Within the last five years, consumers have become skilled product and service researchers, consulting the internet for information and advice on everything from computers and cars, to software and services. A recent study from Fleishman-Hillard found that 89% of consumers go directly to business websites or turn to Google, Bing or another search engine to find information on products, services or businesses before any human to human interaction takes place (if it ever does).
B2Bs are not exempt from the online scrutiny of pre-purchase research. Brafton reports that more than 70% of enterprise purchase decisions begin on search engines.
Delivering current, consistent and customer-focused content on your website has never been more vital. Here are three ways organizations are using content to successfully serve customers:
1. Customer Acquisition: Self-serve content isn’t just for current customers. It’s for potential customers, too.
- In 2010, consumers took in 5.3 pieces of content before making a purchasing decision. In 2011, 10.4 pieces of content were viewed before a purchase decision was made.
- A Cone report suggests that consumers are 50% more likely to read blogs and articles for product research that they were just two years ago.
- Nearly 60% of consumers now research products via the mobile web.
Consumers researching products and services don’t want to fill out contact forms or wait for information to be emailed anymore. Companies must un-gate and provide self-serve product and service information to compete – especially in the search engines. Advances in search-based applications to personalize information to each user, along with Google’s ongoing initiatives to reward sites that issue consistent, quality content are taking content marketing, blogging and knowledgebase use and development to a whole new level.
2. Customer Retention: The days when customer service could be accessed only from 9am to 5pm are now officially over. Via the web and social media, customers now expect service via at least one channel on a 24/7 basis. When the TV screen goes black midway through David Letterman, customers Google to find the fix or go to the company’s website to download the product manual instead of waiting until the next day to make a call to the manufacturer.
- According to a 2012 Coleman Parkes survey, 40% of customers contact a call center after they can’t find answers to their question via self-service.
- Up to 50% of “How do I …?” calls could be deflected to self-care channels if information was provided online or through a knowledgebase.
- 75% of surveyed consumers said they would prefer to use online support if it were reliable and provided accurate and complete information.
Making current, consistent content available on your website – and proactively distributing it across multiple channels (think YouTube how-to videos, your company’s blog, or weekly Facebook tips of the week) – keeps customers happy, satisfied and loyal to your brand.
3. Service Agent Training and Quick-Answer Access: Knowledgebases are useful to more than just the customer. A current, well-maintained knowledgebase provides a convenient online training manual for new service and support agents. For current agents (as well anyone in the company for that matter) it provides quick and consistent answers to customer questions whenever they arise.
Not content with your current customer content? Click here to read 10 Tips to Save Your Knowledgebase from Sheer Boredom.