As executives look for ways to improve the customer experience, it is important to realize that a good customer experience assumes you have accurate, complete, reliable, relevant, and timely information - about the customer, about your products, and about how customers talk about, shop for, and use your products.
Many companies start the transformation process thinking in terms of the technology (PIM! CRM! ECOMMERCE! AI!) they will be using. But, you can’t automate or digitize information chaos. Information fed into these technologies needs to organized and classified first with the intended user’s needs in mind – and that process is information architecture.
Information architecture (IA) is the process of organizing and labeling information for the purpose of making that information more findable, useable, and valuable. It is both art and science. People who are trained in library science develop taxonomies, data models, and ontologies. These tools provide the knowledge framework that support websites, intranets, chatbots, and other information technology systems. But, to be truly valuable these decisions must be made in the context of the human relationships the systems support. IA happens where people, process, and technology converge.
Here are some ways you can improve the customer experience at each stage of the buying journey by applying principles of information architecture.
- Awareness - Building awareness is the key job of the marketing organization using outbound communications as well as optimizing a site for SEO. Information architecture helps to ensure that those outgoing communications are aligned with the needs of audiences.
- Consideration - The consideration stage is when people are trying to decide whether to buy your product or service or decide which particular product or service is appropriate. Information architecture assists the user in navigating and retrieving content that supports their goal.
- Purchase - The actual purchase is where information architecture approaches for managing and organizing product information is critical. That means to finding the characteristics of the product and making those characteristics available to the different types of purchasers.
- Retention - The retention part of the journey can include things like getting the right support content and documents, troubleshooting problems or getting the most use from the product. Information architecture is critical for building knowledge bases, self-service support, and virtual assistants.
- Advocacy - Advocacy is really about retaining goodwill and information architecture helps us target the right content to build community and to increase that goodwill. It helps to align the needs of the user with the specific pieces of content that will resonate with them.
There’s also the behind-the-scenes role of information architecture in managing content from an administrative and approval perspective. Content life cycles are part of information architecture as is governance, workflow and approval functionality.
The right information architecture is key to engaging users and retaining them throughout the buying journey. This ensures that information is presented in the right context along with supporting content to help customers choose and use the products they need to solve their problems.
At Earley Information Science, our team of information organization specialists can help you architect, engineer and automate a seamless, smooth and personalized customer experience. Contact us today to learn how we can help.