Transforming the Delivery of Product Guidance for Customer Success

This article was written by Luke Penrod, Technical Writing Manager at Adobe Workfront – a Zoomin customer.

“People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

These words from the great poet and activist, Maya Angelou, remind us of the importance of empowerment, and its role in building connections with others. If you want to make a memorable impact and truly help someone, learn how to make them feel enabled and well-positioned for success.

Early last year, my team and I at Workfront, an Adobe company, decided to take a deep look at how we could best help our customers feel as empowered and successful as possible with our products. Through a mix of customer interviews and support case analyses, we sought to understand when and why customers encountered challenges using our products, how easily they adopted new features and functionality, and how they preferred to get product answers. Of all the insights we gathered, one proved particularly valuable:

The key to customer success is empowerment, and the key to empowerment is an exceptional product information & guidance experience.

We learned that our customers — more than anything — wanted to learn about our solutions on their own. When they ran into issues or had questions about how a certain feature worked, they wanted the tools to easily find the answers they needed, and carry on with the task at hand. This lined up with industry research as well, with a recent analysis by Gartner Research predicting that by 2023, more than 60% of all customer service engagements will be delivered via digital and web self-serve channels, up from 23% in 2019.

Our Approach

At Workfront, we have a team of seven writers who develop user guidance for our products. To support their editorial work, we use the popular XML authoring solution MadCap Flare.

We were maintaining thousands of individual help articles and had been using MadCap’s native Salesforce connector to publish this content as a library of Knowledge articles on our customer community.

In order to upgrade the self-service experience for our customers, we identified some essential capabilities to improve our approach:

Improved searchability: We needed to make our documentation easily searchable, so customers can quickly find the precise info they need. Though Salesforce Communities are best-in-class, their search functionality has some limitations.

Smarter, “full fidelity” navigation: We needed to let customers intuitively explore our documentation and navigate the entire collection via a dynamic table of contents, rather than force them to jump from one KB article to another to learn what they needed.

Personalization & localization: We needed to ensure that each customer was being offered only the documentation relevant to their specific software and version and in their preferred language. Through our customer community-supported logins, we were unable to filter content based on each user’s product version or other dimensions.

Faster publishing: In true DevOps fashion, our products are constantly being improved and enhanced via frequent updates. But because of how Flare’s Salesforce connector works, publishing updates to our technical content was a burdensome process and highly prone to manual error. We needed to accelerate and streamline our content publishing process, so our documentation was always delivering the most up-to-date guidance.

To achieve our goals, we used Zoomin — the creator of a SaaS-based knowledge orchestration platform available on the Salesforce AppExchange. Zoomin supports all varieties and formats of technical documentation, including MadCap Flare, and they’ve built a smart integration with Salesforce that lets us instantly publish our Flare-authored content to our community in a manner that readers could easily search, navigate, and explore.

Importantly, by adopting this new approach, our technical publications team was able to streamline our publishing process. Once authored and approved, our writers could simply publish new or updated content directly to the community, instantly, reducing our time to publish by 77%.

Empowered Customer = Success

Our goal was to enable our customers to better self-serve, and our decision to focus on improving their product information experience has proved the right one. Now that our upgraded Workfront Community has launched:

  • Customer inquiries to our contact center have reduced
  • Traffic to our community has steadily increased
  • We’ve saved 25+ hours/week in publishing time

Prioritizing customer success is a fundamental part of Workfront’s culture, and we are constantly looking for ways to keep improving. Focusing on how we delivered our product information was an essential first step for us. For those organizations looking to do the same, my advice would be:

  1. Focus on the accessibility, usability, and searchability of your product documentation. It is essential to customer success.
  2. Take a “self-service first” approach. Regardless of your industry, your customers will appreciate it.
  3. Adopt tools that streamline the publishing process, so your documentation can keep up with your product releases.

An empowered customer is almost always a happy customer. At Workfront, we learned that giving customers the guidance and answers they need in the most intuitive and “human-friendly” way would be a game-changer. It could be for your organization, too.

This article was originally published on the Salesforce AppExchange blog.

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