Re: Documentation not as important anymore?

Subject: Re: Documentation not as important anymore?
From: Lori Lathrop <76620 -dot- 456 -at- COMPUSERVE -dot- COM>
Date: Tue, 3 May 1994 12:40:39 EDT

Thanks, Dave Venzke, for posting part of the _PC World_ survey results
in response to Saul Carliner's comments:

>> Although I agree with Lori that a good index is important, the sad fact is
>> that even if we have the best indexes in the world, people would choose to
>> call user support before they'd ever look in the manual, if the option was
>> available. That's human nature and seems to be borne out in studies of
>> computer users (although I have no specific cites).

Dave's quotes from the _PC World_ survey made me feel much better:
> [stuff deleted]
> 87 percent rely on documentation for troubleshooting when something
> goes awry; and 85 percent use it as a command reference. Fifty-four
> percent of respondents use computer documentation for tutorials, while
> a mere 3.6 percent consider it a last resort when they can't get
> through to technical support."
> [more stuff deleted]
> "... A thorough index came out way ahead in this contest, earning an
> average score of 1.59, followed by a command reference (3.19), a good
> table of contents (3.53), screen images (4.02), and a walk-through
> tutorial (4.09). Bringing up the rear were features less likely to
> affect how you use the documentation: a spiral binding that allows
> pages to lie flat (4.5) and the use of color to highlight important
> points (4.93)...."

That's really good to know! After reading Saul's post, I began to wonder
if I've been over-optimistic in thinking that most users want to be self-
reliant and that they call hot lines & customer support only after they've
"struck out" with other attempts to obtain the information they need.

Speaking personally, calling customer support is always the last resort
for me. If I can't find what I need in the documentation, I'd rather ask
other end-users than call customer support. For example, several months
ago, I had an annoying problem with my HP DeskJet printer, and there was
absolutely nothing about it in the documentation. So, one night before
going to bed, I posted a note in the HP Peripherals Forum on CompuServe;
when I got up the next morning, I was delighted to discover that a guy in
Germany had the solution to my problem. And ... I didn't have to spend
the better part of an hour (or more) "on hold" waiting for someone in
Customer Support to give me an answer, which may or may not have worked.
Why do I have so little confidence in Customer Support? -- Probably
because I know of more than one company that staffs their Customer Support
lines with inexperienced college students who are just trying to make
a little extra money and, unfortunately, the quality of Customer Support
is unspeakably awful.

Lori Lathrop ----------> INTERNET:76620 -dot- 456 -at- compuserve -dot- com
Lathrop Media Services
P.O. Box 808
Georgetown, CO 80444

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