Using Written Content to Answer B2B Customer Service Requests
B2B sales teams and customer service representatives can be inundated with repetitive questions from current or prospective clients. Whether they're trying to determine your product's value proposition, have pricing inquiries, need help on how to use your product, or are asking about how you stack-up compared to your competition, these questions can bog down your sales team or even waste their time with unqualified leads.
We hear about how important it is to use content to address our customer's needs, audience interests, and client pain points, but there are so many ways that a brand can go about accomplishing this that it can become difficult to determine the best techniques to focus our efforts on - and can often leave us asking more questions of our own.
Is our audience going to read our long form content, skim the headlines, or just look at the pretty pictures? Are they going to find value in our content? Will it answer their questions? Would a video tutorial be better suited to address their needs? What about responding with Twitter conversations?
These questions can be intimidating and keep some teams from creating content. Why?
Creating awesome content that addresses your customer service requests is an investment, and spending on the wrong type of content could be an expensive mistake to make. Understanding exactly which content provides the most ROI for your business objectives is crucial and not always easy to accomplish.
While the trend lately has been to focus on creating visually compelling content, it's important not to forget that in-depth written content fuels search engines, drives more traffic to your web properties, and answers your customer needs when done correctly.
By answering your customer service requests with a focus on well written content, in conjunction with supporting visual content, your company can better fulfill the needs of your customers, increase your site's search engine rankings, and connect with more qualified leads.
Learn how to best use written content to accomplish both the needs of your customers and your overarching business goals to ensure that you are focusing on a strategy that leads to ROI for your company.
Identifying Customer Needs, Common Questions, and Pain Points
One of the biggest challenges when creating informative written content is understanding what you should be writing about. There's no easy way around it - to identify your customer needs, you'll need to do research.
Start by analyzing the flow of communication between your customers and your business. Document these interactions on a daily basis and keep an eye out for common themes - look at the following avenues for insight on where your should be creating written content.
Email and phone conversations between your sales team and your active leads. Start a discussion with your sales team and any other front-line employees to discover some common conversations that they have with your customers. If there's a recurring trend in questions, or even complaints, this can indicate areas that may be unclear to your audience in your advertising, website copy, or sales pitch.
Customer complaints or common questions to your service department. Complaints can indicate areas where your product needs to be improved or that your content isn't doing a good job in educating your customers on how to use your product or services.
Comments published on social networks about your brand or product. Often times customers won't directly reach out your business through email or telephone - use social listening tools such as, SocialMention, GoogleAlerts, or Mention, to get a better idea of what people are saying about your business publicly.
Third party tutorials on how to use your products. If an outside source is creating content on how people should best use your products, it could indicate an area where you should be creating more content to inform your customer needs with how-to or tutorial content. This could also mean that your product is too complicated and potentially alienating some of your potential audience.
By collecting data over several weeks or months, you can start to find trends that you can address through content. For example, if your sales team frequently hears that your product is too expensive, your current content hasn't done a good enough job at expressing the value of your product or service offerings.
In this scenario, you could craft written content to better inform your audience about how your product best fits their needs or reiterate and express your value proposition to overcome these objections - additionally, this content can serve your target market in multiple areas of your sales funnel.
1. Written content can serve to qualify and convert potential customers while they're considering a purchase of your product or services.
2. Written content can serve as a tool for your sales team to reference when they face an objection from a prospect or need more information to complete the sale.
Informing Content by Prioritizing Customer Needs
After documenting common questions and doing comprehensive audience research, you should have a stronger idea on what sort of content you should be creating; however, there are likely to be many areas that you need to cover - and this can be overwhelming.
You should start by creating content that best aligns with the needs of your business as well as your customers - this means that certain content should take precedence over others. For example, if one of your business objectives is to increase lead generation, content that can help you achieve this goal will take priority.
Start by asking questions about your proposed content to better determine which is most important to develop first.
How is this content going to help our customers and our business? Aligning your content to fill your customer needs and the needs of your business is essential when creating content strategies that generate results. Identifying how each piece of your content serves these goals before you create it can help you weed out the most important work to focus on.
How much is this content going to cost and long will it take to create? A single article addressing a customer service request could take as little as a day to create and only cost a few hundred dollars; however, if you plan a six part series to explain your latest product update, your expenses could climb considerably. This is an important element to consider when staffing and budgetary resources are limited.
