Kelly Shermach, Content Strategist
Customer service has spent its time in the shadow of sales and marketing. It was another kind of transaction—one that lacked vision or creativity. As part of the holistic customer experience, however, customer service has emerged as a worthy partner to sales in content marketing campaigns.
After all, marketing that drives leads and converts sales only keeps the corporate promise if great service follows.
More than any other internal business process, customer service interacts with your buyers along the customer journey. This constant connection has companies studying purchase decision making for a new purpose. According to Gartner, by 2018, 30% of large organizations will improve customer experience by integrating customer journey maps with business process models.
We believe customer service can play a role in strategic content distribution to improve customer experience and nurture partnerships. You can introduce content through your customer service processes after following these start-up steps.
1. Identify the buyer journey stages customer service teams frequently assist.
Not an easy task; we understand. A customer service function of one kind or another offers support along the customer journey, from engagement to contract renewal or product replacement or enhancement. These teams often go by different names: sales support, client services, client experience, even technical support. And they may deal with different “clients” within the customer company. Regardless, they undoubtedly can use strong content that speaks to your capabilities as a product or service provider, and ultimately, a business partner to your buyers.
2. Query customer service leaders and representatives on content that may improve the customer experience.
Contact center representatives likely understand the customer experience better from the outside-in than do sales or marketing team members. At our agency, we have heard marketers ask for sales enablement content, acknowledging that their sales support team sometimes wishes marketing worked like a content mill, grinding value propositions and brand positioning into copy that satisfies a client’s concerns and can be shared with other stakeholders.
Many marketing departments lack this kind of content. Client services, client experience and technical support often operate after order completion. They may not know the messaging used to win the business and thus be a detriment in delivering on client expectations. Checklists and other short-form assets can help these teams connect with customers, and hone service and support processes to coincide with company objectives.
3. Understand your customer process gaps, especially if your competitors don’t suffer from the same.
If the customer service function spans several teams, with a change in administration with every new phase of the client journey, gaps likely exist. These spots in which clients do not receive timely or accurate information, don’t know who in your company to contact regarding their immediate needs or do not know what steps they need to take frustrate customers and hurt their loyalty to your company. Content that speaks in a voice consistent with marketing communications can help bridge gaps perceived from the outside and draw teams on the inside together with a common customer care approach.
Pulling it all…into content.
After you’ve done your homework on your internal customer service teams and processes, you’re ready to develop and deploy content. As with any strategic content initiative, the executions must be measurable and deliver a positive return on investment. In other words, you’ll want to leverage customer service content tied to specific business goals with predictable outcomes.
As digital self-service channels proliferate and some customers show a predilection for these options, use content to drive them to act on their own behalf — to create a service ticket, for instance — and reduce operations costs. Content crafted for this purpose should include a call to action that offers appropriate live assistance as an alternative.
And while we’re on the subject of saving money, automated customer service communications cut customer care costs, too. For routine or predictable product maintenance, service outages (and resolutions), on-site installation or repair appointments, software upgrades or contract renewals, consider creating reusable content or assets that repurpose a boilerplate paragraph for multiple customer segments. Customers will delight in the proactive communications and free your customer service team for unexpected or urgent issues.
Drink the content-for-customer-service Kool-Aid
We encourage, nay, insist upon, consistent marketing messaging through multiple channels, whether the campaigns we build for clients aim to acquire, grow or retain their customers. That consistency should extend to everyday contact between customers and service representatives.
If you still don’t know where to start or recognize you would benefit from an outsider looking into your organization, reach out to Content4Demand. Our content strategists will outline possible customer service assets that meet your company objectives and align with your messaging.