just one negative experience with a company, half of customers reduce their spending or stop spending with that company altogether. Conversely, The Temkin Group found that companies earning $1 billion annually can expect to earn, on average, an additional $700 million annually within three years of investing in customer experience.

If your company is feeling pressure to close customer experience gaps, you’re certainly not alone. Gartner research found that more than 66% of companies see themselves as competing on customer experience—more than double the percentage in 2010. 

But, customers see companies falling short on customer experience. Recent research finds 54% of buyers believe companies treat customer service as an afterthought. If you’re ready to meet or exceed your customers’ expectations (and your desired bottom line), this article is for you.

Specifically, this article helps leaders in customer experience, customer success, product, support, or marketing diagnose the cause of customer experience problems more efficiently so you can develop more effective solutions. How? By explaining the role content plays in those problems—and potential solutions.

Related: What Is Customer Experience?

Let’s begin at the beginning of customer experience (CX) with the buying process.

CX Problem 1: Customers Abandon the Buying Process 

You might think of the buying process as a marketing and sales issue, but it’s also a significant customer experience issue. 

What This CX Problem Is

The buying process is essentially the customers’ perspective on the sales cycle. During the process, customers undergo a variety of research, evaluation, and purchasing steps. Throughout the process, customers might take actions that show deep consideration. Some examples include

  • Visiting buying guides or product / solution pages multiple times.
  • Signing up for email updates.
  • Downloading white papers, specifications, or in-depth guides.
  • Registering for a demo.
  • Signing up for a free trial.
  • Adding a product to an online shopping cart. 
  • Visiting the store or a pop-up venue.

Potential customers might abandon the buying process for a wide range of reasons, such as

  • A step or task in the buying process seems complicated, confusing, or time-consuming.
  • Customers are not clear on the relevance or value.
  • Customers are unhappy with excessive or irrelevant upselling and cross-selling. 
  • Customers don’t gain support from other stakeholders in the decision to buy.
  • Customers don’t get answers to their questions.
  • The checkout process is not mobile-friendly. 
  • Customers feel their payment information is not secure.
  • Customer doubts or concerns are not addressed.
  • Customers feel uncertain that the brand aligns with their values. 

Depending on your business type, you can consider different benchmarks that are useful. As two examples,

  • If your company has an e-commerce component where customers add items to a cart and checkout, be wary when your cart abandonment rate rises above 70%.
  • If your company sells to other companies (B2B), get concerned when your demo/trial-to-close ratio drops below 20%.

Why This CX Problem Matters

Of all the CX problems we’re covering in this article, the reason this matters might be the most obvious: revenue. For example, one study has found that a large e-commerce site can gain a whopping 35.26% increase in conversion rate by improving the checkout experience. And research by PwC revealed that 86% of buyers of all types are willing to pay more for a great customer experience.

What might be less obvious is that fixing this problem helps establish a long-term customer relationship that will lead to many more purchases beyond the first one. A successful buying process sets the right tone and expectations to ensure high customer satisfaction (more on satisfaction with CX Problem 2). 

Content As the Cause and Solution

Content is the substance of the buying process. Study after study after study shows that customers rely more on content and less on live people as they buy. 

  • For B2B sales, Gartner found that customers spend only 17% of their time meeting with sellers live, and 75% of customers would prefer a “rep-free” process, meaning no live meeting or interaction.
  • For B2C sales, a recent study found 67% of consumers have significantly increased their online purchasing since the pandemic.

Content can take a very wide range of forms in the buying process, depending on your business. Let’s consider several examples…

  • Buying guides, such as those offered by The Home Depot.
  • Product or solution descriptions.
  • Chatbot assistance.
  • Digital displays and signage in store.
  • White papers with advice, guidance, research, or points of view.
  • Product and plan comparisons.
  • Educational articles and videos.
  • Product explainer videos.
  • Demonstration webinars, events, and recordings.
  • Specifications.
  • Shipping details.
  • Ads across a variety of channels.
  • Check out wizards.
  • Return policies.
  • User-generated content such as reviews and ratings.
  • Success stories.
  • Guarantees, privacy statements, and security indicators.
  • Buttons, labels, and instructions throughout.

