Editorial March/April 2020

A Note from the Editor

If you Google customer experience, you might be disappointed, as I was, to find that Marketing is considered the holders of the keys to customer experience. Not that I begrudge them their role, but really? We want to judge customer experience by your customers’ experience with marketing? What’s wrong with this picture? Let me count the ways…

  • The goal of any business is (or certainly should be) converting prospects (the people who are interacting with sales and marketing funnels, materials, and people) to customers—the people who are interacting with products, services, and the experiences around those…to the post-sales experience.
  • Businesses also want to continue to generate revenue from, not just to sell once to, a customer. The expensive way to continue generating revenue is through customer acquisition—through marketing. The more efficient, higher-profit way is by selling more to existing customers.
  • Existing customers are not going to buy more if they aren’t happy with the experience they’ve already bought. How do we ensure post-sales satisfaction? With excellent products, services, and the experiences around those—not through more or better marketing.

One bright light of my Google-inspired trip down the rabbit hole (because, let’s face it, don’t we always get off on a tangent when we start researching anything with Google?) was the increasing emphasis on the responsibility for customer experience (in all of its many names) falling squarely on the shoulders of executives and CEOs, according to McKinsey and the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania. And the seemingly contrary idea that, illustrated by Forbes, overall satisfaction among all employees has the greatest impact on customer satisfaction and experience. WHAAT?

It makes sense. Customer experience does not begin and end with marketing. It really requires a holistic approach. And if your customers interact with your employees, their attitudes and behaviors are going to color that interaction—for good or bad.

How does all of this relate to content? As our businesses become more and more digital, we rely more heavily on content to initiate and maintain the relationship with our customers. Content becomes the conversation. If that’s true, and we strive for our customers to spend most of their relationship in the post-sales portion of their journey, what are the implications for post-sales content on customer experience?

Through our theme of “Content in the Customer Experience,” I hope to inspire you to think about your own role, as a technical content professional, in your company’s customer experience. As you read this issue’s contributions, consider this: Are your customers wildly successful due to your content?

  • How (or is) your content delivering (or better, overdelivering) on your customers’ expectations?
  • How (or is) your content ensuring that customers are successful in getting value from your organization’s offerings?
  • Based on their experiences supported by your content, are customers likely to rave about your organization’s offerings—advocating for, evangelizing, and referring others to them?

First up, Liz Herman, Knowledge Management Director at Senture, LLC, discusses customer experience, and the role that content is playing within that experience, in US government agencies. While the past seems bleak for content, perhaps the future bodes better for content in the overall experience.

Danielle Feldman Karr, Marketing Field Programs Manager at Control4, discusses the role that message plays in a customer-centric experience. As you read, consider how customer-centric your organization’s messaging is.

And in a highly relevant blast from the past, we republish a discussion with Pennsylvania State University Professor John M. Carroll of minimalism fame, as interviewed by Nicky Bleiel, Watson Information Developer at IBM. While this interview was originally published in the February 2013 issue of Intercom, the timelessness and relevance of minimalism to this issue’s theme, and the 30-year anniversary of the publication of The Nurnberg Funnel: Designing Minimalist Instruction for Practical Computer Skill, made this article’s revival a must.

As always, we have a great column lineup for you, as well.

  • In “Meet the Change Agents,” Scott Abel interviews Wouter Maagdenberg, a man on a mission to make “publish to video” as simple and ubiquitous as “save to PDF.”
  • Cindy Currie and Kit Brown-Hoekstra in “Ask a Manager” provide managers’ perspectives on productivity and project kickoffs.
  • In “Health and Medical Communication,” Kirk St.Amant enlists Anna Lerew-Phillips to provide her insights, tips, and tricks for breaking into medical communication.

In the Society pages, be sure to check out Edward Malone’s fascinating memorial to Paul Stanley Kennedy, an OG of STC and its predecessor organizations.

And last, but not least, take a trip to the stars with Todd Thalimer in “Off Hours.”

If you are feeling confident about your content in the customer experience—or you want to improve and have questions about how to do that—I encourage you to reach out! We’ve included author and columnist email addresses so that you can get in touch. My email address is there, too. We would love to discuss with you online the topics and issues raised in this issue, so we hope that you’ll ask a question or start or join a conversation!

Until next time: To your customers’ wild success!

— Andrea L. Ames



McFarland, Andrew. “Why Customer Experience Is Now Job No. 1 for CEOs.” Knoweldge@Wharton. University of Pennsylvania, March 9, 2020. https://knowledge.wharton.upenn.edu/article/experience-displaced-quality-job-no-1/.

Swinscoe, Adrian. “We Need To Start Thinking More Holistically About Customer Experience.” Forbes, 9 March, 2020. https://www.forbes.com/sites/adrianswinscoe/2020/03/11/we-need-to-start-thinking-more-holistically-about-customer-experience/#2923a36e3c49.

“The CEO Guide to Customer Experience.” McKinsey Quarterly. McKinsey & Company, August 2016. https://www.mckinsey.com/business-functions/operations/our-insights/the-ceo-guide-to-customer-experience.