If you work in content production, you know that the rate of change in the field has always been high. Now, however, it's accelerating even more rapidly thanks to technological innovations— especially the increased ubiquity of artificial intelligence. After years of experience with brands and the people who make those brands what they are, we feel confident saying that automation and AI won't eliminate content jobs, but they will transform them dramatically.
The new versions of content jobs will be almost unrecognizable compared to what they look like today. What does this mean for content professionals? Evolve now, because old content jobs are quickly becoming obsolete. Fortunately, the new content professional's role is more important than ever.
The old "technical writer," "documentation manager," and "knowledge manager" roles are disappearing. In their place are the new "content experience manager" and "director of content experience" roles. Why? Because the key performance indicators that matter most now are no longer focused on reducing costs, but metric-driven optimization.
The new content professional will focus on three things:
Customer renewals and upsells
As a content professional, you need to measure your impact on these three metrics, or your job may be automated.
The content experience manager, for their part, strategically and measurably affects the organization. Hallmarks of the content experience role include customer-focused thinking and taking an outside-in approach, rather than approaching content production from an inside-out perspective. The content experience manager is metrics-driven and takes a cross-departmental perspective, spanning silos and bridging departments. Finally, the new content professional examines the customer journey holistically.
Five irreversible trends are driving this shift. The first is simple customer preference. Self-service is undeniably the preferred channel for at least 81% of all customers. Moreover, it's a strong preference, according to 2016 data from an Aspect survey.
The next driving trend is the disruption of indirect models. Companies that don't directly engage with customers will be disrupted, so your business' survival depends on programmatic learning from your customers. Self-service is the key to driving direct engagement for businesses that have been missing out, making it the key to customer understanding and therefore survival.
Remember: familiarity drives affinity.
The third trend to remember is that customer success is dominating support functions. The metrics that matter are that 90% of revenue comes from existing customers and the trend suggests that companies without subscription models will be out of business within five to eight years. This means renewal and upselling are simply more important than customer satisfaction score, first call resolution, and mean time to resolution.
Content analytics and maps drive all key metrics, and content drives engagement, especially when the product doesn’t foster engagement on its own. Indeed, content is what makes customer success scalable. Publishing content in a well-structured way is critical to your ability to make maps of customer micro-moments and drive them back into marketing, customer renewal, and sales channels. This way, everyone on your team understands what drives conversions through the e-commerce experience most effectively.
The fourth trend shaping the role of the content professional is new channels, which demand new content approaches. Almost 60% of searches are done on mobile and 20-25% of searches are by voice. In a world of consumers who use text and conversational platforms to communicate, conversational AI platforms (chatbots) will be the next big platform shift in interfaces. Meanwhile, by 2025, IoT could generate more than $11 trillion in economic growth, and the augmented reality/virtual reality field is expected to surpass $162 billion (up from $5.2 billion in 2016) by 2020.
All of this means that PDFs and other static documents don't get used. You need to create content to fit new channels and your consumers who are using them.
And while break/fix (knowledge base) content can be automated from human interactions, for customer support interactions to really be automated, content providers will need to produce the content that the systems will use. That means that documentation, training, and best practices will still require humans. So will coordinating departments like marketing, sales, and success.
So, what does it all mean? In the AI and automation era, a customer-first mentality is paramount. Be metric-driven. Think about how much budget you could command if you could show management micro-maps of how to achieve better renewal and upsell numbers from your customers. That's exactly what a well-informed, talented content experience manager can do for a business, driving customer renewals, upsells, and new customer acquisition through robust brand engagement.
Be cross-departmental and holistic in your thinking. No one outside the company cares what your departments are or how they're cobbled together. How can your content affect channels like support? What do they need to get your content to customers? Identify another department to engage with and “blend” content for an optimal product.
Think about better content experiences. Customers want the information they need at any particular moment. Give it to them by putting their needs first, and don't make them figure out which department the information comes from. Google favors content that puts customer needs and preferences first by answering user questions fastest and by engagement as measured in time-on-site and page views. Ditch your PDFs and other dated or cumbersome delivery methods that look like a bounce to Google and hurt your rankings; instead, think about micro-moments, dynamic content, and the customer journey.
One final thing to consider is that AI is just 'stealing' the cut-and-paste, repetitive part of your job. The creative, big-picture aspects of content experience that demand a deep understanding of human customers are going to remain more important than ever.
This article was written by Aaron Fulkerson, CEO and Co-Founder of MindTouch, as part of the Salesforce Contributor Network. To contribute your own article, please check out our Guidelines here.
Aaron is a leading innovator in open-source and SaaS software, is CEO and Co-Founder of MindTouch. Previously, Aaron worked on the Advanced Systems Research Team at Microsoft and has informed national education policy at the White House. Aaron tackles everything with the same mantra: Be big, be kind, and kick ass.