Again, those are examples to reflect a wide range, not a comprehensive list.

The Home Depot offers buying guides to help customers through the buying process

 

Here’s the kicker. That range of content is actually even wider. Content that you might not expect to be part of the buying process today actually is. Two key examples:

  • Product documentation, developer documentation, and user guides
    Just about every company today is a technology company on some level. So, savvy buyers actually look at this type of content to gauge how well it will support them.
  • Communications about purpose and values
    GenZ has high expectations for brands to reflect their values. And there is more interest than ever across generations in issues such as sustainability and inclusivity.

Related: What Is the Difference Between Plain and Inclusive Language?

To start understanding the potential impact of your content on improving the buying process, define the buyer journey for your business—or review it if it’s already defined. Then consider questions like these:

  • What content do we have to support each phase of the buying journey?
  • What content seems missing or needed?
  • Does our content address prospective customers’ questions?
  • Does our content help prospective customers compare options as they move through the buying process?
  • How does our content give prospective customers confidence in our brand, our offerings, and our ability to support their ongoing needs?
  • Can prospective customers easily find or get access to the right content in each phase?
  • What promises or claims do we make in our content? How do they manage customer expectations?
  • How quickly do we onboard or orient customers after they buy?

Related: 4 Ways to Make User Journeys Actually Useful for Content

Additionally, you can study content analytics from channels such as your website to reveal clues to customers’ interests and pain points. For example, if your website content to support the buying journey does not attract much organic traffic, chances are that content is not very findable through search engines.

You also can conduct more in-depth research into how your prospective customers make their buying decisions with tools such as ContentWRX and methods such as surveys and interviews.

Let’s turn to another common customer experience problem.

CX Problem 2: Customer Satisfaction Drops or Remains Low

Customer satisfaction falls well within the realm of customer experience.

What This CX Problem Is

The American Society for Quality defines customer satisfaction (also known as CSAT) this way:

Customer satisfaction is…a measurement that determines how happy customers are with a company’s products, services, and capabilities.

When customer satisfaction is low, it’s a sign that customers are not happy with those products, services, and capabilities–and all the interactions and communications they entail. Generally, a CSAT score below 80% and / or a ContentWRX score below 80 (out of 100) means your organization is falling short, perhaps very short, of customer expectations.

Why This CX Problem Matters

The stakes for low customer satisfaction are high. If your organization perpetually disappoints customers, you’re at risk of watching current customers leave, losing sales to new customers, damaging your brand (an important intangible asset), and more.

The good news is your return on investing in solving this CX problem can be very high. For instance, McKinsey has found that maximizing customer satisfaction throughout their journey has the potential to 

  • Increase customer satisfaction (CSAT) by 20%.
  • Lift revenue by up to 15%. 
  • Lower the cost of serving customers by 20%. 

If your CSAT score falls below 80%, you have opportunity to improve. Likewise, if your ContentWRX or content effectiveness score falls below 80/100, you have work to do. Boosting customer satisfaction both makes money and saves money. Consider how content plays a role.

Content As the Cause and Solution

Content is the substance of the entire customer experience. Everything from customer guides to button labels to emails to mobile notifications to chatbot scripts to FAQs are content. And we’re only scratching the surface. So, there are plenty of ways content can help or hinder satisfaction. Consider examples such as

  • Not fulfilling your brand promise by making claims or offers in the buying process that are not fulfilled.
  • Mismanaging or not managing expectations by not explaining next steps, onboarding customers quickly, offering the option to get more information easily, or leaving gaps in communication (such as a change in order status). For a great example of solving such a problem with content, don’t miss this example from Atlassian.
  • Using an inappropriate tone or context such as a cold, clinical tone in discussing an emotional topic or upselling while a customer is seeking help with a problem.
  • Leaving customer questions unanswered and other gaps between customer needs and your content.
  • Not empowering customers to succeed in using your product or offering correctly with onboarding, tips, best practices, or easy-to-use guides in context.
  • Not creating occasional “wow” moments that delight or help your customers, such as congratulating them on reaching a goal or offering a reward for their loyalty.

