Take the first annual State of Customer Self Service survey and share your expertise.
Take the survey
Technical Writing
March 18, 2022
xx min read

Metadata for Customer Self-Service in Manufacturing

The problem of customer self-service is a huge one for manufacturers.

You create products. Smart, innovative products that help our world keep turning. Your products solve problems, inspire us, or simply help us turn on the lights each day. The problem is the content. There’s just so much of it. From technical documentation to help pages to FAQ forms, there are huge numbers of documents being created. And if you have different versions of your product, that only increases your content exponentially. Need a new language? New doc. Small product update? New doc. Special features? New doc. All of these new outputs are tied to one source document, but without content reuse, it creates unnecessary new documents. With all of these documents floating around, it can really affect customers. Because you know how frustrated customers get when they’re trying to figure out your product but keep finding documentation that’s for the wrong version?Or when the information they find on your website is different from the information your support team gives them?Metadata can help fix that.

What is Metadata?

In the simplest form, Metadata is simple data about your data. It’s how you categorize your content. When you use a CCMS, you can “tag” your content with metadata. This allows you to classify and document all kinds of information about your content. Heretto automatically tags your content with some kinds of metadata like:

  • Last Time Modified
  • Created Time
  • Needs Attention
  • Is Valid
  • Contains Broken Links
  • Contains Comments
  • Owned By
  • Status
  • Content Type

But this is just default system metadata, where it gets exciting is when you add metadata that describes your content in ways that matter to your customer. Things like:

  • Marketing
  • Complexity
  • Advanced
  • Beginner
  • Intermediate
  • Persona
  • Collaborator
  • Manager
  • Reviewer
  • Writer
  • Internal QA
  • Failed
  • Partially Passed
  • Passed
  • Content Maintenance
  • Information Gap
  • Obsolete
  • Outdated
  • Needs Improvement

Why is customer self-service important?

The way we interact with our customers is the way we build trust. When customers can’t find the information they’re looking for easily, they’ll get frustrated. The easier we can make it for them to interact with our content, the more satisfied they’ll be. When we empower customers to self-service, we save them time. When they’re having trouble finding help information, the number one thing they want is to resolve the problem and get on with their life. Customer self-service simply means giving your customers the ability to find answers to their problems without your help. It should be your first line of defense when it comes to addressing customer issues. When they can find answers on their own it cuts down customer service calls, and it helps customers feel more confident in your organization.Keeping easily answered questions in customer self-service frees your staff to focus on the really important and complicated questions.

What does metadata have to do with customer self service?

Here’s where the real power of metadata comes into play. Metadata allows your customers to bypass the long line in the call center and go straight to the source of their problem. Remember all those docs your organization has? Without metadata you have to manually browse through them to — hopefully — find the right one. Metadata helps customers find their answers much faster by empowering them to create highly specific searches. They can find exactly the right documentation that answers the exact problem they have. Think about the last time you looked for something on an e-commerce site. Did you scroll infinitely through many options that weren’t relevant? No, of course not. You selected the color, size, brand, and price point that fit your needs, then picked from a small set. This is the experience your customers want. Narrow the results, consider a few options, pick the right one. On the flip side, if you make them scroll, they're going to call you.Microcontent that has been tagged with metadata is easily searchable by both people and machines. As AI continues to emerge as a major factor in new technology, giving computers the ability to read and understand your content is invaluable. Metadata can also give us valuable insights into what kind of content our customers look for most often and find most helpful. If you aren’t taking advantage of metadata, you’re missing out on valuable information.

How do I get started with metadata for customer self-service?

Creating metadata in a CCMS is simple, but creating it in a way that benefits customers takes some work.After internal tags, you can tag your content with information about customer type, beginner or advanced user, product information, and even specific actionable features, like buttons. In Heretto you have the option to create specific metadata tags that will help your organization categorize documentation in a way that makes sense. After putting in a little work on the front end, you’ll be reaping the benefits of metadata for years to come.

Create great content together

Write, review, translate, and publish all from one system. Heretto is the only ContentOps platform that allows multiple authors to work together at the same time.