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.
Let’s begin at the beginning of customer experience (CX) with 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.
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
Potential customers might abandon the buying process for a wide range of reasons, such as
Depending on your business type, you can consider different benchmarks that are useful. As two examples,
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 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.
Content can take a very wide range of forms in the buying process, depending on your business. Let’s consider several examples…
Again, those are examples to reflect a wide range, not a comprehensive list.
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:
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:
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.
Customer satisfaction falls well within the realm of customer experience.
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.
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
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 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
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.
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.
Customer experience typically includes helping customers help themselves.
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
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.
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.
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
To more specifically identify how content is helping or hindering your self service, consider questions like these:
Let’s consider a related customer experience problem around feature adoption.
Customer experience plays a big role in leading customers to appropriate new features or offerings.
Especially important for digital products and services, adopting a new (or updated) feature or offering usually happens in one of two ways:
If your customers are not adopting new features or offerings, the problem likely is one of these three:
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.
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.
When it comes to new features or offerings, content that drives adoption can and should take many forms. A sample of possibilities includes
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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.
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
To use content more effectively in addressing churn, consider questions like these:
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 Benchmarks||Role 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
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.
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