Of course, we’re not saying that you or your organization intend to create these problems. Chances are you assume your content will be accurate or set the right expectations, for example. But when your company is large and / or growing, it’s easy for different departments or groups to become misaligned, and that misalignment becomes evident in your content.

Related: What Makes Content Operations Successful? (Full Report)

One way to more specifically diagnose how your content contributes to customer satisfaction is to go beyond defining a buyer journey and define a full customer journey, then identify the content supporting—and not supporting—each phase. Involving all of the departments or teams responsible for the content makes this effort particularly fruitful.

Now, consider a third CX problem where content plays a role.

CX Problem 3: Customers Aren’t Using Your Self-Service Options 

Customer experience typically includes helping customers help themselves.

What This CX Problem Is

The definition of self service might seem obvious, but if you do a search, you’ll see significant differences. At Content Science, we define self service this way:

Self service is empowering customers to quickly and easily complete tasks, solve problems, and find answers to questions without assistance from a live person.

When your customers don’t use your self-service options, chances are either

  • Your customers aren’t aware of the options.
  • Those options aren’t quick and easy.

Generally, if your ticket / inquiry deflection rate falls below 25% and / or your ContentWRX score falls below 80, you have a problem. And no matter what your deflection rate, chances are your company has opportunity to improve.

Why This CX Problem Matters

Effective and scalable self-service options can save your organization significant amounts of money. One study found that the cost of a customer support call averages between $6 and $25, whereas a self-service or automated option costs ¢25. 

It’s also not hard to see how great self service goes hand in hand with a successful buying process and customer satisfaction (see CX Problems 1 and 2). Many customers do not necessarily want to make a call, or go to a store, or schedule a meeting if they can efficiently help themselves. Recent research finds 81% of customers want more self-service options, and 45% of customers are more likely to use self-service options now than they were before the pandemic. 

Content As the Cause and Solution

In self service, content replaces live people. That means the stakes for content in self service are even higher than for other customer experience issues.

More specifically, content in self service can take many forms, including but not limited to

  • Chatbots.
  • Frequently asked questions.
  • In-store or on-site kiosks.
  • “My Account” areas of websites or apps.
  • Knowledge bases and support portals.
  • Contextual help such as guides, wizards, and tips.
  • Notifications and reminders.
  • Social media responses.

To more specifically identify how content is helping or hindering your self service, consider questions like these:

    • Are customers aware of your self-service options? If not, consider how and where content can promote the options and educate customers about them. For instance, mention self service as a feature or benefit in the buying or onboarding process.
    • Can customers find self-service options? It’s not unusual for us to see self-service experiences that are disorganized and challenging to navigate. If your customers can’t find the right self-service content and functions, they might as well not exist. Consider whether you have the right taxonomy, metadata, governance, search engine optimization, and approach to personalization in place.
    • Is your self-service content answering real customer questions? A great way to start answering this question is to review customer inquiries and study analytics from channels such as your website. You also can conduct more in-depth customer research with tools such as ContentWRX and interview
    • Is your self-service content guiding customers through tasks? Every instruction, button label, status, error message, reminder, and other microcopy your customers see while completing a task is content. Getting that content right is the difference between customers completing a task or calling you with a complaint.

Let’s consider a related customer experience problem around feature adoption.

CX Problem 4: Customers Aren’t Adopting New Features or Offerings 

Customer experience plays a big role in leading customers to appropriate new features or offerings.

What This CX Problem Is

Especially important for digital products and services, adopting a new (or updated) feature or offering usually happens in one of two ways:

  • The customer has to purchase the new feature or offering. 
  • The customer does not have to purchase but usually has to take action to engage with or activate the new feature.

If your customers are not adopting new features or offerings, the problem likely is one of these three:

  • Customers aren’t aware of the feature or offering.
  • Customers don’t see enough value in the feature or offering.
  • Customers aren’t able to use the feature or offering appropriately. 

Related: Modern Content Strategy: Letting Go of Unified, Leaning Into Integrated

Generally, if your feature or offering rate falls below 30%, you have a problem. And chances are you have opportunities to optimize your rate, no matter where it stands currently.

