Content mapping can help provide structure and direction to the paid, owned, earned, CRM and other marketing teams that’s often missing at the beginning of a project. Content maps can help provide the collaboration and integration points desperately needed internally that drive a more unified voice and experience to delight our customers.
Customer-centric stories, engagement, and even design should start with questions. Yet we often go straight to strategizing, writing, and creating.
Here are six people you need to interview before you create a content map which generates the stories that engage your personas in their customer journey.
No one in your organization is more attuned to your customers needs, desires, and problems than your customer service department. Interview a customer service lead or manager and ask questions about top-level problems and needs:
- “What are the top 5 or 10 questions you get asked every day?” This will depend in part on the complexity of your offering.
- “What are the top 5 things we do as a brand that gets us the most compliments from our customers?”
Interview someone in the call center. Create a set of questions relevant to customer delight and how they might impact the goal of customer joy:
- “What would you change about the company if you were CEO for a day?”
- “What’s your biggest frustration when dealing with customer issues?”
It’s good to get two perspectives from the sales team: one from someone who manages the team and one from someone who handles sales directly. For B2B this is enormously important; it’s estimated that more than 60 percent of the decision to buy is made before a customer ever reaches out to the sales organization. Having great answers to customer questions and problems before the sales contact is made is a big impetus for creating a content map.
Community managers and social media teams are, ultimately, salespeople. They’re the voice of the brand. Intel does a remarkable job of allowing its social media team and all employees to engage with customers to understand their biggest problems. Ask them:
- “What are 5 questions your potential customers ask most often?”
- “What resource do you wish the marketing team would create to help you train your salespeople?”
Study the competition, learn about their strengths and weaknesses. You could even go so far as to find a past employee and get a better understanding of the competition’s biggest advantage and biggest pain point. Ask the questions:
- “What does our competition do better than we do?”
- “Where is our competition weak?”
- “Why do we lose customers to our competition?”
This is the really fun part. Get on the phone with your best customers and let them create the content potential customers need. Ask customers:
- “Tell me about a time you used our product/service and how that helped you.”
- “Why did you choose us?”
- “As a customer, what’s one thing we could do for you that we don’t currently do?”
Reviews on Google, Yelp, Bizrate, and other services are becoming a very important part of a brand’s story online. When companies ask how to get rid of bad reviews, the smartest answer is always, “quit doing the thing that incites the bad reviews.”
Short of being perfect, though, we can often disarm a dissatisfied customer by understanding and helping resolve the problem publicly. Sure, it’s natural for bad reviews to be mixed in with the good, even with an exceptionally customer-centric organization. The goal is to see the bad review as an opportunity rather than a challenge to overcome.
Choose critics from both review sites and customer service and ask them:
- “What could we have done better to help solve your problem?”
Just owning that there is a problem can be enormously disarming. It’s hard to be angry when your frustration is met with patience and a true desire to make things right.
Critics reviews, whether shared online or with your customer service department, are an enormous content opportunity to better understand the customer journey and impact it positively. Ignoring critics during the content mapping process means you’re only seeing part of the picture.
Leveraging analytics to improve the customer journey requires we don’t just share data, but that we share the stories the data creates. We can easily become overwhelmed because there’s so much data and so much you can potentially do.
In the face of having the data to learn everything, we often fear it’s a failure to just learn something. There are rarely absolutes.
Asked to choose four customer frustrations in the sales funnel, four different analysts will likely have different answers. That’s OK. Just ask your business intelligence teams to share their methodologies, show their thinking, and reveal their findings.
We often come to analysts with huge expectations and little guidance, leaving them to scramble to share a dashboard with a lot of data but no good stories or actionable insights. Great marketers know that consistent improvement over time beats paralysis by analysis every time.
Set out to learn and improve something. Rather than asking for just the data, ask for the takeaways. Ask your analysts:
- “If you could fix two or three problems in the funnel, what would you fix?”
- “If you could test two or three things to improve customer experience, what would you test?”
- “If you could spend more money in a particular channel, what channel would you choose?”
When you prepare your content map questions, know that you’ll be most successful when you take the approach of “what’s in it for them?” rather than “what’s in it for me?” If our goal is to spend time discovering what’s best for our customers and how to delight them, doesn’t it make sense to delight your teams as well?
- Share with the sales team that the content map you’re developing for the customer journey will provide them with resources to share with potential customers.
- Share with your customers how valuable they are as brand advocates and how their answers will help you provide them a better product/service.
- Share with your customer service department how important they are to the customer lifecycle and brand success.
- Even share with your critics how their honest appraisal of your weaknesses helps you provide a better experience and maybe even win them back.
As you’re gathering information, log questions and answers into a spreadsheet. Patterns will begin to emerge that help us define the stories we need to share during the customer journey.
You don’t have to use these 16 questions. It’s just important to ask leading questions that get you to real, honest answers. Once you’ve completed this exercise, you’ll have informed feedback to begin your content mapping exercise from the people who matter the most.
Let your next campaign or marketing project begin, not with content development, not with channel selection, not with a paid campaign, but with listening. It could be your simplest and smartest strategy yet.