We see a lot written about how content can improve SEO, is key for successful social campaigns etc. But I haven't seen as much on how content can actually save your company money - and it definitely can.
Customer service teams are an expensive necessity for most businesses, but content can help you cut back on the amount of customer service queries, and thus cut back on the costs of those teams.
Often the reason a customer will contact customer service (whether via phone, email social media or live chat) is because they've already tried to find the answer to their question themselves, and were unable to. We can solve this though, and in doing so, cut down on the customer queries that actually need to be answered by a human.
Step 1 - Finding the questions
The first thing you need to do for this is to understand what questions your current and potential customers have.
One of the most relevant places to find the questions your customers have is by looking at what they search for on your own website.
For this you'll need to have site search enabled within Google Analytics (GA) - to check if you have this navigate to Behavior > Site Search > Overview within GA and this will show you if it's set up. If you're not sure how to set this up then refer to this Google guide.
Once you have this all set up you need to export the report, and then filter for questions. The most basic way to do this is to filter the queries for words that indicate a question, such as:
If you're a more advanced GA user, you can use regex to filter of course.
Make sure you change the date range to provide you with a decent enough amount of data (perhaps previous 12 months), as the default range will be much lower.
Customers won't only ask questions about your company/product/service on your own website though, they'll use other sites such as Google (predominantly) and forums, or sites like Quora. It's important to capture these too, as often this is where they will turn if they haven't found the answer on your own site.
Again, there's a number of tools we can use to capture these:
Google Search Console
Hopefully, you already have Google Search Console (previous 'Google Webmaster Tools') set up for your site. Within there, you can see queries that people are searching for whereby your website shows up, and you can also see whether they actually clicked on your site.
Google's currently transitioning to a new version, so if you're on the old one, you want to go Search Traffic > Search Analytics and you should see the queries.
In the new version, you click 'Performance' and it should come up. It should look like this:
Again, you want to download this report and then filter for the questions. As with GA, you'll want to change the date range to capture the most queries.
Another useful tool to find questions people are searching for is Answerthepublic. This app enables you to enter your brand term/s and it will pull back all the questions people search for around that.
For example if I worked at Microsoft and wanted to see the questions people asked I would get this:
If you have separate products, which are often referred to in their own right, then you'll also want to conduct a search for each of these (for example with Microsoft we'd also look at terms like 'Xbox' and 'Surface Pro').
Again, download the data, but this time it will already be filtered by questions for you.
Buzzsumo added a Question Analyzer feature to their tool this year. You can use this in the same way as Answerthepublic, entering brand and products terms and exporting the data.
Customer service staff
Finally, one of the best ways to find the most common questions is simply by asking your own customer service staff.
Ask them what the most common questions are, which they think can potentially be answered using content. Make a list of all the questions they give you and add this to all your other data.
Step 2 - audit answers
Now that you have the list of questions that your potential customers have, it's time to check whether the answers already exist - and crucially, whether the answers are easily found.
Enter the question into both Google and your own site search and see what comes up. Are the results you're seeing it helpful? Are they the right answers?
If they are, then you can tick that question off and move onto the next.
If they're not - or nothing comes up at all - you'll need to do one of two things:
- Create some brand new content to answer that question
- Repurpose your existing content to address that question clearly
Your new content doesn't have to necessarily be extensive, it may simply be a case of adding to your existing FAQ page to ensure all relevant queries are covered.
Note - you may have a very long list at this stage so it's best to prioritize working through this. My order would reflect how far down the funnel a customer is, so:
- Customer service staff
- On-site questions
- Google Search Console
Step 3 - monitoring
Once you've published your new and/or repurposed content, you need to make sure it's being found in relation to relevant queries. Repeat the searches either on your own site or Google and ensure that the answer/s you've created are coming up.
Also check in with your customer service teams to find out whether they're still getting asked the same volume of those questions.Over time, ideally, you'll see a decline in the same requests.
Optional additional step
If you still want your customers to feel like they're talking to someone when they ask a question, you could also consider using your content to create a chatbot for your site.
Microsoft has a basic bot builder tool which enables you to feed in your FAQs and editorial content to create your own Q&A chatbot for your site.
This article might sound like I'm advocating getting rid of customer service teams, but this is definitely not the case. Rather, what I'm proposing should cut down on the amount of staff needed (therefore reducing cost) and allow remaining reps to spend more time on the customers they do speak to, which should lead to higher rates of retention and advocacy as they have a much better experience.