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  • Writer's pictureStephanie Thum, Ph.D., CCXP

Want to improve customer experience? Start with content!

Updated: Dec 20, 2020

This article originally appeared on The Future of Customer Engagement and Experience.

Communication is fundamental to customer experience. In fact, I’d even say a good customer experience is probably also a great communication experience. Yet, communication is where too many companies keep losing opportunities with customers – they don’t recognize that content improves CX.

That’s because communication — especially the content created to convey how you solve customers’ problems — really isn’t that simple.

The customer journey: Every public-facing word is an opportunity for content to improve CX

Think about it for a second. A customer’s experience often begins with some kind of content:

  • signage

  • directions

  • labels

  • applications

  • forms

  • websites

These pieces of content are usually the first impression customers have of your company.

Then, there’s the follow-on experience: actually following your directions, spotting your signage, filling out your application form, reading a package label, finding an order status on an app, getting good pricing information from a contact center rep, and understanding the bill when it arrives.

Some organizations do a pretty good job of recognizing how content improves CX. But others just…don’t.

In one recent study:

  • 64% of customers said they experience difficulty when trying to navigate websites.

  • 80% of businesses said their company e-mails were easy but only 61% of customers agreed.

  • 71% of businesses thought their websites were easy to use but only 53% of customers agreed.

Why content matters to commerce and customer experience

To get and keep a customer’s attention, your content has to be clear, consistent, comprehendible, and accurate.

A few years ago, one U.S. government agency was publicly shamed by an oversight body for confusing customers with inconsistent content that was scattered across the agency’s digital channels.

But there’s no such oversight in the private sector, unless you count the power of customers. If they feel hassled by confusion, they’ll just click elsewhere to find clarity with one of your competitors.

The case for simplicity: How content improves CX

Psychologist and author John Whalen recently noted: “The more emotion is tied to what is being accomplished, the more customers respond to simpler language.”

That means there’s a case for simplicity in content that’s designed for commerce. But simplicity is about more than just the words you choose to write down. It’s about constructing clear, consistent, comprehendible, and accurate messages that harmonize with everything else in your portfolio.

Content improves CX, full stop. Here are some things to think about when planning content:

  1. Clarity: Is what you’re writing helpful to the customer (in their eyes, not yours)? Is it understandable? Is the flow logical? Do the headings help guide the customer along the main points? Keep in mind, the purpose of great content is to help customers understand, take action, and solve their problems.

  2. Consistency: Does the one thing you’re creating right now harmonize with everything else that customers see and hear on your website, in your brochures, on your app, and social media sites? Disharmony creates confusion for customers. Confusion equals friction.

  3. Comprehendible: Jargon, weird words, and acronyms get in the way of customers being able to comprehend your message. You will find these problem areas in service applications, on forms, and in troubleshooting guides. These are documents that create connections between you and your customers. Don’t assume they should just know your company acronyms and vernacular.

  4. Just because content is easily understood does not mean it’s accurate. Inaccurate content can be brand-eroding, wrong, or even dangerous. Quadruple check the accuracy of your content.

Great content is hard work: Preparing for and tracking success

There are a few ways to set the table for success. Here are a few ideas.

  1. Build content mindfulness into your company’s DNA. The UK parliament’s customer service charter spells out their commitment to simplicity in customer interactions. If government can create guidelines for simplicity in customer interactions, so can private sector companies.

  2. Use a website intercept survey and ask! and the National Library of Medicine, for example, use an intercept survey that asks website visitors: “Is this page helpful?” Based on responses, triage teams in the background fix what doesn’t make sense to visitors.

  3. Check bounce rates in your website analytics. Customers will bounce for a variety of reasons, including confusing content.

Effective content can create connections to, and clarity for, customers. However, if customers cannot understand your product descriptions, service applications, forms, rules, or directions, then you’re at a disadvantage for keeping their attention and earning their business.

But when you get it right, communication CX can be your secret weapon in creating great customer experiences. So be sure to give your customer-facing content the right amount of attention, skill, and expertise necessary to thrive.

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