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Optimize Your Content: Distribution, Display, and Search Methodology

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Miryam Brand

Miryam Brand, Suite Solutions

In our last post, we talked about the Fragmentation and Structure tracks of the Knowledge Value Maturity Model, designed to help you see where your organization “places” compared to others in the industry regarding knowledge and content utilization. This week we will be focusing on the Distribution, Display, and Search Methodology tracks.

Distribution and Displayknowledge value title

Distribution and Display

Organizational progress in the Distribution and Display tracks enables increasing benefits by further leveraging structured content.

The “Lagging” Organization

In a lagging company, users access content using monolithic PDF files on the corporate website or internal CMS. Customers are not even able to search for what they need – they are confronted with a “Documents” page on the corporate website that includes manuals for the company’s products. When customers find the manual they need they can view it on their desktop or print it out, but anyone using a mobile device is out of luck.

The “Performing” Level

Fortunately, few companies today are in this situation. Most organizations recognize that content needs to be available for mobile devices such as tablets and smartphones and they have content available in a mobile-friendly format. Those organizations that have structured, topic-based content allow customers to access this content through their websites.

However, while this “performing” level of content distribution and display keeps customers relatively satisfied, it misses the tremendous opportunity enabled by the combination of intelligent content and dynamic online and mobile access.

The “World-Class” Level: Leveraging distribution and display for customer satisfaction and sales

A world-class organization allows customers to put together their own “manual” based on the topics they are interested in. This manual can be downloaded to their mobile device, and any updates to this content within the organization can by pushed to the customer’s mobile device. Deals based on features or products that customers are interested in (based on their personalized manuals) can be sent dynamically to these customers. As studies have shown, customers who have already expressed interest in a certain product or feature do not find it intrusive when they are offered deals based on their previous interest.

Remember our customer Maria from the last post? If Maria has been looking at documentation topics related to a new upgrade for Widget 3.1, she considers it a service if the Acme Widgets site displays contextual information for her regarding the new features included in Widget 4.0 and notifies her of a special price for the upgrade. By pushing relevant content, Acme Widgets has increased customer satisfaction and made a sale.

Search Methodologyknowledge value title

Key to keeping content accessible for customers and employees alike, of course, is the search methodology that is used. This, too, depends to a certain extent on how structured the corporate content is. Free-text and keyword search on corporate content sites and knowledge bases have become increasingly common, but can result in hundreds or even thousands of results for the average customer. Customers are likely to give up and call support. However, if content is structured and its structure includes well-thought-out taxonomy and classification, customers can be guided to the result they need. The best way to do this is through role-based and faceted search.

Our customer Maria is a good example. Maria is a known customer of Acme Widgets, so Acme’s system already knows that she uses Widget 3.1 and works in the engineering department of her company. It automatically shows her documentation for Widget 3.1 that is relevant to technically proficient customers. Moreover, it allows her to choose the “facets” of the product she is interested in – which platform she is using currently, for example – to narrow her search. An optimal faceted search will show Maria how many topics are relevant to each facet before she chooses it. (The number of results can be shown in parentheses next to each choice.) This avoids the dreaded “empty search results.” An empty search causes negative feelings for the searcher, however illogical this may seem. The Acme Widgets portal shows Maria content that is relevant to her role while allowing her to further filter her search easily. Maria can find exactly the content she needs when she needs it. Maria is a happier customer, and she doesn’t need to call support when the answers she needs are so readily available.

The benefits of optimized distribution, display, and search methodology are

  1. An increase in customer satisfaction
  2. Increased sale, both cross-sell and up-sell

Studies have shown that the less effort customers need to expend to find information on your site, the more likely they are to purchase, and the more they are willing to spend when they do.

The tracks we will discuss in our next post further engage the customer, increasing both satisfaction and sales: Community, Content Contribution, Analytics and Monetization.

Comments? Questions? Let me know in the comment box below!

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