Re: FW: Getting users to RTFM (Damien Braniff)

Subject: Re: FW: Getting users to RTFM (Damien Braniff)
From: Sion Lane <sion -dot- lane -at- unit4 -dot- com>
To: "techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Wed, 17 Sep 2014 08:05:36 +0000

I like the idea, but rather than asking the tech support team I would ask to be copied in on their monthly/weekly logs and do some analysis of my own.

I would also create a series of How to... guides and see if you can add some text to the installation wizard/splash screen pointing the user to those docs.

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Today's Topics:

1. FW: Getting users to RTFM (David Tinsley)
2. RE: Getting users to RTFM (Cardimon, Craig)
3. Re: FW: Getting users to RTFM (John G)
4. Re: FW: Getting users to RTFM (Damien Braniff)
5. Re: FW: Getting users to RTFM (Keith Hood)
6. Re: FW: Getting users to RTFM (Gene Kim-Eng)
7. Re: FW: Getting users to RTFM (Peter Neilson)
8. Re: Getting users to RTFM (Helen OBoyle)
9. Re: FW: Getting users to RTFM (Gene Kim-Eng)


----------------------------------------------------------------------

Message: 1
Date: Tue, 16 Sep 2014 16:13:03 +0000
From: David Tinsley <dtinsley -at- ndigital -dot- com>
To: "techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Subject: FW: Getting users to RTFM
Message-ID: <d7652a579b6b47ce93c14192b59038fb -at- NDICASMB02 -dot- ndigital -dot- com>
Content-Type: text/plain; charset="utf-8"



Hi,
I am after some opinions from fellow tech writers. We produce fairly complex spatial measurement systems that require a considerable understanding of the technology before they can be used in any meaningful way. My tech support colleagues continually get calls from customers for which the response is RTFM. The manuals do contain all the information needed, but it seems the customers would rather pick up the phone to tech support. We have been brainstorming ways of making it less intimidating for the customer to find information in the manuals. We deliver pdf, fully indexed, cross referenced and with a comprehensive logical TOC.

One idea the tech support folk had was to incorporate some kind of "landing page" on the pdf with a "What do you want to do" kind of thing with links to the appropriate section. To my way of thinking we already have that in the TOC and this would just introduce yet another layer of information that would be ignored.

So, after all the preamble my question is this: What successful methods have you implemented to persuade the user to search for the information in the manuals?

David (who never reads manuals unless it is to critique them!)

------------------------------

Message: 2
Date: Tue, 16 Sep 2014 16:17:04 +0000
From: "Cardimon, Craig" <ccardimon -at- M-S-G -dot- com>
To: 'David Tinsley' <dtinsley -at- ndigital -dot- com>,
"'techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com'" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Subject: RE: Getting users to RTFM
Message-ID:
<7AAC13DC756EEA4CB5360BDB593E4B894F81C4BB -at- Delmar3 -dot- m-s-g -dot- com>
Content-Type: text/plain; charset="us-ascii"

David,

I am currently re-writing one of our large user guides into a more friendly "How-To" format.

You could try something like that.

You could also try doing a series of very short videos, with each video containing one "How-To."

And by the way, I never read the manual, either!

Craig

-----Original Message-----
From: techwr-l-bounces+ccardimon=m-s-g -dot- com -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com [mailto:techwr-l-bounces+ccardimon=m-s-g -dot- com -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com] On Behalf Of David Tinsley
Sent: Tuesday, September 16, 2014 12:13 PM
To: techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com
Subject: FW: Getting users to RTFM



Hi,
I am after some opinions from fellow tech writers. We produce fairly complex spatial measurement systems that require a considerable understanding of the technology before they can be used in any meaningful way. My tech support colleagues continually get calls from customers for which the response is RTFM. The manuals do contain all the information needed, but it seems the customers would rather pick up the phone to tech support. We have been brainstorming ways of making it less intimidating for the customer to find information in the manuals. We deliver pdf, fully indexed, cross referenced and with a comprehensive logical TOC.

One idea the tech support folk had was to incorporate some kind of "landing page" on the pdf with a "What do you want to do" kind of thing with links to the appropriate section. To my way of thinking we already have that in the TOC and this would just introduce yet another layer of information that would be ignored.

So, after all the preamble my question is this: What successful methods have you implemented to persuade the user to search for the information in the manuals?

David (who never reads manuals unless it is to critique them!)

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------------------------------

Message: 3
Date: Tue, 16 Sep 2014 12:27:38 -0400
From: John G <john -at- garisons -dot- com>
To: David Tinsley <dtinsley -at- ndigital -dot- com>
Cc: "techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Subject: Re: FW: Getting users to RTFM
Message-ID:
<CAFJnaP4bocM77pepspsrG44=H6t15K1_1G8a9GVZcFv-xJmpPA -at- mail -dot- gmail -dot- com>
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Back in olden days I was documenting a hardware/software product with very slim profit margins. Our goal statement:

Write documentation that allows users to find information easier and faster than using the telephone.

