Effective mechanism to gather end-user feedback

Subject: Effective mechanism to gather end-user feedback
From: "Laura Chris" <tw_asks_u -at- postinbox -dot- com>
To: techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com
Date: Wed, 18 Jan 2006 05:04:07 -0800

Hi all,

I work as a writer with a product-based company. As my documents are
targetted at the end users, I believe that direct feedback from them
would be the best way to improve the direction of writing and the
quality of our documents. This would also help me get an idea about the
expectations with the product documentation.

In our company most of the customer calls reach the help desk and I see
the big bosses complaining about increase in support costs during the
reviews. If my stars are aligned correctly, I get to know what the exact
problem was, otherwise the requirement comes as an enhancement request
for the documentation with no trace about the history of the problem.

There was an instance where a user was not able to locate the
installation details in an installation manual and the request came as a
documentation enhancement request for the next release of the product. I
do not have the luxury to try out the product installation as there is
always a shortage of systems and most of the times I have to go by the
developer's words.

Most of our manuals are in the PDF format and uploaded to our support
website. The manuals are also a part of the product CDs that reach the
customer. We have a very inviting line such as "Send your comments
about this user manual to the following e-mail address:, in our support
site but have not found any takers for this so far over the years!

This is proof that suggests end users do not like the idea of typing a
mail and waiting for the response on mail. I would like you to suggest
an effective feedback mechanism that you might have come across or
something that you could suggest.

At present, I have user forums and chat as options in mind, but we as
writers are not supposed to contact the customers directly.

Laura Chris

tw_asks_u -at- postinbox -dot- com

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