Technical documentation is viewed as something handy and nobody would ever doubt that it is necessary to have one. On the other hand, technical writers are faced with the reality of people underestimating what they are doing. We’ve painted a dreadful picture of a post-apocalyptic world where tech writers don’t exist anymore.
But, sometimes, it is important to go through the most basic and down-to-earth things like, if you save on tech writing you will potentially lose a lot of clients and money. I am going to point out three major things that technical writers help piece together for a company: product adoption, case deflection, and overall user satisfaction with a product. Let’s start!
Product adoption oftentimes starts with a demo and can be extremely helpful. The vendor always says things like — you can contact us anytime if you have questions and we’ll help you with that. But when a user is left alone with a product, they, most likely, will have a lot of questions, even the most basic ones, that they wouldn’t feel too comfortable to contact the vendor about. Nobody wants to look bad and, also, it can take too much time trying to settle such things via email or by setting up calls. Plus, more questions tend to come up very quickly when you are starting to work with a new tool.
It is truly amazing if your company has overarching learning opportunities, however, even this will not suffice — you can’t squeeze all the details, examples, and instructions into a learning course, besides, some things are too specific to be even mentioned there. Learning courses are created to explain the most used features. With all that said, technical documentation is a perfect resource for product adoption:
- Online documentation is available at any given moment — a reader just needs an internet connection and a browser.
- Documentation can include not just text but also things like videos, all kinds of images, code examples, etc.
- Technical documentation can be as thorough as you want — you can even make a separate pro version of your user manual using single-sourcing techniques if you don’t want it to be overly complex for the general audience.
- Users can find exactly what they need with the help of navigation mechanisms like an Index, a TOC, filtered search, See Also elements, etc.
See how this all can work out great for an immersive adoption experience? There’s a high chance that without this opportunity to learn and understand the product, a client will just drop it.
When a user gets a hold of the tool, they will start asking other kinds of questions. Not just like ‘what does this button do?’(however, this one is always a possibility 🙂 ), but the kind that will go to the support queue. Sometimes, users find bugs, but more often than not, they just aren’t aware of the tool’s full potential. A lot of such questions can be avoided if you have a thorough and well-written technical guide, an online user manual, or at least an FAQ section.
It is next to impossible to count the exact amount of money we are saving by having good technical documentation versus hiring more and more support engineers, but the profit is clearly there. Good user documentation helps companies make their technical support model scalable. Also, don’t forget that user manuals are used internally to teach new Technical Support engineers about the product, too. Which means, again, saving time and money that would otherwise go to cover the extra onboarding efforts.
User manuals provide guidance for your clients throughout their journey with your product. This means that techcomm is a crucial means of increasing user satisfaction. If you fail to deliver the technical documentation your target audience requires — this will leave a lot of customers disappointed. Quality documentation helps users use a tool to its full potential, teach how to overcome pitfalls, and provide a clear vision of the product.
Some companies prefer to leave this to support and marketing, but such an approach is short-sighted. Neither will be able to dedicate enough time to every single user who needs a deep-dive into the product while an online documentation portal will.
So, what is the price of saving on good tech documentation? The tall is really high. And, it is not just money. It is more about whether your clients will feel that your company cares about them. There isn’t even a choice — to build fruitful long-lasting relationships with your users, providing them with high-quality techcomm content is what every company should do.
Good luck with your technical writing!
Author, host and deliver documentation across platforms and devices