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"Getting feedback from customers is very problematic - you'll only get it
they feel it will benefit them and often they don't feel that way! When we
last did a totally new product here I sent out a questionnaire with the
lit. Nothing fancy, just one page that asked them to "score" the lit 1-10
for each of the manual set - about 15 in all (over hal were small
datasheets). So far I have only had one reply back and that was from an
internal customer at our parent company!! Still we keep trying."
Damien, and anyone interested in user feedback on documentation:
I was once the manager of both the Technical Writing dept. and the
Technical Support help desk for a CD-ROM publisher. While we did not have
the resources to do a formal user survey or questionnaire on our
documentation regularly, we were able to get the Help Desk staff solicit
information when their call volume was low. Here are a few ideas:
On a slower day, the help desk staff would ask some questions of anyone
calling in with a functionality call. At the end of the call, they would
tell them that we were solicting feedback on our documentation, and if they
could tell them which piece of documentation they used, which was most
helpful. This was informal, but it was a nice way to get people talking
about the documentation. We also found that the Help Desk staff frequently
told users about a piece of documentation they didn't use that they might
find helpful. So it was educational in both directions.
During a slow season (August), the Help Desk staff would do "outbound" call
projects. They would randomly call users with a 1/2 page telephone
questionnaire about our new documentation. We could get a fair response
When sales reps complained to us that they were not involved in the
development effort enough, we did a phone survey to 50 of them (out of 250)
to ask them about the user interface and the documentation. We got
terrific anecdotal feedback from them; they could generalize about a
specific group of users (e.g. lawyers, health care adminstators,
librarians, etc.) and what worked well for them; and they also told us what
users were asking for that we didn't have (e.g. flipcharts).
We sent some corporate giveaway to anyone who helped us (the Sales Dept.
always had goodies left over from conferences, and we printed up mousepads
with our 800 number on it for a more extensive survey).
Eileen_Bator -at- Compuserve -dot- com