Re: Increasing Customer Contact

Subject: Re: Increasing Customer Contact
From: Len Olszewski <saslpo -at- UNX -dot- SAS -dot- COM>
Date: Wed, 7 Jul 1993 16:07:08 -0500

Jane Torpie poses this invitation:

> I'd like to hear from anyone who has (or has had) customer contact in the
> course of his/her job.

We have a "Your turn" page in all of our manuals. We invite customers to
write in with their comments and complaints. A number of them take us up
on it, and the letter is usually referred to the writer responsible for
the section or book upon which the customer comments. We make call
backs, when that seems appropriate, and *always* return a letter by way
of reply.

There is also an annual international user's group convention that
writers (indeed, staff from every department of the institute) also
attend. We have a regular booth with new books, old books, promotions
that we run, an order taking area, and so on. Users really bend our ears
there, and it is always a fascinating exercise. Well, *almost* always
8-). We also attend selected regional user's group conferences.

Pursuant to our annual international ug, we distribute and solicit
responses from our users in the form of a ballot; this includes lists of
things we are contemplating doing, and we ask users to vote for the
items to which we should give priority. Publications has a section of
the ballot. The voting ofter takes some quirky turns, but we always
try to implement the top vote-getters, from development on down through
pubs (and it *is* a downhill trip ;-).

There is also a mailing list/newsgroup, similar to this one, where our
users participate in discussions of our software and our books. We keep
an eye on that, even though we go through channels to deal with
customers individually rather than in newsgroups or on mailing lists.

We have a deal with our folks on the front line in tech support where we
can listen in on phone calls, and hear first hand how users approach
problems, use or misuse manuals. We also catch hell from the tech
support folks when a poorly conceived manual or section of a manual
gives *them* problems. Actually, they are very professional about it,
and participate eagerly in planning and review for our books. Good books
make their jobs *much* easier.

Finally, we hold conferences and briefings on campus and at customer
sites and regional offices. Staff from throughout the institute
participate in these on a volunteer basis. Writers can go, as their
schedules permit.

Management here never needed convincing about this; this has been a
major selling point for our software (and the doc) for years now.

Sorry if this sounded like a commercial. I really *do* think we get a
lot of it right here.

|Len Olszewski, Technical Writer | "Eat well, stay fit, die anyway." |
|saslpo -at- unx -dot- sas -dot- com|Cary, NC, USA| - Bumper sticker |
| Opinions this ludicrous are mine. Reasonable opinions will cost you.|

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