Time for a new thread--field contacts

Subject: Time for a new thread--field contacts
From: "Derrel Fincher, Dowell" <dvfincher -at- SLB -dot- COM>
Date: Wed, 9 Nov 1994 16:55:37 -0600

This post is probably somewhat off subject for TECHWR-L, but I can't resist
the opportunity to tap into the talent of a bunch of professional
communicators. (If it is off subject, I'm sure that I will be [kindly]
corrected. ;-) )

Okay, here's the situation:

I am currently involved with (read "inherited") a product that is in several
locations world wide. We are attempting to find out how the product REALLY
performs in the field and to build a rapport with the field organizations
that use the product. We (my section) want to build the rapport because it
is important that the field organization realizes that we are the ones who
are now responsible for solving their problems, and that we should be the
point of first contact for any problems, questions, etc., that they have
about the product. We want to (gently) break them of the habit of
immediately going with their old contacts as those folks are no longer in a
position to provide much help. The field organizations are all a part of
our company.

Our immediate goal:

Figure out the best way to get this information and to build rapport.

Our capabilities:

Currently, every one of our locations where the product is has a connection
to our company's internal network (SINet). Furthermore, we run several
gopher servers and WWW servers within the company, and we even have a
gentleman with the excellent title of "Internet Administrator" (Honestly!
It's on his card!) to set up the servers and act as sysop for them.
(Appropriately enough, he's in our marketing and technical documentation

The problem:

About half of the people who have a need to know our information do not
currently have E-SINet accounts. Their education is typically high school
or trade school, and they average over 20 years with the company.
Furthermore, some of them have expressed a revulsion to learning E-mail,
even though they've never tried it. This obviously complicates our task of
getting some sort of electronic communication going. The other half are
hooked into the system, and most of them have engineering backgrounds so
they would not have a problem with electronic method. However, we really
want them to receive the information, and using gopher requires them to "do
something", which means most of them would not check gopher. We have
internal bulletin boards (somewhat like listservers), but these would not
reach the people that don't want access to the system.

Our solution (for now):

We have talked to most of these people on the phone at one time or another,
but we can't do it routinely because of the time required. Therefore, we
have opted to send updates via fax to approximately fifty people. (We are
tied into a fax service on our system that allows us to set up distribution
lists and fax postscript files.) I established a few rules, the most basic
being to write as though you were talking to the person in his living room.
The second is that an update couldn't take more than one page unless
absolutely necessary (e.g., a topic that needs more than a page to explain.)
The third is to tell them what your gonna tell them, then tell them. (I
skipped the "tell them what you told them" since the update is supposed to
be short enough that twice should cover it.) Also, we will have the second
page as a place for them to scribble comments and fax right back to us. The
goal is to have them get in the habit of contacting us. The very first
update I used to introduce ourselves, give the reason for the update, and
ask them for questions or comments they had about the product. The next
update will discuss a problem and give a solution.

Phew! Now, my questions for the list:

Does our current scheme seem to be workable?

Would we gain anything by setting up a gopher server (or other electronic
goody) considering that we want the information we give _to_ them to elicit
information _from_ them?

What ideas do you have that would allow us to do a better job of
communicating with them?

How have you handled problems like this in the past?

Sorry about consuming so much bandwidth. If you think this is off-topic, you
can send the replies directly to me. Otherwise, send them to the list.



P.S. I'm recruiting at Purdue right now, so I may not have time to
immediately respond to your messages for the rest of this week.
Derrel Fincher || Tel: (713) 275-8581
Section Head, Pump Technology || Fax: (713) 275-8552
Stimulation and Completion || SINet: DSNVXB::DFINCHER
Products Department || E-Mail: DVFincher -at- slb -dot- com
Dowell Schlumberger, Inc. || Domain: sugar-land.dowell.slb.com
110 Schlumberger Dr.,Sugar Land, TX 77478

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