Our research noted that the fully loaded cost of answering a tech support call was $50 ... in 1987 dollars ($105.45 today based on inflation).

Looks like we're still dealing with the same problem.


On Tue, Sep 16, 2014 at 12:13 PM, David Tinsley <dtinsley -at- ndigital -dot- com>
wrote:

>
>
> Hi,
> I am after some opinions from fellow tech writers. We produce fairly
> complex spatial measurement systems that require a considerable
> understanding of the technology before they can be used in any
> meaningful way. My tech support colleagues continually get calls from
> customers for which the response is RTFM. The manuals do contain all
> the information needed, but it seems the customers would rather pick
> up the phone to tech support. We have been brainstorming ways of
> making it less intimidating for the customer to find information in
> the manuals. We deliver pdf, fully indexed, cross referenced and with a comprehensive logical TOC.
>
> One idea the tech support folk had was to incorporate some kind of
> "landing page" on the pdf with a "What do you want to do" kind of
> thing with links to the appropriate section. To my way of thinking we
> already have that in the TOC and this would just introduce yet another
> layer of information that would be ignored.
>
> So, after all the preamble my question is this: What successful
> methods have you implemented to persuade the user to search for the
> information in the manuals?
>
> David (who never reads manuals unless it is to critique them!)
>
> ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
> Read about how Georgia System Operation Corporation improved teamwork,
> communication, and efficiency using Doc-To-Help |
> http://bit.ly/1lRPd2l
>
> ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
>
> You are currently subscribed to TECHWR-L as vwritert -at- gmail -dot- com -dot-
>
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> techwr-l-leave -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com
>
>
> Send administrative questions to admin -at- techwr-l -dot- com -dot- Visit
> http://www.techwhirl.com/email-discussion-groups/ for more resources
> and info.
>
> Looking for articles on Technical Communications? Head over to our
> online magazine at http://techwhirl.com
>
> Looking for the archived Techwr-l email discussions? Search our
> public email archives @ http://techwr-l.com/archives
>


------------------------------

Message: 4
Date: Tue, 16 Sep 2014 18:46:16 +0200
From: Damien Braniff <Damien -dot- Braniff -at- asg -dot- com>
To: "Techwr-L (techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com)"
<techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Subject: Re: FW: Getting users to RTFM
Message-ID:
<9CE4ABD84862964A93B8E3440126B68B1952A47AE6 -at- gechem8mail1 -dot- asg -dot- com>
Content-Type: text/plain; charset="iso-8859-1"

I had a similar problem many moons ago with a very simple product but a similar solution might work. Talk to tech support and get them to provide you with a list of their top 10/20/ you choose(!) repeat queries about the product. Create a Quick Ref Guide for those 'problems' but at the highest level you feel will work. :-)

Basically a series of steps for each:

First .... UG page x
2nd..... UG page y
Etc

Essentially you're doing the looking-up for them but it might work. I know we dropped calls to support by 30+% so a worthwhile effort for us.

HTH

I ALWAYS read the manual!! :-)


Damien Braniff, Sr. Technical Writer
damienb -at- asg -dot- com?|? +44 0 1727 736 255
www.asg.com?|?
Facebook??|??LinkedIn??|??Twitter??|??YouTube





------------------------------

Message: 5
Date: Tue, 16 Sep 2014 17:34:09 -0700
From: Keith Hood <klhra -at- yahoo -dot- com>
To: Damien Braniff <Damien -dot- Braniff -at- asg -dot- com>, "Techwr-L
\(techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com\)" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Subject: Re: FW: Getting users to RTFM
Message-ID:
<1410914049 -dot- 51065 -dot- YahooMailNeo -at- web125806 -dot- mail -dot- ne1 -dot- yahoo -dot- com>
Content-Type: text/plain; charset=us-ascii

RTFM is nice to think about, but it's futile. Human resistance to thinking for themselves is universal, impregnable, and everlasting. Many moons ago I was in charge of the mechanics in an Army unit. One day I was in a maintenance bay and I heard two of my heroes arguing about what to do next in their work on a jeep. They kept arguing about what the book said. They were standing maybe 12 feet from the door to the shop office where the book sat on a shelf. After five or six minutes of this nonsense, they finally agreed on how to decide the issue - they decided to go out into the yard and find the motor sergeant and ask him.



