Gerry McGovern: Key Principles for Creating Useful Self-Service Content

Gerry McGovern, founder and CEO at Customer Carewords, shares how to take better care of customers through the self-service content you provide.

The Age of the Customer

  • In recent times, there’s been a collapse in trust…along with a rise in expectations
  • Very little trust in organizations — power has shifted to customers
  • Need to develop things for customers
  • Web = essence of self-service
  • Need to have empathy for customers and what they need to do
  • Companies are going out of business faster than ever
    • Avg. lifespan of a company in 1930: 60 years
    • Today: 20 years
      • Takeaway: If you don’t put customer first, your biz won’t exist much longer
  • Cardinal rule for an organization: “I am not the customer”

The Culture of Volume

  • Old world: culture of volume
    • Obsession with production and making more and more content
    • Misguided reasoning
      • If we make more content, we will be more successful!
      • Opposite is true
  • New world: outcome focused
    • Start testing things
    • Identify the “old, smelly content” and do something about it
    • It’s a driver of value to give people the right content, quickly
    • Web teams should manage consumption, not production

Case in Point: Columbia College of Chicago website

  • 36,000 pages reduced to 944 pages
  • Got rid of content and doubled the amount of inquiries from prospective students

Case in Point: Norwegian Cancer Society

  • Did task analysis and switched from biz focus to customer focus
  • 5,000 to 1,000 pages (80% decrease)
  • Results
    • 70% increase in one-time donations
    • 88% in monthly donors registered
    • 164% increase in members registered
    • 384% increase in incoming links
    • 80% increase in visitors

Self-Service (and Other) Stats

  • By 2020, the customer will manage 85% of its relationship with an enterprise without interacting with a human (h/t: Gartner)
  • 33% of millenials would prefer to clean a toilet, 23% would prefer to do physical labor than call customer service
  • 1 million B2B salespeople in the US will lose their jobs to self-service ecommerce by 2010 (h/t: Forrester)
  • Only 51% success rate using self-service on technology websites (h/t: Technoogy Services Industry Association)
  • Online advertising spend going up; CTRs have crashed
  • Odds of being hit by lightning: 0.03%; odds of clicking on a banner ad: 0.04%
  • Technology is not a bridge; it’s turning into a barrier
  • Executive distrust of B2B vendor websites
    • Online content influences decision making: 88%
    • Trust vendor websites: 9%
      • We’re creating content that people don’t trust
  • What’s the main reason a piece of content didn’t succeed in making a positive impression? 71% say it seemed like a sales pitch 
  • Marketers: look at us
    • 93% connect their content directly to a product or service

Behavioral Studies

  • Observe how people do things
  • Only need 15-20 people to get reliable stats
  • Measure the success of the most important things your customers are trying to do on your website
  • Always be testing

The Real Need: A Task Strategy

  • We shouldn’t have a mobile strategy or an experience strategy
  • We should have a task strategy
    • Test for the tasks users actually want to do
    • If customers can do what they need to do, we all win
  • More blog posts, auto-complete search, feature dumping — not what people want
    • They want the right answers for their questions
    • We need to focus on helping people succeed
  • Don’t listen to customers
    • Observe behaviors
    • Don’t just go on gut instincts

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