Re: questions for readers sought

Subject: Re: questions for readers sought
From: Mike Stockman <stockman -at- jagunet -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L, a list for all technical communication issues" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Tue, 31 Aug 1999 12:06:38 -0400

On 08/31/1999 10:55 AM, Brierley, Sean (Brierley -at- Quodata -dot- Com) wrote:

>For example, I certainly plan to ask about three-ring binders. I'd like to
>know whether customers receive page updates for insertion into their
>existing books and whether these pages really do make it in.
>
>I'd like some input on what I should ask my readers. Feel free to e-mail me
>directly on this issue.

I admire the need to survey the users, but perhaps a day of observation,
focus-group style, at several customer sites would be more informative.

For one thing, the users who don't bother to insert the pages into the
binders won't respond to surveys, either, so your results will
automatically be skewed. Other survey points may run into similar
problems.

Surveys you send out don't get returned, at least without some incentive.
Work with your marketing department on this, perhaps... "Return this
survey on our vegetarian cooking manuals, and win a free fur coat!" (On
second thought, perhaps marketing isn't the group to talk to on this
one...)

Perhaps your best chance at getting your survey questions answered is to
make it really, really easy to respond (well-designed web survey,
perhaps) and to provide some genuine incentive (drawing for free year's
worth of upgrades, or something else your company will stand behind).

Finally, you need to be sure that the survey results are considered
carefully, and not simply twisted to support people's pet notions. I
worked for a company once that spent huge quantities of money to gather
and survey the customers, 80% of whom said that support for platform "X"
was still important. The people who thought that platform was dead said
"See! That used to be 82%! It's dropping!" and they killed support for
platform "X." For some reason, sales plummeted.

Good luck,
----->Mike


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