The Value of Documentation and Help when Support is Free

Every year my company hosts a large user conference where our customers are invited to attend.  The goal is for them to attend sessions that furthers their knowledge about our applications through demos and round tables; sit one on one with key company contributors for information exchange; and attend brown bags and networking events where they can freely exchange information amongst themselves with how they use our software.

An email was distributed this week by my Director with “takeaways” from the conference.  One of the major takeaways was that “the value of online help is not being readily utilized by customers because they do not go there first”.  The good news is she said value; the bad news is…customers are not using one of my team’s products.  That never bodes well for a documentation team.

It should be noted that technical support is free as is training at our company so I wonder how much of an uphill battle we are fighting.  How often will customers go to online help or a technical manual when a “real person” is a quick phone call away if not a support ticket?  It would seem, in fact, that the documentation’s teams customers are often times the support team who are looking up the information that customers are asking them on the phone.

I’m curious if anyone else has this situation and what you do to increase your value to end users.  How do you encourage them to look at documentation first before going immediately to support?  Is it simply a matter of communicating between teams in-house?

Comments

  1. Profile photo of Pavitra Jothi
    Pavitra Jothi

    Hi Kim,

    Yes, comments and feedback from your customers are very valuable for you as well as the other users. I use Zoho Wiki as the platform for my Online Help. You can give it a try and see if it suits your requirements. I have also been experimenting to try and find out better means to collect feedback from users. Will share it if something clicks.

  2. Profile photo of Pavitra Jothi
    Pavitra Jothi

    Hi Kim,

    Yes, comments and feedback from your customers are very valuable for you as well as the other users. I use Zoho Wiki as the platform for my Online Help. You can give it a try and see if it suits your requirements. I have also been experimenting to try and find out better means to collect feedback from users. Will share it if something clicks.

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