Whether you’re a content strategist, service designer, or work in customer experience, you need to know how content connects across your business.

Rachel McConnell
Rachel McConnell
21st October 2019

Understanding the content that finds its way to the customer, or informs how you communicate to customers, is vital to understanding the experience you’re providing across all interactions customers have with your brand.

Here’s an example matrix showing the types of internal and external content. You may not have considered how much internal content you have that informs what a customer sees or hears. The quality of your internal content can impact your customer’s experience just as much as the content they see or hear directly.

Example of content across an organisation

Improve your products

Content experts are often left out of the product development process. When product naming conventions or feature names are defined, they often stick, and unfortunately, this means something that started out as an internal name or company jargon finds its way onto the website or app and then doesn’t resonate with customers. Involving content experts in this process means you’re always thinking about how the product or feature will be perceived in its final implementation and using the language of the end-users.

Provide better customer conversations

Other areas with neglected content are internal tools and call scripts. The systems and call guides that staff use inform the conversations they have with customers. Involving content experts in the development or optimisation of tools and processes can have a hugely positive impact on the service provided. Spotting opportunities to improve scripts or content in the UI of internal tools shouldn’t be left to chance — content designers are just as valuable on your internal-facing content.

Check your feedback loop

One way to make your own content stronger is to make sure the right people see user-generated content. This could be social media comments about service, live chat conversations or customer complaints. If digital content teams never know why people are phoning up because they’re stuck onsite, or customer service teams never get to find out what customers are complaining about on Twitter, then how can they improve? Sharing the qualitative insights that sit behind the more commonly used data such as NPS scores can be much more useful and actionable than the scores themselves.

Insight teams need to be connected to content providers and regularly sharing.

Connecting your content

It’s rare that a central content team would create all the content shown in this example matrix. It’s much more likely that content creators sit in pockets of the business, such as marketing, UX teams, customer experience, brand or customer comms.

One way to better connect these teams is to think about content in terms of customer lifecycle, rather than by channel, and ensure that all the people responsible for each stage are connected, and talking to each other regularly. This way they can ensure their content and messaging is consistent.

There are techniques the teams can use together, for example, journey mapping, which will help identify all the content elements and how they hang together, and identify any opportunities for improvement.

Setting up content steering groups or holding regular content sharing sessions for all creators across the business are also both great ways to ensure alignment. But ideally, alignment should start at the top, with a joined-up strategy.

Make it strategically-driven

All content should be underpinned by a shared set of values, principles, voice, and terminology. For customers to trust a brand, they need to see or hear consistent and well-crafted content — any dip in quality or break inconsistency will erode this trust.

The best way to achieve this it to have an overarching content strategy. Not only is it key to business success, it will also give your teams direction and provide the frameworks they need to make their content creation efficient and effective.

Who should steer the ship?

To achieve connected content across an entire organisation you’ll need someone to map out the architecture, spot opportunities and highlight pain points. You’ll then need to establish guidelines, create and agree workflows, create shared lexicons, and all of the operational elements that allow teams to do their day-to-day work more effectively. This work can be done by senior content strategists, but to fully embed this across the business you’ll need sponsorship and endorsement from the top down.

Even companies with Chief Content Officers aren’t focusing enough on their internal content problems — they tend to focus on the customer-facing content as people in these roles often come from marketing backgrounds. Perhaps this will change as service design thinking gains traction.

In the meantime, content teams will rely on the advocacy of senior digital or customer experience leaders who fully understand the importance of content.

There’s also often a disconnect between traditional content (editorial and marketing) and product teams. For a business to grow its content maturity it will need to recognise that content lives on the inside and the outside of a business. And far from being invisible to customers, it’s often the back-end content that can have a detrimental effect on the experience with a brand.

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This post was originally published on Medium