Good manuals are good business. Compare the cost of including one paragraph in a manual vs 10 phone calls a week for the lifetime of your business. Happy users are worth their weight in gold. If they like and can use your software, they will make certain that the company keeps investing in your upgrades.And most importantly, if the user is doing his job efficiently using your software, competitive products will not be considered - even at a lower price.
While South Africans like to believe we are technology savvy, the honest truth is most of us struggle with our cell phones, PVR recorders and computer - and some days even Excel spreadsheets!
From the user’s point of view, software manufacturers seem to take delight in placing commands in hard to find menus, and that help manuals are little more than a list of available commands. On the other hand, manufacturers complain that software users expect to push the “install” button on the most sophisticated software without so much as opening the manual.
The end result for technology product and service providers is:
- 90% of the power of their software or technology product goes unused
- endless support calls from annoyed customers
- frustrated call centre staff who answer the same questions over and over again
- a poor reputation for service
- lost sales due to bad mouthing or a lack of referrals
It's a PDF file - why are you trying to save paper?
In an effort to keep the manual to a small size, technical writers cut back on explanations about "old" features and focus lots of attention on new features. Don't forget you will have new users who have never seen your product before. And you will have expert users who have been working with it for years. You need to allow for beginners without talking down to expert users. A top quality manual that is easy to read and allows your software or technical product to be used to it's full potential.
How do your build a reputation for good support
The margin on software is not large, and with competition from the East it’s important to stay competitive. Many customers just assume 24/7 support is part of the price. How do you build a reputation for “delivery” without spending all your profits on support staff? Oursourcing your call centre to India is not really the answer!
Take your support online:
- Automated Registration of software or product ownership
- Only registered users have access to detailed information that might reveal intellectual property
- Frequently Asked Questions – these are initially supplied by your team. You can allow registered users to ask questions, which are then responded to by your team, or even allow super-users to respond. Replies can be immediate, or moderated.
- Downloads of manuals, spec sheets or help files – sales information is open to the public, technical information is only available to registered user
- Report Issues – an online helpdesk that allows users to report bugs or problems, and then track progress on the issue.
- Quick emailing of users by user level, type, location or custom category
- News of updates, upgrades or improvements
- Training or promotion events
- Ask for suggestions and ideas