Try going to a store or lurk in online communities and observe how people behave. Instead of talking to a salesperson, they’re on their phones reading product reviews. Instead of calling customer support, they’re on Google searching for (help) solutions to a problem they’re attempting to solve on their own.
Technology can be a barrier between you and your customers. It can depersonalize your brand. But at the same time, given the right approach, it can strengthen your connection and enable you to build long-lasting relationships with your customers—that is where your product documentation comes in.
Think of your customers’ goals
With the rise of customers that are not only knowledgeable and tech-savvy but also socially-conscious and independent, the detached and numbers-driven way of marketing and advertising products and services may no longer work. In today’s age of many options and engagement, customers look for more.
In fact, a recent study by Wuderman found that 79% of customers said brands must show that they understand and care about them before they consider purchasing. Moreover, 56% said that they feel more loyal to brands that demonstrate a deep understanding of their wants and needs. And of course, it all boils down to convenience with 62% considering the best brands are those that make their lives easier.
What’s at stake if you don’t shift focus to your customers’ goals is their trust and loyalty (and obviously your profits). An Accenture study revealed that when customers are unhappy, they’re quicker to act with 50% immediately doing business with a different brand after a bad sales/marketing experience. Also, 43% switched brands because they lost trust, while 38% said their brand loyalty is driven by trust.
Create customer-based product documentation
To attract and retain customers, it is important to offer them real value which product documentation has. The tendency of customers is, if you give them what they need, help them solve a problem, or enable them to achieve their goals, it’s likely that they will feel happy, satisfied, and more connected to your brand. And if they do, they will be open to sharing their experience to more people.
Your product documentation is your bridge to your customers because it showcases not only your products and services, but also the potential benefits your customers will get. When you revolve your product documentation around your customers, it will be easier for them to access, understand, and share it. To assess whether your product documentation is customer-based, ask these questions:
- Is it searchable? Can customers run through your content with ease?
- Is it accessible? Can customers find your content on Google when they use either their desktop, mobile, or tablet?
- Is it shareable? Can customers send your content to friends or colleagues who may be needing the same answer or solution to a problem?
- Is it convenient? Can customers filter and preview search results?
- Is it updated? Can customers get the latest content?
- Is it dynamic? Can customers leave feedback (comments, tables, or images) in case they suggest other solutions or don’t find what they’re looking for?
- Is it personalized? Can customers see content that may be relevant to what they’re looking for?
- Is it high-quality? Can customers read comprehensive and credible content that makes their lives easier one way or another?
It may be more than 15 years ago, but what former Vanguard CEO Jack Brennan said still rings true today: “Trust is our number one asset at Vanguard. We recognize you can’t buy trust with advertising or salesmanship; you have to earn it—by always acting in the best interests of customers.” Referring to their website but is also applicable to product documentation, “We didn’t design our Web site to sell more products and services. We designed it to educate our customers and provide better and more timely information and advice so they can make better decisions.”
In the end, customer-based product documentation that increases brand trust and loyalty are created from the perspective of, yes, your customers. Regardless of the circumstance, channel used, or manner of access, it must consistently deliver what they need, help them save time and solve an issue, or put them a step closer to achieving their goals. When customers feel valued, they know. So strive to make your product documentation as customer-focused as it can. Remember: Happy customers, happy bottom line.