On Tuesday, September 16, 2014 11:46 AM, Damien Braniff <Damien -dot- Braniff -at- asg -dot- com> wrote:



I had a similar problem many moons ago with a very simple product but a similar solution might work. Talk to tech support and get them to provide you with a list of their top 10/20/ you choose(!) repeat queries about the product. Create a Quick Ref Guide for those 'problems' but at the highest level you feel will work. :-)

Basically a series of steps for each:

First .... UG page x
2nd..... UG page y
Etc

Essentially you're doing the looking-up for them but it might work. I know we dropped calls to support by 30+% so a worthwhile effort for us.

HTH

I ALWAYS read the manual!! :-)


Damien Braniff, Sr. Technical Writer
damienb -at- asg -dot- com | +44 0 1727 736 255
www.asg.com |
Facebook | LinkedIn | Twitter | YouTube




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------------------------------

Message: 6
Date: Tue, 16 Sep 2014 17:45:52 -0700
From: Gene Kim-Eng <techwr -at- genek -dot- com>
To: David Tinsley <dtinsley -at- ndigital -dot- com>,
"techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Subject: Re: FW: Getting users to RTFM
Message-ID: <5418D9C0 -dot- 9090300 -at- genek -dot- com>
Content-Type: text/plain; charset=ISO-8859-1; format=flowed

Charge for tech support.

Gene Kim-Eng


On 9/16/2014 9:13 AM, David Tinsley wrote:
> The manuals do contain all the information needed, but it seems the customers would rather pick up the phone to tech support. We have been brainstorming ways of making it less intimidating for the customer to find information in the manuals.



------------------------------

Message: 7
Date: Tue, 16 Sep 2014 21:37:54 -0400
From: "Peter Neilson" <neilson -at- windstream -dot- net>
To: techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com
Subject: Re: FW: Getting users to RTFM
Message-ID: <op -dot- xma5hgpzrns8nc -at- odin>
Content-Type: text/plain; charset=utf-8; format=flowed; delsp=yes

On Tue, 16 Sep 2014 20:45:52 -0400, Gene Kim-Eng <techwr -at- genek -dot- com> wrote:

> Charge for tech support.

Here's an idea I though I'd sent earlier, but that only went to one person.
I seem to agree with Gene:

At the risk of losing sales or perhaps an entire customer base, Customer Support and TW people occasionally propose the following suggestion:

Customer support: May I help you?
Customer: Damned thing doesn't work.
CS: Have you read page three of the manual?
C: Of course.
CS: And what did you find there?
C: Hold on a minute...
CS: [twiddles thumbs while C finds still-shrink-wrapped manual]
C: Yeah. Here it is. Uh, 'Customer support calls that can be answered by reading the manual or the training material are billed at $300.'
CS: Will that be Visa, Master Card, or American Express?

I wonder if any company actually does that?

Or is it more effective to have an overseas CS person read the manual aloud in far-off-landian-accent English over the phone?


------------------------------

Message: 8
Date: Wed, 17 Sep 2014 11:45:01 +1000
From: Helen OBoyle <hoboyle -at- gmail -dot- com>
Cc: "techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Subject: Re: Getting users to RTFM
Message-ID:
<CAJ2=HLaLS1FDpbFYn9LcipGG9J+upORe=bAFPX=BMmTHC5Sskg -at- mail -dot- gmail -dot- com>
Content-Type: text/plain; charset=UTF-8

David,

I agree with the idea of creating videos (maybe explaining some of the concepts, with real-world illustrations) and task-oriented ("How do I...?") documentation. And I never read the manual until I need to do something I can't figure out how to do. (Any more, that is. I used to read manuals with great excitement. That was, coincidentally, before I started writing them. ;-)

Helen.

On Wed, Sep 17, 2014 at 2:17 AM, Cardimon, Craig <ccardimon -at- m-s-g -dot- com>
wrote:

> David,
>
> I am currently re-writing one of our large user guides into a more
> friendly "How-To" format.
>
> You could try something like that.
>
> You could also try doing a series of very short videos, with each
> video containing one "How-To."
>
> And by the way, I never read the manual, either!
>
> Craig
>
>


------------------------------

Message: 9
Date: Tue, 16 Sep 2014 21:00:27 -0700
From: Gene Kim-Eng <techwr -at- genek -dot- com>
To: Peter Neilson <neilson -at- windstream -dot- net>,
techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com
Subject: Re: FW: Getting users to RTFM
Message-ID: <5419075B -dot- 9040308 -at- genek -dot- com>
Content-Type: text/plain; charset=ISO-8859-1; format=flowed

Most commonly, product comes with some period of "free" phone support, with the clock starting with your first call. After that a paid service contract/subscription is required for continued phone support.

Gene Kim-Eng


On 9/16/2014 6:37 PM, Peter Neilson wrote:
>
>
> I wonder if any company actually does that?



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