Level Up Your CX Game with These 4 Content Types

While content creation is something that might keep a marketer up at night, it’s rarely a top worry of customer experience experts. Sure, content is important, but does it really compete with priorities like decreasing customer wait times, improving foot traffic and flow through a physical space, or reducing customer complaints? With so many customer needs to consider, most CX experts focus on their overarching strategy and leave the demands of content creation to their marketing and sales teams. This is a mistake.

The average customer views 3 to 5 pieces of content before even contacting a sales representative, and because first impressions are driven almost entirely by design, that content–whether it be emails, ads, videos, or anything else–sets the tone for the entire experience to come. This means that the customer experience doesn’t just rely on content, it starts with content. If you’re a CX expert and content creation isn’t keeping you up at night, it might be time to rethink your priorities. If you’re serious about leveling up your CX game, here are 4 content types to add to your arsenal:

1. Let Customer Journey Mapping Be Your Guide

Most people wouldn’t plan a road trip without a map for fear of getting lost along the way. Organizations that prioritize CX rely on maps to ensure their customers don’t get lost either. Customer journey mapping provides brands with a birds-eye view of every step a person takes to make a purchase and how they can remain engaged afterwards. Done correctly, they offer CX pros a clear analysis of every customer touchpoint inclusive of the communication channels, customer actions, and emotions that run parallel to the path-to-purchase.

Journey mapping helps you evaluate the end-to-end customer experience to identify areas of improvement along the way. Maybe your journey map shows more touchpoints than necessary. Some process improvements within your organization can reduce those touchpoints, easing the overall experience for your end buyer. Or maybe you find that customers are disappearing at a pivotal moment on their journey. Analyzing this further will help you align teams and tools to resolve the issue and keep customers engaged.

Organizations that utilize customer journey maps reduce the cost of service by an average of 15-20 percent while also seeing a 10-15 percent increase in revenues. That’s a whopping 25-35 percent overall gain in net income. That kind of return more than justifies why your customer journey and empathy maps should be pieces of content that live on the desks of every employee in your organization. This will help them see the big picture, while also understanding how they can make a difference.

Make creating a customer journey map your top priority. It will help you one your vision, identify your customer-facing content needs, and unite teams around shared goals. Great journey maps are the foundation from which you build your entire CX strategy, so don’t ignore this extremely important piece of content.

2. Offer a Personalized Experience with Webinars and Virtual Events

In response to Zoom fatigue, many organizations have put a pause on webinars and other virtual presentations to avoid overwhelming their audience. But recent studies on Zoom fatigue all point to one culprit behind the exhaust we feel when on a video conference call: the camera. Since most webinars and virtual events work better when their audience is not on camera, fear of fatigue shouldn’t deter you from embracing this content strategy with confidence.

53 percent of marketers consider webinars to be the best way to generate high-quality leads, making this content type a critical touchpoint in the customer journey. In fact, virtual events were so valuable in 2021 that 80 percent of marketers plan to invest the same or more into these experiences in 2022 and beyond.

While marketers tend to look at webinars as opportunities to increase brand awareness through future-focused thought leadership, they are an amazing tool for CX as well. Beyond building confidence in your brand, virtual events can be hyper targeted to connect with different customer segments. This makes it easier to create a personalized and more immersive experience for your customers, which can build brand loyalty. Modern customers crave personalization, with 80 percent more willing to buy from a brand following an experience that seems catered to them.

In addition to delivering a targeted experience, webinars can help ease concerns at critical stages in the customer journey. Take the time to understand your customer pain points, then make on-demand webinars with solutions that are easily accessible. This will reduce friction in your buying journey by empowering your audience at times when they feel uncertain.

There is also a great opportunity to leverage the power of virtual events to allow for special interactions between your most loyal customers and key stakeholders. Get creative and see what kind of hype you can build around your brand.

3. Don’t Ignore Testimonials, make them Work for You Instead

Testimonials can be a blessing or a curse for CX pros–especially when 96 percent of consumers search for negative reviews before reading positive ones. Of course, with 86 percent of consumers unwilling to make a purchase without first reading reviews, the power of testimonials simply can’t be ignored.

Beyond using testimonials to improve the customer experience, CX pros can leverage testimonials in myriad other ways. For example, positive reviews can be republished on your company website and social channels to ensure your audience sees those reviews first. Your best reviews might benefit from some design to repurpose them into creative social media imagery, banners, or Instagram stories. Or you may choose to leverage the power of video by interviewing some of your happiest customers.

Negative reviews are never fun, but they offer more opportunities than you may think. While it may seem counterintuitive, having a few negative reviews will actually increase trust in a brand. Over half of consumers don’t trust a brand with perfect reviews because they assume the reviews were purchased. For example, one study from Northwestern University found that shoppers avoid buying products with perfect 5-star reviews. Instead, products with an average star rating of 4.2 to 4.5 see far more success.

Responding to negative reviews can be a great way to level up your CX game. 53 percent of consumers expect brands to respond to negative reviews in under a week, yet only 12 percent of negative reviews ever receive a response. This is a missed opportunity that is leaving revenue on the table. 45 percent of consumers are more likely to buy from a brand that responds to negative reviews; but a good response can also earn back a disgruntled customer. 30 percent of negative reviewers are likely to change their review to a positive one if they receive a response.

Simply put, judgment of a brand or product will be based more on how and when the brand responds to a negative review than on the contents of the negative review itself. So why not buck trends and commit to being the brand that responds to all the critics?

4. Email Campaigns Aren’t Just for Marketers

One of the best ways to deliver a great customer experience is through regular communication with a customer–ideally before, during, and after a sale. However, many CX teams wait for customers to make the first contact rather than leveraging more proactive methods. Instead of delivering a reactive customer experience, consider how email can keep your audience engaged and excited throughout their journey.

Email campaigns have long been the domain of marketers, but this doesn’t mean CX teams can’t wield this tool too. Through automation, for example, CX teams can create a series of emails to be delivered at each phase of a buyer’s journey. Is a buyer just becoming aware of your brand? Deliver an email that provides an overview of the company and a discount offer for first-time customers. Did the buyer just speak to one of your sales representatives? Ensure a follow-up email gets delivered within minutes of the completed conversation. Did a visitor to your site abandon their shopping cart? A product-specific email follow-up might encourage them to reconsider their purchase. By timing your emails to hit someone’s inbox at critical touchpoints, you will be far more likely to turn a window shopper into a customer.

Beyond automating emails to delight customers throughout their journey, great CX pros understand that audience segmentation is key. Consider each customer persona you are targeting and use email marketing tools to deliver more personalized campaigns. For example, maybe you are targeting already loyal customers. Sending that audience a bi-monthly email outlining your latest products and services will likely lead to repeat business. There’s also a lot to be gained through segmentation. While only 30 percent of marketers use audience segmentation today, those who do report as much as a 760 percent increase in revenue.

Make Content Your Priority, not at Missed Opportunity

It can be easy to ignore content as a priority when CX teams must juggle so much; but content is a critical first step in the customer journey. Marketing and sales teams may be able to identify the right content to engage your customers, but engagement is only one component of a holistic customer experience.

A great customer experience is a frictionless experience. CX teams leverage automation, science, and systems to deliver on this promise–but in the words of Bill Gates, “content is king.”

The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.

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