4 Ways that Great Product Content Helps Reduce Customer Churn
They might be the two scariest words in the business world. No, we aren’t talking about Great Recession. This is even more terrifying, because at least with Great Recessions, there is the belief that one day –- though perhaps not for quite a while – the deep financial freeze will thaw and green shoots will re-appear. But with what we’re referring to here, there may never be a proverbial light at the end of the tunnel (or if so, it may be an oncoming train barreling down the tracks).
Of course — and with apologies to the blood pressure of sales reps, managers and executives everywhere – we’re talking about dreaded customer churn. And while this is a looming problem for most companies, for SaaS organizations the scourge of customer churn is even more intense. Forget about hyper-aggressive competitors and incomprehensible government policies. Customer churn makes those classic threats look like friendly, fluffy puppy dogs.
Considering this unwelcome but unavoidable reality, companies spend a significant amount of money and time trying to reduce or, better yet, prevent customer churn. For example, using a pre-sales force to help develop leads into qualified prospects can put a major dent in churn rates. Implementing a tight, structured hand-off between sales reps and account managers can also make a difference. And making sure that end user orientation and training is part of the implementation plan can achieve wonders.
Yet there is another piece of the puzzle that many companies overlook, even though it is likely simpler, easier to manage, and more affordable than most other best practices and strategies. Below, we highlight the four ways that great product content can help keep customer churn tolerable — instead of terrifying.
- Use Product Content to Make it Fast and Easy for Customers to Find Precise Answers
A survey by digital marketer Steven Van Belleghem found that 48 percent of customers want self-support options when addressing post-sales issues. But if customers feel that the process is time consuming or tedious – i.e. if the self-support isn’t supportive enough– they will disengage, and the intention to churn can take root.
Companies should avoid this lose-lose scenario by letting customers rapidly and easily access all product content from a single hub, so they can find the precise answers they need through various search options (e.g. full-text, faceted and fuzzy). It’s also critical that customers can search and find as easily from their tablet and smartphone as they can from their desktop computer.
- Use Product Content to Delight Customers with Personalization
Customers who deem themselves “satisfied” with a company may nevertheless be passive, and therefore easily wooed by competitors. According to Bain & Company, the remedy is to earn customer loyalty — and therefore avoid churn — by delighting them at key moments.
Obviously, a key moment in the buyer’s journey is when customers need to learn more about the product or service they have purchased (or that was purchased by their organization). As such, companies should step forward and inspire delight by enabling customers to build personalized publications based on what is relevant to them (e.g. workflows, configurations, feature usage, best practices, etc.). Companies should augment this personalized experience by providing product content recommendations based on customer profiles (who they are) and behaviors (what they are doing).
- Product Content Helps Companies Listen to the “Voice of the Customer”
Successful companies strive to listen to the “voice of the customer”, and invest considerable resources to dig, discern, infer, and read between the lines about what their target market is thinking and feeling. In this light, companies should hit the un-mute button and make it easy for customers to share, comment on, and rate product content. There are four big wins here:
- SMEs rapidly respond to customers and either resolve their issue or point them in the right direction (i.e. send them a link to a workflow, video, etc.).
- Customers who have the same issue (or will have the same issue) find the answers they need without having to ask – which saves everyone time and effort.
- All customers are impressed by how responsive the company is, even if they don’t necessarily have the same questions or concerns.
- SMEs, technical writers, sales teams, and all other stakeholders use the feedback to update existing product content and build new content.
In addition, to keep prospective customers and existing customers from crowding each other out — or just confusing each other — companies should use flexible role-based authorization (including SAML 2.0 based on SSO support) to ensure that post-sales product content is accessible to specific authorized audiences. If they wish, companies can drill down further to segment audiences by product, role, industry, and so on.
- Empower Support Agents to Resolve More Issues
Research by customer strategy consulting organization thinkJar found that a whopping 67 percent of customer churn is caused by failing to resolve issues at the first engagement. As noted above, companies can close the gap by delivering product content through customer-friendly self-support options. However, some customers want to — or feel they need to — get answers by making a call or launching a chat. As such, companies should:
- Automatically notify support agents when new content is available.
- Help support agents quickly find the answers they need.
- Deliver content recommendations in real-time based on customer profiles and other data.
- Allow support agents to send content to customers in a variety of customer-friendly ways (email link, text message link, watermarked .PDF, branded microsite, etc.).
- Enable support agents to capture customer feedback and route it to internal teams (e.g. marketing, TechPubs, etc.).
In this way, great product content supports support agents as much as it does customers, and reduces customer churn as it boosts employee engagement. Once again, everyone wins.
The Bottom Line
There is no magic bullet that eliminates customer churn. What’s more, although it may be tough to convince account managers who must meet their quota, a small degree of customer churn can actually be a good thing – because, for a variety of reasons, some customers are not a good fit, and it’s in everyone’s best interest to disengage and cut their losses.
However, in the majority of situations, preventing customer churn is as mission critical as it gets. No, great product content can’t end customer churn. But yes, it can certainly make a significant difference, which is in everyone’s best interest: companies and customers alike.