It’s better than asking customers what they want
A company manufacturing a product believes they’ve taken largely care of major issues before it reaches customers. It’s just the first step. If the product is a soap or shampoo, there is little chance it will be ‘wrongly’ used. But everything else, from software to a mixer grinder, the complexities increase because people don’t know enough.
Let’s take an example of a washing machine – it’s made to be easy to operate, but customers don’t know if they’re using the optimal cycle for washing clothes. As long as the machine runs and clothes seem to be well-washed, nobody pays attention beyond a point.
But there are little things that affect performance – like the stuff people leave in pockets. Tissues end up creating a sticky, hard to remove mess on all clothes. How hard would it be to remind people through an audio message to check pockets before starting the wash cycle?
This affects product efficiency because those soggy pieces of tissue may ultimately get lodged deep within the machine when water drains out. And it is in the company’s interest to ensure that this can be prevented as much as possible.
Keep the dialog going
Support departments are where companies discover extreme cases of product failure or dissatisfaction. Customers call or write in and expect a solution. If they used the product wrong, they are unlikely to admit it. Simply because they don’t want to be seen as making stupid mistakes.
The way out of this is to ask people exactly what happened and ask them to walk through the incident. Most support departments aren’t set up to have conversations with customers. But assumptions can be made about what customers did and that becomes a topic to create content around.
Actual use of the product informs companies of the problems customers face. And it’s the perfect way to set up a dialogue. Use support cases to talk to customers through blog posts and emails. Creating content around how problems can be solved, generates more interest than repetition of feature lists and ‘benefits’ – and HubSpot CMS can help you create, publish and distribute content with the least friction
In the company environment, the factory managers and the research team have the best understanding of how the product functions and where it fails. But they cannot simulate every instance of usage – that has to come from customers who do it on their own.
Use support cases for inspiration
Instead of labelling what customers do as ‘crazy’ or ‘stupid’, understand what led them to the behaviour. If several support calls are bunched around the same issue, investigate what is causing the problem. It could be a UX issue that misdirects customers or a malfunction the research or product development team had not taken into account.
Solving the problem is important but it is essential to understand why it came about in the first place. Most problems occur within a few days after purchase, unless it’s related to wear and tear. It also provides insights on how customers navigate on their own. Software companies do a lot more of the usability tests but product problems in certain categories surfaces after real world interactions.
Problems with paper getting stuck in printers or photocopiers took years to resolve. As the demands of customers using these products evolved, fresh problems surfaced. And those are perfect opportunities for creating content based on customer behaviour. Helping customers solve problems on their own cuts support costs in the long run.
Hiding problems means they won’t be solved
There’s a misconception that admitting problems will be leveraged by competitors. The argument against that is that they will be used anyway. Solving them for customers and informing others likely to face the same problem builds trust, not the other way around.
There’s no point in being defensive – problems are solved when they’re out in the open. In today’s world, companies cannot control the narrative beyond a point. There are bloggers, technical reviewers and affected customers who will express their thoughts on social media. They are more likely to highlight faults than praise a company’s efforts.
So it makes sense to counter them with a balanced response on the action a company is taking. This is why content generation must go beyond the regular product updates to a conversation.
It’s a hard route to travel from where things were earlier. There may not be internal resources available to handle the problem. Making negative comments disappear or lowering them through keyword manipulation will backfire in the long run.
HubSpot helps you stay in touch with customers to resolve issues through multiple channels and at all stages of the customer journey – right from interest to conversion to service.
When customer issues are resolved quickly, the brand connect strengthens. An experiment by an online photo printing company showed that customers who placed orders for albums were happy when the order was completed without problems. But when mistakes were made and the company compensated quickly for the mistakes, the customers bond with the brand grew stronger.
HubSpot can help start and keep conversations going with potential customers. Talk to our consultants to find out how.