What is Customer-Centric Content Management?
President, The Rockley Group Inc.
Customer-centric content management addresses customer needs at every touchpoint, while driving down content costs and improving processes. This article identifies why we need to move to a customer-centric content management focus and provides an outline of its components.
Good customer relationships are at the heart of business success and the way you communicate with customers is critical to that success. Inconsistent, poor quality, incomplete customer-facing content or content that does not assist your customer to achieve their needs, whether intended for the Web, product documents, or marketing collateral, can have serious consequences, such as a brand deterioration, lower customer satisfaction, and even legal liability.
Organizations typically cost-justify and adopt content management based on:
- Increased content control
- Reduced time to create, manage and deliver content
- Reduced localization costs
- Increased quality
- Better support of regulatory requirements
These are all very good and very effective reasons for adopting content management, but they deal with the organization's reason for adopting content management and do not address the requirements of the customer, the people who use your content. Frequently, there is no customer-centric strategy across the Web site, let alone across all the other points at which the organization can touch customers with messages, content, or functionality. For the organization, it is difficult to assess the value that content adds to business goals and aligning content across the silos (pre and post-sales materials and customer support) is difficult. Initial gains as a result of process improvement-oriented content management can be sustained only if you address customer needs. More importantly, it is the customer's needs that will address your overall organizational needs.
This means that you need to focus on the customer. You need to address customer needs at every touchpoint (Web, print, call centers, mobile, kiosk, etc.) You need to provide a seamless experience for a customer from their first contact (pre-sales) through purchase, usage, maintenance and back through the cycle again as they continue to purchase and use your products and services. For example, you want to be able to link from materials like user guides or FAQs back to current marketing campaigns that would assist your customer in broadening their use of your product or service. Or you could make it possible for someone who is exploring a product for potential purchase to link into a tutorial to get an understanding of how it works (typically post-sales materials), or link someone from a user guide to an FAQ and then into self-serve to change some of their options. The customer follows a continuum of discovery and knowledge acquisition and your content strategy needs to reflect this.
In addition to the Web, you need to focus on carrying the customer experience across the channels (print, mobile, customer service). Too often the customer receives a disjointed experience as they make their way through the many siloed communication touchpoints. For example:
- An existing customer hears about a promotion and they wonder what it would cost if they added it to the services they already have in place. They can find lots about the costs of the service alone on the Web but can't find out what it would cost with their other services. They call customer services to find out. Customer service doesn't have any information on the new service (they are working with an entirely different set of content that hasn't been updated yet) and can't help.
- A customer is pondering the purchase of a new product. They can find lots of marketing information, but not information that would really give them an understanding of the product and its functionality. They decide not to purchase because they simply don't have enough information to make an informed decision. If they had access to the product usage/support materials they might have been able to make the right decision.
- A customer is trying to figure out how to get a certain set of functionality. They find a relevant FAQ that tells them how a feature should be set, but they don't have that feature configured so they can't make the adjustment. They give up in frustration and call customer support. If they had been linked to the self-serve portion of the site, they could change their configuration on their own.
By thinking in terms of where the customer is at any point in the lifecycle and providing content for whatever they need/want to do next, we can provide a more unified and effective customer experience.
Organizations create huge amounts of customer facing content and they are putting a lot of time and effort into managing their customer relationships. However, content is usualy siloed and does not provide maximum value to customers because content is not easily discoverable, lacks consistency from one silo to another, and is limited in implementation and value. For the organization, it is difficult to assess the value that content adds to business goals and aligning content across the silos (pre and post-sales materials and customer support) is difficult. There is no customer-centric content strategy across the Web, let alone across all the other points at which the organization can touch customers with messages, content, or functionality.
Customer-centric content management addresses customer needs at every touchpoint, while driving down content costs, and improving processes. A customer-centric strategy:
- Identifies customer needs and tasks at every point in the customer relationship lifecycle
- Identifies key and optional content for every lifecycle phase
- Provides paths through the content that ensure customer task success
- Optimizes content retrieval and delivery
- Bridges content silos to ensure harmonized branding, messaging and content within and across channels
- Optimizes content reuse for consistency and accuracy
- Reduces the cost of content creation, localization, management, and delivery