Why This CX Problem Matters

For new features or offerings that the customer pays more for, new revenue is at stake. For new features or offerings that don’t require additional payment, customer satisfaction (see CX Problem 2) and churn (see CX Problem 5) are at stake. For instance, if customers think you don’t have a feature or capability they need, their satisfaction could drop and / or they could seek a different solution.

What’s more, a new feature or offering usually requires a significant investment of time and resources to plan, build, launch, and maintain. If customers don’t adopt the new feature or offering, your company not only loses the resources invested but also misses the opportunity to invest in something else that brings a return.

Content As the Cause and Solution

When it comes to new features or offerings, content that drives adoption can and should take many forms. A sample of possibilities includes

  • Notifications and alerts.
  • Contextual tips.
  • Live and recorded demos.
  • Guides.
  • Wizards.
  • Release notes.
  • Feature or offering descriptions.
  • FAQs.
  • Emails.
  • Examples or case studies of use.
  • Reminders.
  • Webinars.
  • Social media posts.

For example, Waze uses this pop-up, phrased as a question, to nudge electric car users to use a new feature that displays charging stations. By phrasing the feature announcement as a question, Waze positions the announcement as a useful tip. The announcement also enables the customer to quickly adopt the feature with the “Update settings” option. 

A helpful notification of a new feature in Waze. 

 

Also, consider that using a feature or offering once usually doesn’t count as true adoption. If customers do not use a new feature repeatedly, you also have an opportunity to improve. So, those reminders, tips, and nudges can help keep your customers engaged.

To better understand whether content is doing all it can to drive adoption, consider

  • Creating flow diagrams that demonstrate different ways you can lead customers to adopt.
  • Mapping what content and techniques you’re currently using, then identifying what new content or techniques you could apply.
  • Personalizing or tailoring the content and techniques based on your customers’ preferences, settings, or behavior. For instance, when a FitBit customer achieves a goal or earns a badge, FitBit suggests premium content relevant to that achievement.
  • Reviewing analytics to understand how well the content and techniques are working. For instance, if you offer a tip along the lines of the Waze example, how many customers act on it?

We’ve mentioned the value of considering analytics several times in this article. What’s different for this problem is the value of product or app analytics. If your business has a robust mobile application or if your company focuses on digital products, then you will find analytics about how customers use the app or product invaluable. But we find obtaining those analytics, in many organizations, is shockingly difficult. Product analytics are not as easy to set up as website analytics, and they’re often an afterthought compared to website and other marketing analytics. Yet, if your business truly believes it’s competing on the complete customer experience, your business needs to invest in complete analytics. 

Related: 3 Tips for Turning Content Measurement into Actionable Insight

CX Problem 5: Customers Churn

What This CX Problem Is

Customer churn or attrition is when your customers stop being your customers. This might mean customers do not renew a subscription, contract, or relationship with a business and / or switch to competitors. 

If your company hasn’t been preventing or fixing CX problems 2, 3, and 4, then you are (or soon will be) experiencing high churn or attrition, too. When customer churn rises above 10%, your organization might have a problem.

Why This CX Problem Matters

To an extent, the reason this problem matters is a no-brainer: Losing immediate revenue. But the loss goes beyond that revenue. Your company also loses opportunities, such as chances to

  • Win over those customers as loyal advocates who bolster your brand reputation through word of mouth or user-generated content such as reviews.
  • Upsell or cross-sell to those customers.
  • Gain insight from the first-party data of those customers’ behaviors and feedback.

Your company also faces new costs to replace the customers. Generally, it costs five to seven times more to win a new customer than to retain an existing customer.

Content As the Cause and Solution

Because CX problems 2, 3, and 4 contribute heavily to churn, so do the content issues mentioned for those problems. Content also can play a key role in communications during the time window immediately before and after customers churn, with examples including but not limited to

  • Scripts and guides for chat and call center associates.
  • Messages, instructions, and labels in cancellation interfaces and emails.
  • Offers to make a new purchase at a discount or to continue a subscription with a free add-on or discount.
  • Notifications reminding customers to engage and why.
  • Emails with promotions to win churned customers back.

