Creating Content Beyond the Acquisition Funnel
A holistic approach to building the customer journey
Every interaction with your customers has the potential to create a lasting impression. And content plays a huge role in determining whether that impression is good or bad—often in ways that are easily overlooked.
As a new homeowner, I recently had an experience that made this concept all too real. Less than a month after making my first payment on my first-ever mortgage, my loan was transferred to a new servicing company. Their clean, friendly website soothed my anxiety about the transition; they looked and sounded like a company that cared about its customers. But within a week, I’d received a strange bill saying that my mortgage was past due, and my next payment needed to be twice(!) its normal amount.
When I logged in to investigate, I saw that my previous payment had been received but hadn’t been applied to my balance—with no further explanation. The help center didn’t cover my situation, and my email to customer service resulted in robotic, canned replies. I usually avoid calling customer service at all costs, but a letter threatening to report my account to the credit bureau scared me into picking up the phone. My support representative said I should just keep waiting. I was so confused—the company already had my money, they just had to put it in the right place.
After three weeks, several scary letters, and more fruitless calls, I finally reached a representative who explained that these errors are common and that I had a 60-day grace period before anything appeared on my credit report. I was relieved, for sure. But I also felt betrayed by the company as a result of their inconsistent, disconnected, and unhelpful content.
Content affects the whole customer experience
Marketing content often steals the spotlight when it comes to the customer journey. Thought leadership pieces, email campaigns, and targeted landing pages all help guide people from awareness to consideration to conversion. After they convert, however, your customers still interact with your company’s product and support content.
- Interface copy (e.g. buttons, errors, form fields)
- Account information
- Knowledge bases
- Call center and live chat scripts
- Social media support accounts
- Secure messages and mailed letters
As Jared Spool writes, “Content is what the user needs right now.” If people see it or need it, it’s content, and it affects their perception of your business. When thoughtfully planned and executed, these types of content can delight and build trust with customers. But they also have the power to confuse and frustrate.
Inconsistent content is also a customer experience liability: If your marketing website boasts friendly, on-brand copy, but your post-login site lacks personality and your help center is an outdated labyrinth of topics, it fragments your brand and sends a message to customers about where your priorities lie.
Of course, no one intentionally sets out to create bad content or a poor customer experience. There are so many people, systems, and politics involved that addressing the holistic customer journey can be slow, frustrating, and expensive. At the end of the day, however, your customers don’t know that a team in New York runs your marketing website, while your customer portal team sits in San José, and your support team is in Charlotte. They just see an inconsistent experience—and that’s a letdown.
Design won’t solve your content problems
If your company has a customer experience touchpoint that’s outdated, underperforming, or just plain broken, it may be tempting to overhaul the design first and focus on the content later. But content and design need to work together from day one of any project. Content can’t be an afterthought, or something that gets filled in later. Bringing “the content people” into a project when the design is nearing completion or the CMS has already been built is begging for trouble. There will inevitably be content needs that the designs didn’t account for, or that the CMS can’t accommodate. At best, writers will end up editing content to fit templates that they didn’t help define; at worst, expensive design and development rework might be in order.
Putting it into action
If you’re preparing to overhaul part or all of your customer experience, be sure to make space and time for content, starting from the very beginning:
- Bring relevant people together for collaborative planning sessions and workshops. This may involve reaching across teams and offices who don’t normally communicate with each other.
- Map your customer journey with a focus on the information that people need at each step, and compare that to your current experience. Identify and prioritize opportunities for improvement. Where is there redundant or disconnected content? What’s missing?
- Create a clear voice for your content and apply it consistently. (This voice and tone guide from MailChimp demonstrates how to use one voice, but varying tones, for different customer interactions.)
- Test draft content with customers to make sure you’re presenting them with useful, understandable information.
- Most importantly, make sure that the right people are empowered to create and update your product and support content, and find ways for them to collaborate on an ongoing basis. After all, your marketing content might get people in the door—but it’s the rest of your content that helps keep customers happy.
As the experience design group at Ogilvy, our designers, writers, data strategists, and researchers work hand-in-hand to make sure that all aspects of your customer experience, including your content, are working hard for your business and meeting real user needs. If you’re interested in how our measurable, human-centered approach can create meaningful impact for your company, contact us to start a conversation.