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Delivering Powerful Customer Support with Contextualized Information

In a fiercely competitive world, creating genuine brand loyalty has never been more important. Key to earning that loyalty is giving customers a great experience at each and every stage of their journey with you. Learn about the growing demand for delivering contextually relevant customer support experiences. And, how ‘intelligent content’ and management of support assets can help you drive business results in an omnichannel world.

Delivering Powerful Customer Support with Contextualized Information

Content Summary

Executive summary
Why customer experience matters
Contextualizing the customer experience
Why contextualization makes all the difference
How content volumes explode
Solving the contextualization challenge
Eliminate the complexities
Satisfying online customers
Conclusion

Executive summary

Businesses now live in a digital world awash with rivals. Power has shifted from the seller to the buyer and with so many options to choose from, customers can almost always get exactly what they are looking for to meet their needs.

In such a fiercely competitive world, creating genuine brand loyalty has never been more important.

But loyalty doesn’t just happen. It has to be earned. And key to earning that loyalty is giving customers a great experience at each and every stage of their journey with you. Excellent customer support is fundamental to providing that great experience, and is increasingly a means of building brand loyalty and gaining a competitive advantage.

This article explores the trends behind the growing demand for delivering contextually relevant customer support experiences. It outlines how using the right solution to manage support information assets can help drive your success in an omnichannel, multi-device, multilingual and multi-preference world.

Why customer experience matters

Technology has over the last few decades fundamentally changed the nature of the relationship between brands and customers. Whereas before companies were in control, dispatching one-way monologues through mass media in the form of TV, national press, and radio ads, customers now have the ability to conduct, and indeed expect, a two-way dialogue with companies through a myriad of channels.

Customers hold the power in the relationship with companies. They demand easy, effective service that respects their precious time and provides them with personal experiences that are relevant to them. They increasingly use self-service and digital channels to interact with companies as these channels are convenient and help them get what they want, when they want it.

If companies can meet or even exceed customer expectations by delivering great customer experiences, then customers will keep buying from them rather than their rivals. Good customer service increases loyalty and great customer service can even convert customers into brand advocates who willingly, and freely, share their experiences with others.

This has a direct – and quantifiable – impact on revenue

  • Customer-centric companies are 60% more profitable than companies that don’t focus on customers
  • Brands with superior customer experience bring in 5.7 times more revenue than competitors that lag in customer experience
  • 84% of companies that work to improve their customer experience report an increase

Contextualizing the customer experience

The vital importance of the customer experience to a company’s success is clear – but being able to deliver a great customer experience each and every time takes a lot of organization, resources and sheer hard work.

In a world where buyers use multiple devices during their journey with you – from research right through to after-sales support – you need to deliver the right information, at the right time, in the right format and language. However, doing so is easier said than done.

The first step is to understand the customer ’s context and act accordingly.

The customer context is a combination of all the different factors that can shape a customer’s digital experience with a brand. It includes elements such as time of day, day of the week, their location, the local weather, the device being used, their situation, and the task that person is trying to accomplish (for example business versus leisure).

However, the customer context doesn’t end there. Organizations must also take into account their language preference, their purchase history, past interactions with your help desk, or any characteristics that are important to them. It’s also important to understand where people are in their buying cycle – which can range from information gathering, through purchase, to after-sales support.

For example, in a car dealership, if someone has just bought a car, they are unlikely to be buying another one immediately – bombarding them with sales messages on the latest models is more likely to irritate them than endear you to them. However, a follow-up call to see how they are getting on with the car after a week, a month, and three months might be appreciated and help keep you in mind.

Early reminders for servicing, with links to book in at a time that suits them, may also go down well and will help the customer think more positively about their experience with you and increase the likelihood that they will stay loyal.

In essence, context includes everything that can influence how the next interaction with a customer should be shaped in order to deliver a relevant customer experience.

Why contextualization makes all the difference

“To succeed in today’s digital environment, firms must deliver smarter, more customer-centric interactions that feel like they were tailored for each user and his or her specific set of circumstances. That’s why firms need to evolve their thinking to focus on contextualization.”

“Contextualization combines and extends existing segmentation and personalization techniques with in-the-moment details…” to deliver “a tailored, adaptive, and sometimes predictive digital customer experience.”

How content volumes explode

Before looking at the challenges of producing contextualized information, let’s look at the content challenges that already exist for many organizations.

Let’s say you need to deliver support information for a specific product line on multiple channels and devices.

Because you serve a global audience, you need to produce this information in 10 languages. For ease of calculation, let’s assume that you need 3 different kinds of formats to cover different channels and devices – video, website and app.

Content volumes can quickly multiply…

Content volumes can quickly multiply

The entire content production process is often complicated and frustrating, as files with support information are sent back and forth for review, mark-up and edits, translation and layout. Also, different people are involved at various stages, depending on their expertise, meaning access rights and version control can be an issue.

At the end of the process, you need to import all the resulting files into various systems, usually with copy/paste, and publish the final information.

Clearly this is a very arduous and error-prone process.

Of course, nothing stands still for long and before you know it your products have evolved – and the support information needs to be updated or recreated. You have to go through the process of updating this information again, or create derivative versions for product lines that are similar but have subtle differences. And you need to keep doing this on a regular basis.

Problems with version control become even more challenging, and because derivative content is usually created by using copy/paste, you end up with an unmanageable number of files, assets and web pages on your hands.

Solving the contextualization challenge

As we have seen, many organizations already find it challenging to manage the production and distribution of multiple support assets that customers increasingly expect. Having to contextualize business information to create great customer experiences on top of this just adds another layer of complexity to an already complicated and challenging situation – one that can make the task seem overwhelming.

