Missing Manuals: The Content Gap in Customer Service
If good customer support is crucial to pleasing and retaining customers, then why do so many companies fail at it? And why are so many companies missing the content they need to support their customers?
Once upon a time, all complicated products came with manuals. This practice has largely disappeared, especially in consumer tech. (The Missing Manual folks have capitalized on this by writing unofficial manuals for all kinds of tech products.)
The manual’s decline is understandable. Today’s products are meant to be intuitive. You only need help when something doesn’t work as expected. But that happens a lot, and when it does, the nightmare begins.
Many companies will do anything to keep their customers from calling a phone support line. They’d rather send them down a rabbit hole, randomly searching “support” forums hosted by the company and third parties. They encounter a mix of (mostly) user-generated and (occasionally) employee-generated content.
What do these customers find? They find other angry and frustrated customers. They find a lot of wrong or irrelevant answers that waste their time and deepen that frustration. They find everything, that is, but the answers they need.
I subscribe to a music service called Rhapsody. When I had a serious problem recently, Rhapsody pointed me to a popular “community-powered support” service called GetSatisfaction. After posting my question, GetSatisfaction pointed me to a bunch of social sharing buttons and urged me to “help get this topic noticed by sharing it on Twitter, Facebook or email.”
What an insulting idea. I have paid Rhapsody $15 a month for several years. You figure that would be enough for get my question “noticed” by Rhapsody itself. Instead, they want me to bother my friends, family and followers with a technical question they wouldn’t possibly know the answer to.
“Community-powered” user support is social media gone mad. Customer feedback can help a company identify the biggest problems customers face. But then it’s the company’s job—and not my Aunt Mildred’s—to solve them. And then it’s the company’s job to match the customer to the answer. I mean the right answer, not the most popular one.
A clear, definitive and easy-to-find answer is a powerful thing. The customer gets satisfaction immediately—he doesn’t have to wait 30 minutes on hold for a customer agent, or two days for an answer via email. The company gets the chance to fend off a thousand expensive customer service calls and a thousand customer rants on “support” forums.
You’d figure it would be worth the company’s time to create some good content to support their products. Is there an opportunity for your brand to step up to the plate and provide that content for customers, prospects and the “missing manual” generation?
Richard Sine writes about business, personal finance and health for magazines and content marketers. He writes regularly for Men’s Health magazine and for brands such as Fidelity Investments, UPS and Children's Healthcare of Atlanta.