To use content more effectively in addressing churn, consider questions like these:

  • Do we identify signs that a customer is at risk of churning? If so, what do we do about it? Research repeatedly shows that the more proactive you are in communicating productively with customers, the less likely they will churn.
  • Do we reach out to customers who have not signed in, purchased, or otherwise engaged with us for a long time period? If so, what do we sayand what content do we share? If not, how can we start doing so?
  • Do we try to find out why a customer obviously churns, such as cancels a subscription? If so, how can we use the insights gained in our content for CX problems 1-4? If not, how can we start doing so?
  • Do we try to win customers back in a timely way? If so, what and how do we communicate to them? If not, how can we start doing so?

 

We’ve covered a lot of ground in this article, so the table below summarizes a few key points for your reference.

Addressing Content in CX Problems
Problem + Sample BenchmarksRole of Content
1. High Purchase Abandonment
Customers start a buying process but do not finish it.

Cart abandonment above 70%
Demo / trial to close ratio below 20%
ContentWRX (CWRX) score below 80
Guides buyer through the buying process
Reminds buyer to complete purchase
Provides UX for payment options
Prompts buyer to upgrade purchase or make additional purchases
2. Low Customer Satisfaction
Customers have a low or declining opinion of using your business.

CSAT below 80%
CWRX below 80
Facilitates communication by requesting feedback and managing expectations
Empowers customer success by providing tips and helpful information
Creates ease-of-use with effective microcopy and useful UX
Establishes a friendly, welcoming tone
3. Low Utilization of Self Service
Customers are over-reliant on customer support options.

Ticket deflection below 25%
CWRX below 80
Informs customers about what self-service options are available
Provides answers to common questions
Offers contextual help to navigate self-service portals and help options
Provides a “human touch” with chatbots
4. Low Feature Adoption
Customers do not express interest in or don’t regularly use new features.

Adoption below 30%
Announces new feature
Explains why or creates examples of how the new feature is valuable
Details specific functions, requirements, and limitations of the feature
Adds additional value to the feature through personalization and tailoring
5. More Customer Churn
Customers do not renew/repurchase with your business or switch to a competitor.

Churn above 10%

Offers touchpoints to encourage customer-business communication
Provides scripts and guides for customer support and customer success staff
Creates copy and interactables in cancellation forms and emails
Communicates additional value offerings to win churned customers back

 

The Promise of an End-to-End Content Approach for CX

Content makes or breaks the customer experience. This article has outlined five critical CX problems that are often content problems and, consequently, benefit from content solutions.

We find that CX problems rarely happen as isolated one-offs, but many organizations try to solve them that way. When that happens, tackling customer experience problems becomes like that (perhaps overly violent) game Whac-a-Mole. You think you have addressed one, and another one immediately pops up.

We find a much more effective solution is to embrace an end-to-end content approach that supports the end-to-end customer experience. To learn more about why and how to start an end-to-end content initiative, check out The Ultimate Guide to End-to-End Content.

The Authors

Colleen Jones is the author of the top-rated book The Content Advantage and president of Content Science, a growing professional services firm that turns content insight into impact. She has advised or trained hundreds of leading companies and organizations as they close the content gap in their digital transformations. A passionate entrepreneur, Colleen has led Content Science to develop the content intelligence software ContentWRX, publish the online magazine Content Science Review, and offer online certifications and training through Content Science Academy.

A member of Mensa and crusader against misinformation, Colleen has earned recognition as a top instructor on LinkedIn Learning, one of the Top 50 Most Influential Women in Content Marketing, and a Content Change Agent by Intercom Magazine. She speaks about content issues in artificial intelligence, digital transformation, and customer experience at corporate and industry events around the world.

Follow Colleen on LinkedIn.


Content Science partners with the world’s leading organizations to close the content gap in digital business. We bring together the complete capabilities you need to transform or scale your content approach. Through proprietary data, smart strategy, expert consulting, creative production, and one-of-a-kind products like ContentWRX and Content Science Academy, we turn insight into impact. Don’t simply compete on content. Win.

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