However, with contextualization the aim of the game is not to further complicate the traditional inside-out approach to the customer experience, which can lead to over-engineered personalization efforts, but instead facilitate the move to an outside-in approach, where great customer experiences take centre stage.

Each stage of the customer’s journey with you needs to be built on good customer experiences. And those experiences in turn rely on good content and up-to-date data that makes it easy for customers to find what they are looking for, on whatever channel they want, in the language they want.

To be able to contextualize your content in an optimized manner requires your content to be granular – like Lego® bricks – that you can then combine and reconfigure for each particular context, and that can be modified again and again to include new updates or revisions if required.

Imagine not having to redo all the work involved in translating or processing an entire document for each and every channel, and instead just working on the section that needs changing once!

It is possible to do so – but it must be built on good structured data. That data may come from your CRM system, a support system, from the current web session, or any other data source that can provide you with additional information on the customer or prospect.

To match the right data points with the right content, the content itself needs to be intelligent – that is componentized, structured, reusable, semantically rich and format free.

How a CCMS can deliver powerful customer support

Videos embedded in support content led to:

  • 20% reduction in support calls
  • 15% increase in CSATS

Eliminate the complexities

So how can your business deliver contextually relevant support information and satisfy consumer expectations – without incurring through-the-roof expenses and taking on more staff?

The answer is to take advantage of a technology solution that enables you to mitigate the silos and gaps in the process and greatly reduce the overall complexity of the content creation and delivery process.

A Component Content Management System (CCMS) provides a way to break up larger pieces of information into smaller chunks or topics, and reuse them in many different ways over a longer period of time. Importantly, it allows you to do all of that while also delivering optimized support experiences to the widest range of touchpoints.

Starting at the production phase, Subject Matter Experts in your development, support and knowledge management teams can work with easy-to-use editorial tools that help them author, revise and publish the correct information – creating a ‘single source of truth’ that can then be used and reused multiple times across multiple channels and updated automatically across them all if you should need to. As the information is the same wherever it appears, it gives you, and your customers, the consistency of information that you both crave, and ends the painstaking task of hunting out older incorrect versions.

The solution can also connect directly to any in-house content and data systems to support existing production processes.

By using metadata, the information is enriched to classify it in the right way for the correct product lines, markets, audiences or other criteria, so that automated contextual delivery can become a reality.

Once content has been created and tagged centrally in a CCMS, it’s so much simpler to manage all the variants and their translations. The system will keep track of the variants so that the knock-on effect of changing something is fully understood. Automated republishing of updated information can happen at the click of a button.

Also, the system can automatically reuse previous translations, so that when an update of information is needed, only the changed bits of information are sent through a translation workflow, which can be fully integrated into the overall work-flow process.

When you are ready to publish, you simply specify your preferences for output file formats, channels and languages, and the system then handles the automatic creation of all the deliverables. You can also make use of templates to automatically render PDF assets, and export information in JSON, HTML or any other desired output format.

It is also possible to access all your asset variants via a single URL. You set your URL parameters to determine which variant of your information to deliver to each site visitor – whether that means delivering a French version to someone on a tablet or a German version to someone on a smartphone. In other words, from a single web page, you can easily and dynamically deliver any number of contextually relevant customer support assets.

Automation helps manage global content volumes

Automation helps manage global content volumes

Satisfying online customers

Let’s look at an example of how this would work in practice.

Imagine your company manufactures printers and provides product documentation in the form of PDF manuals, via an online customer portal.

Trying to troubleshoot a specific problem, like fixing a paper jam, would be a frustrating experience for a customer who is made to wade through a hefty manual to find what they are looking for.

A better approach would be to take customers from a Google search result to the relevant page on your support website, featuring a step-by-step troubleshooting guide, supplemented with an instructional video, explaining how to fix the problem.

And you can do just that – and deliver a more satisfying customer experience – by tapping into a Component Content Management System.

You could further contextualize the experience by associating different printer models with the troubleshooting procedure – so customers would only see the appropriate printer in the video, and the text would describe the exact steps needed to fix the paper jam just for that particular model. Moreover, you could identify the site visitor’s geographic location to serve up content in the right language, and even deliver the right subtitles or voiceover.

In the end, your customers would have the best possible troubleshooting experience – tailored to the product they own, the exact issue they are experiencing, in their language and geographic location.

From a management perspective, the process is straightforward. You only have to maintain a simple set of content components. The system is intelligent enough to automatically select the right information snippet for you – it relies on the interaction between the metadata associated with your structured content, and the search query or the session information associated with the web page.

But the benefits don’t end there. Structured content allows the use of analytics to measure various aspects of information usage. By using analytics, you can understand which information components are viewed most often. This allows you to identify customer trends – such as a significant number of customers experiencing paper jams with a certain printer model, or flag that there is missing information that needs to be developed. With this insight, your company can improve its online help and even the products themselves, further improving the overall customer experience in both the short and long term.

The system is intelligent enough to automatically select the right information snippet for you

Conclusion

Today’s customers hold the power in their relationships with companies and have high expectations of the customer service and support companies provide.

They expect to be served with consistent, personalized and contextually accurate experiences – and support information plays a crucial role in delivering that to them.

To meet or even exceed their expectations you need the operational agility to manage large numbers of similar content assets in a highly optimized way, and the ability to easily share those assets across a myriad of digital channels.

The key to success is using a solution that removes the inherent complexity and management overhead involved in producing content, and that reduces the business risk that incorrect information causes, so you can focus on driving relevant and rich customer support experiences, easily and consistently.

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