Sally Bagshaw: Beyond the web – Customer service center content strategy

Sally Bagshaw explores why businesses and organizations should fold customer service into content strategy and how to do it.

  • 51% of US consumers switched service providers in the past year due to poor customer service experiences
  • Top customer content frustrations: making it to hard to find/understand info or take action!
    • Self-help sites and systems that can’t answer my questions
    • Too much paperwork or online forms
    • Not being able to understand the info provided to me
  • There’s been too much focus on the funnel
  • We don’t reward existing customers enough
    • Need to instill confidence, earn their trust, help them get stuff done

Why We Should Pay More Attention to Customers

  • Contact with the customer
  • Everything is measured
    • Call centers, help desks — track all sorts of data
  • Better for the bottom line
    • If customers are leaving, this costs the biz in the long run
    • $6 trillion a year globally lost because of people switching from service provider to service provider

Types of Customer Service Center Content

  • Product guides
  • Social media
  •  Forms
  • Web content
  • Intranet content
  • Knowledge bases
  • Instant chat
  • Email and letters
  • Scripts (lots of service centers moving away from this; too unnatural)

Silo Syndrome

  • Customer service often gets forgotten when it comes to strategy
  • Web content =/= customer service content
  • Content disparity = bad experience!

How to Solve the Problem

  • Improve the experience for both the customer and the operator

Create Content with Empathy

  • Use the appropriate tone
  • Respect privacy and personal info
  • Use clear, familiar language

Optimize for the Operator

  • Consider how the operator uses/accesses content and build that into strategy
    •  Efficiency key
  • Improve  internal search
  • Tag content properly
    • Are tags in the language of the customer or internal lang.? are you making people learn 2 ways to reference things? why?
  • Use logical file names and URLs

Design Better Forms

  • Only ask for what you need
  • Make instructions clear
  • Group questions logically
  • Focus on good flow

Think about Format and Structure

  • Know how content will be used
    • Will it be read on the phone? Then test it by reading aloud, see if you run out of breath, etc.
  • Include heading and subheadings
  • Design for scanning

Plan the Right Workflow

  • Include content in workflows
  • Capture feedback and updates
  • Create a maintenance plan
    • How are you going to keep quality high?
    • How will things be updated?
    • Is this plan sustainable? Do they have the time/people/resources to keep it up?

Case Study: Legal Aid Queensland


  • 16K client service officers
  • Access legal info pages (web pages)


  • Legal terms vs. client terms
  • Pages would be read out loud
  • Vulnerable clients should seek legal advice


  • Call center visit
  • Interviews, analytics
  • Content inventory and qualitative audit
  • New digital style guide
    • Bite-snack-meal model (h/t Ginny Reddish)
      • Bite: lets people know they’re on the right page
      • Snack: succinct summary
      • Meal: more detailed info, inverted pyramid

Case Study: Sunsuper


  • Superannuation funds
  • 86 staff
  • 10k calls a week
  • 1.1 million member statement/s year
  • 2.1 million email marketing per year
  • 2 million posted letters (welcome emails, follow-ups, etc.)
  • 500 templates
  • 75 customer service email templates


  • Superannuation is complex and heavily regulated
  • People care about different things at different life stages
  • Wanted to encourage people to use Member Online


  • Existing template review against web content
  • New template that structured emails consistently
    • Consistent structure
    • Element/writing tips/example
  • Tone of voice guidelines and standard calls to action

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