disassembled camera
PHOTO: Alexander Andrews

It’s no secret that brands risk failure if they stand still. Kodak and Blockbuster are just two examples of big brands — with enormous opportunity — that fell by the wayside because they failed to embrace change.

In our hyperconnected world, brands must constantly update and enhance the customer experiences they offer. Of course, that’s easier said than done. Every customer is different. But advancing the customer experience based on what you know the customer wants is a step in the right direction. Take in-depth product information. It doesn’t immediately spring to mind when you first think of facilitating a more engaging customer experience. But it has always been an important component of a company’s sales offerings. And, according to research by my company, SDL, it has started to play a much larger role in the overall customer purchase experience, particularly among millennials.

Technical Documentation Plays an Outsized Role in Purchases

Millenials, whose spending in the United States will reach $1.4 trillion by 2020, according to Accenture, actively search and review a brand’s collection of technical documents before buying.

My company’s report “Making Your Content Connect With the Next Generation” found that 41 percent of millennials search for online tutorials, and 33 percent search for technical Q&A documents and manuals before buying a product online. Moreover, 29 percent also try to understand the size, activeness and popularity of user communities before completing their purchases.

In a trait they share in common with members of other generations, millennials also want access to technical content in one place, on any device and in any language they choose. If you can offer this standard of technical material to your customers, our research shows that 73 of them say they would recommend your company to friends and family.

Related Article: 5 Tips to Align Your Marketing and Technical Content

A Cross-Generational Trend 

It’s not just millennials who want access to technical information. There’s an increased demand among all age groups for high-quality product content from companies, and in particular manufacturers, to drive not only purchase decisions but to build brand loyalty. Customers do not just refer to technical content when they set up newly purchased products, it is also often the first place people turn when troubleshooting problems. That is online technical content, instead of a printed manual that might have come with the product. Delivering that content to customers at their time of need is a great opportunity to build trust. However, if instead they need to go to YouTube or an external forum to find the answer to their problems, you’ve missed the mark.

Looking more deeply at the results, three findings stand out and illustrate the demand from customers of all ages for more technically-led content.

  • Eighty-one percent of customers want technical content available in their language. By localizing content it shows a company’s understanding of and commitment to other cultures, which in turn enhances a brand’s overall image.
  • Sixty-five percent of customers want technical content available in multiple formats. No longer is the printout in the box or an online PDF sufficient to meet a customer’s needs. Video, in particular, is gaining ground as a preferred way to consume technical information.
  • Sixty-one percent of customers want content available on multiple devices. Product searches no longer happen just on a desktop computer. Technical information needs to be formatted and optimized for mobiles, tablets and any screen size a customer chooses.

Related Article: 3 Ways to Reduce the Cost of Customer Support Operations

A Single Source of Truth

The vast majority of respondents (94 percent) agree that having all information available on a single platform, in a single place or source, is important to them. A single platform gives a company the option to interact with customers along different touchpoints, from product pages, to FAQs, to general company information and technical documentation.

But, as we know, the reality for businesses is this data and content is often scattered across the departments and repositories. As a result, customers have to jump between your marketing content, your online shop and support pages to find the information they are looking for.

Re-Architect Your Content Supply Chain

Centralizing disparate content management systems (CMS) onto a single enterprise-wide CMS will help, but you will need to go further and master a complex environment of marketing, technical and commerce-led content, and deliver it all across web, mobile and other digital touchpoints to create continuous digital experiences. Brands can support the demand for high-quality technical information by using a component-based content management system (CCMS), capable of storing, organizing, and managing in-depth product content in any language.

Keep in mind that creating technical product information is hugely different from creating and managing sales and marketing content. It requires dedicated tooling and processes that align with your product development and support practices. A combination of a CCMS, a web CMS and translation technology can help your organization create and manage global technical content — like manuals, datasheets and documents – as well as global marketing content, and better collaborate throughout the review process.

At delivery time though, these different types of content need to blend together to ensure an integrated, non-fragmented customer journey. This is where you need to revisit current website delivery technologies and processes, and look at ways to “mask” your internal organizational silos. The customer doesn’t care who in your company produces content, they simply want easy access to the right information. Using a unified delivery stack instead of separate web CMS, CCMS and commerce delivery platforms will help you create the DX continuity that people expect.

Related Article: Clean Up Your Digital Presence: A Scalable Content Decision Making Process

Support Content Needs After Purchase

It seems obvious that people, both in a professional and private capacity, would research a product online before purchasing. But what is less obvious is that they will continue to use online content after they’ve made the purchase. This presents brands with an enormous and highly lucrative opportunity to continue reinforcing their brand, and forge even stronger bonds with customers. If you want to stand still and do nothing, then millennials will go elsewhere. Gaining their loyalty requires an initial effort, but it will pay dividends in positive and shared reviews that drive others to your products.