What is the optimal result for publishing this content? Ask whether this content can directly relate to ROI now or if it serves for more long-term goals. Content focused around overcoming sales objections may be better suited to boost sales moving forward, whereas content that intends to educate an audience may take longer to prove ROI.
By prioritizing content that fills the needs of your customers and your business goals, you can develop a content strategy that best fits within your budget and time restrictions - which helps focus your written content moving forward.
Go Above and Beyond with Written Content
After prioritizing your most important content needs, start adding your ideas to an editorial calendar and get to work - eh, it's not that easy.
The problem again comes down to how you want your brand to be portrayed through your content, and if it's your first time addressing your customer needs with content, this can be even more of a challenge.
In order to overcome these challenges and establish the correct brand voice, take the information that you gathered by researching your customer needs and prepare a list of content ideas that you prioritized earlier. Then, present your findings to the key stakeholders within your company.
Championing content in your organization can be a daunting task, but discussing how your proposed content can benefit your company with your decision makers can help you better determine how to best tackle your content creation aspects and how you should focus your marketing tone moving forward.
When creating written content to answer your customer service requests, you should provide in-depth analysis into addressing their questions and pain points - empathize with their needs and illustrate that you are genuinely concerned with helping them, all while maintaining your previously defined brand tone.
While this is generally no easy task, identify a process that works best for your organization - consider the following tips when you begin crafting content of your own.
Create Original Content. It's okay to be influenced by other content, and even write along similar ideas, but you should never copy another brand's work. Add your expertise and personality to everything you create and look for creative angles to add value to the topics that you are covering.
Stay on Point. Fully emphasize one topic or customer need at a time. Anything that doesn't help add to explaining your point, detracts and should be removed. This helps your writing remain concise and focused. It may seem like extra work at first, but you should create an outline of the areas that you need to address in your content before you start writing - this provides direction to your efforts.
Design a Strong Title and Introduction. Whether you like it or not, readers make snap judgements about your content from your headline or within the first few sentences, and these can determine whether or not they continue reading. Create engaging titles that address your customer needs and follow-up in the introduction to create more interest throughout your piece.
Provide Solutions Early and Reinforce with Sub Headers. If the title of your content suggests a solution to a customer pain point, it had better deliver, otherwise the reader's likely to become frustrated and you may lose brand trust. For catering to broader audiences, you may need to explain basic functions to customers with less product knowledge.
Separate these sections with bold headers to accommodate readers who skim articles to find the section that relates to their needs most. These sub-headers should clearly explain the content the reader should expect below - anything that's ambiguous should be changed or removed.
Don't Force It. If you can't answer your customer needs in a detailed manner, it's better to spend more time on your content to make sure that you can. Publishing weak or unoriginal content can actually devalue your brand, which is much worse than doing nothing at all.
If you don't have the resources to create this content in-house, you may consider working with guest bloggers, copywriting freelancers, or content marketing agencies to meet your needs.
Focus on Distribution to Build Industry Influence
Writing well-researched content is only half of the battle - choosing you distribution channels and strategy is another important aspect that you should consider. After developing content for your customers, you need to make sure that you can deliver your content to them in ways that increase the likelihood of audience engagement.
To master this process, you'll have to juggle a multitude of considerations. Start by taking a look at your current distribution channels and formatting your content to appeal to each of these audiences.
Evolving Audience Expectations and Design Consideration. Whether you're publishing content on your own branded blog, on Twitter, or through other distribution channels, each audience has expectations on how your content should appear.
For example, your audience may expect in-depth articles from 1500-2000 words on your company blog, but only want to interact with images and quotes on your Twitter network. You'll need to experiment with a variety of content types to better find out how you should be representing your content on each channel.
Content Cadence. Some audiences respond best when content is published every day, for others, this is less important - developing a consistent content cadence is key to maximizing engagement without experiencing gaps in your content coverage.
Paid Advertisement Promotions: When you have the budget, experimenting with paid advertisements can extend the reach of your written content and help you better target your specific audience.
With all of these tactics to consider, it can be difficult to find the best written content strategy for your business, but by creating content that focuses on your audience needs and how your customers interact with your content after distribution, you can build stronger content messaging that aligns with your customers, marketing, and overarching business goals.
Images used with permission.
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