When push came to shove for the digital shift, is when life turned into lockdown. Coronavirus has moved the world online faster than any marketing campaign could ever have done. From weddings to medical appointments and contact centres, some of our most primary interactions have gone virtual. And whilst wedding vows on Zoom might not catch on, for many businesses, this shift is not only working, but knocking old methods out the park.
Let’s forget for a moment that we’re in a global pandemic. In 2020, it was never going to be a surprise that time-saving methods could get popular. It was implementing them into customer behaviour which was always the problem. We live in a world of hyper-connectivity, instant availability, and inconceivable productivity. Everyone is time-poor. So it’s also no wonder that no one had time to stop and learn how to save time by doing things digitally until now. The brutal reality is, it took a new-age virus which gave us no choice but to swot up. Covid-19 has accelerated the digital shift on an exponential level.
Whilst living life online has felt like a dystopian Netflix series for most people’s personal lives, it has revolutionised our use of time practically and professionally. As customers, an ability to self-serve has become a vital part of our daily vocabulary. People have had to learn to order prescriptions online, when previously they didn’t know their doctor had a website. Booking supermarket deliveries has become an Olympic sport for the digitally adept. And as a business, our online functionalities are no longer forward-thinking bonuses, but basic requirements to continue operating.
But this realisation shouldn’t feel like an overwhelming task. Turning digital isn’t another thing on our to-do lists here. We’ve all had enough on our plates to run BAU during Covid – and this likely means we’ve already done the leg-work. Our businesses already have an online presence. Now, it’s a case of refining our digital content so it’s the best it can be. That’s the long-game and in many ways, it’s something off our plate. Half the stress of shifting digital is nudging our customers that way. We’ve been singing digital praises to deaf ears for years. But digital platforms are no longer wares to sell, they’re spaces full of willing-audiences, shaped like our customers.
The one thing that is worth stressing about: if we don’t make our digital content damn-good, customers will just bounce back and give us a ring. Right now we don’t only not want this, we likely can’t handle it in our isolated set-ups. The average speed of answers in contact centres has increased by up to 150% during coronavirus, and abandonment is high as 60% (Contact Babel). This is tough on both agent and caller. We can avoid this and ensure old customer calling habits die easy, by optimising online content.
So what’s best practice for developing content digitally?
1) Take our digital journeys for a test drive
A great way to see if our digital content is working is to try it for size ourselves. If we follow the digital journeys our customers take, we can ask;
Are they intuitive to find in the first place?
Do they make sense once we’re there?
Is our wording robot proof but human friendly?
Do things like links take us where they should? Do the forms let us fill them in?
If the answer is no to any of these questions, that’s where we start work.
2) Can we say it shorter?
A phone screen is a much smaller space than a conversation, so we can’t expect to fit the same amount of words in one. A big part of digital transformation is condensing content to fit the device our customers are using. The chances are, this will be a pocket-sized smartphone. Before coronavirus, mobile accounted for over half the globe’s website traffic, and had done so for some years. This trend is only going one way. If our customers are astute pilots of their phones, this is where our digital content should be designed to fly.
3) Stock content with solutions
Customers often call us with problems, often these are common problems…and FAQs are one of the easiest things to put online. Let’s also ask:
Are ours online?
Are they easy to find?
Do they give our customers the tools to solve their problems online too?
If our FAQ sections are looking a little out-dated and stodgy, now is the time to streamline them into problem-solving athletes.
Whether it’s a website, online portal or chat window, digital platforms are often visual first and foremost. Let’s do ourselves a favour and make them look good. This doesn’t mean expensive or gimmicky makeovers. Strong design can be as simple as a new paragraph, bullet point, subtitle or basic spacing. Good layout and formatting often isn’t fancy.
5) Don’t mistake social media for a one trick pony
Traditionally a space for marketing, social media has quickly become a place to share important information in the Covid crisis. There’s no harm in flagging our digital content using our socials – whether it’s how to find an online form or create an account. It’s not boring information when it’s useful.
6) Top of page and front Loading
We’re all skimming devils when it comes to reading anything online. The guarantee of someone’s focus is much harder to win than in a human conversation. Which means we should put the important stuff at the top of the page, or at the front of the sentence. Otherwise we risk creating content that won’t be consumed, even if our customers know exactly where to find it.
7) Look at the Data
Most digital platforms offer easy access data and analytics about how our customers use them. This is a holy grail for optimising our digital content. It allows us to see where people drop out of journeys, what gets clicked on, what doesn’t, and to signpost things better so the right people see the right stuff.
Making sure the bare bones of what we’re saying is accurate is the most important aspect of constructing digital content. Online information should relay the same message as our agents would on the phone – if it doesn’t people won’t trust it. On Live Chat, for instance, canned responses can help both save agent time, and relay consistent messages to the same questions. If chat became an informal space where unaudited content gets copied and pasted, it would lose its credibility with customers.
We’ve talked about customers being wary of shifting to digital because they can’t afford the time to save time. As contact centres, we’re guilty of this too. It’s easy to worry that digital transformation means some expensive faff and investment in new technology. That’s not the case at all. Most likely, nailing our digital presence is a case of optimising content we already have. But whilst that doesn’t have to involve pricey new kit, we understand it does still demand time. We’d love to spend ours on your content – in a world where digital is now more of a lifeline than a luxury – you can just drop us a line right here.