Having a hard time retaining customers? Think technical documentation.

Do you put a lot of effort into finding new customers year after year, but don’t always succeed in building a lasting relationship with them? Let’s take a minute to look over some figures that show why it’s worth investing in customer retention and, especially, how technical documentation can help you do this.

It pays to retain customers

You already know it’s worth trying to keep customers. But do you realize just how profitable it can be? In the Harvard Business Review article The Value of Keeping the Right Customers, author Amy Gallo says “acquiring a new customer is anywhere from five to 25 times more expensive than retaining an existing one” and that “increasing customer retention rates by 5% increases profits by 25% to 95%.” In a nutshell, loyal customers cost less and bring in more. So, don’t you want to make an effort so your customers don’t look elsewhere?

A happy customer is a loyal customer

The best way to retain clients is clearly to ensure a great customer experience. The findings of the 2011 Customer Experience Impact Report spell it out: “89% of consumers began doing business with a competitor following a poor customer experience.” And “86% of consumers will pay more for a better customer experience.”

Customer experience is so important that according to 20 Customer Retention Strategies, a business loses around 20% of its customers simply by failing to attend to their needs. What business can afford to lose one in five customers?

Your documentation can help improve the customer experience

Technical documentation is probably not the first thing that comes to mind when you’re looking for a way to improve your customer experience. But according to the 2011 Customer Experience Impact Report, “the ability to easily find the information or help they need (55%)” is second on the list of things consumers want, and makes them stick with a brand. Interesting, don’t you think?

And it gets even more interesting—especially if you’re one of those who thinks no one reads technical documentation. According to the Harvard Business Review article Kick-Ass Customer Service, 81% of consumers prefer to “take care of matters themselves before reaching out to a live representative.”

In short, most consumers want documentation at their fingertips that answers their questions or solves product-related issues. That said, it is entirely possible that no one reads your technical documentation cover to cover. Quite likely actually. But it’s not a problem if they refer to it when needed, as you’ll see in our next article.

Essential documentation tools to maintain a good relationship with your customers

There’s no one right way to provide your customers with the information they need. Here are a few to think about:

  • Printed and online manuals and guides: These must-haves are the simplest way to provide your customers with the information they need to use your products.
  • Videos: Because some customers are visual learners and others hate to read. And everyone loves YouTube!
  • Self-service and online support: A toolbox with all the information customers may need—just a few clicks away.
  • FAQ: Your customer service department’s best friend! Customers can find the answers to the most frequently asked questions by themselves, freeing up your customer service reps to focus on the more challenging ones.

Don’t forget to make sure the 20% who prefer to communicate directly with customer service have the means to do so:

  • Chat
  • Phone
  • Email
  • Facebook