Audience Analysis Response Summary

Subject: Audience Analysis Response Summary
From: Karen Brown <karenb -at- PO3 -dot- NET -dot- CHO -dot- GE -dot- COM>
Date: Mon, 25 Nov 1996 15:49:00 EST

Many thanks to all of you who responded personally or posted to the list
with ideas for how to find out what customers really want and need regarding
documentation. Here is a summary of some of the advice I found most useful:

-- Conduct usability tests--take detailed notes and question participants
about the experience. Videotaping the tests is also important so that you
can more carefully evaluate the tests later.

-- Work closely with the company's training department, perhaps even
participating in training customers so you can see firsthand how customers
use documentation. Visit a training class and ask participants detailed
questions about documentation.

-- Ask for help from Tech. Support. Ask them to provide you with details
about customers' comments about documentation. Provide them with a
specific, easy-to-use checklist and get them to track customer calls about
documentation.

-- Get to know your audience by talking to supervisors, not middle managers,
to find out what your customers want.

-- Give the product's Beta testers a questionairre about documentation and
encourage them to mark any corrections they have to the manual and fax the
pages back to you.

One consistent theme: if you want information from people--whether they be
Beta testers, customers at training, or Tech. Support personnel--be very
detailed and specific in your requests. That may seem obvious, but I think
my group's lack of preparation helped make the focus group I attended mostly
worthless.

It turns out to be timely for me to inquire about these issues. A marketing
manager came forward with some specific negative customer comments about
documentation and offered to help find some solutions. Since then, another
marketing manager and a field rep. have come forward saying they are also
concerned and would like to help. Together we hope to identify some of the
major problems and propose solutions. It looks promising!

Thanks again,

Karen Brown
karen -dot- brown -at- cho -dot- ge -dot- com
GE Fanuc Automation
Charlottesville, VA

"Consciousness: That annoying time between naps"


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