Article | 3 min read

3 ways to improve your customer service content

By Sally Bagshaw

Last updated August 19, 2015

Content is at the heart of the customer experience. Whether it’s a support article, a blog post, or a feedback form—content is how brands communicate with their customers. Great content answers people’s questions, converts new customers, and builds trust with existing ones. Not so great content is confusing, frustrating, and could mean your customers give you the wrong information.

Thankfully, there is an easy way to make sure your content is serving customers. Get this right and your content will be off to a great start. All you have to do is show empathy in your writing.

More often than not, if someone is using your customer service content they are not having a good day. There’s an issue, they have a question, or something has gone wrong.

Being empathetic puts you in your customer’s shoes. We consider what they are going through and how they might feel in a certain situation. We think about how they are using our content and under what circumstances—and we craft our words around their experience. Here are three steps to help you be empathetic while creating content.

1. Write with respect
Regardless if the customer is in the right or wrong, show respect in the language you use. Don’t choose words that sound judgemental or sound as though you blame the customer for what’s happened.

Also, only ask for the information you need. Do you really have to know your customer’s date of birth, their mother’s maiden name, and their physical location? If you’re a bank, then sure, it makes sense. If not, think about how you’d feel if a company held so much personal data about you. Would you be happy to hand it over? Be very clear how information will be used and how you will protect their privacy.

2. Use the right tone
Does your brand have a cheeky personality? If you are dealing with a serious or sensitive issue, it might not be the best time to let it shine through. Test tone by role playing scenarios with someone in your team who is pretending to be the customer. Does the language sound wrong or inappropriate when it is read out loud? Adjust the words to reflect what would be said in a caring conversation.

Tip: Check out Mailchimp’s voice and tone site for some excellent examples of how to choose tone depending on content type.

3. Keep it simple
People who are stressed find it hard to concentrate and this is amplified if they have suffered a traumatic event. So, for instance, if someone is using your content to figure out how to make an insurance claim for a car accident, keep the information and instructions simple. Use plain language and familiar terms so they feel confident that they’ve found the right answer. Make it easy for customers to understand where they should look by structuring content in a logical order that flows well. Group similar topics and questions together and write them in a consistent way.

Ready to start?
These tips might seem obvious, after all who would deliberately write words that are confusing, insensitive, or uncaring? But sometimes it happens unintentionally. Take a closer look at what content you have that could be improved with empathetic writing. It might be a request for information letter that’s not clear on why you need the information, a sign-up form that doesn’t do a great job explaining the terms and conditions, or a support page that’s full of technical jargon your customer won’t understand.

By putting yourself in your customer’s shoes it will become easy to create content that helpful, actionable, usable and—most importantly—improves your customers’ experiences.

Today’s guest post was written by Sally Bagshaw, an Australian content strategist who thinks we all can improve our customer service content. A word-nerd at heart, she works with people who have a lot of content to sort out. Read more of her musings on content strategy on her website, Web Content Strategy.