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1
2
3
We can all show up and fill 8 hours.
How do we decide what work is really meaningful?
How do we prioritize our time?
4
To put it more succintly…
5
6
Not this exact box, but same era.
https://flic.kr/p/6LcMCw
7
Docs, engineering, and PM were in sunny Menlo Park
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9
10
11
https://flic.kr/p/ec6mMD
12
https://flic.kr/p/djAYqc
13
This was an extreme example, but the reality is that if documentation and support are kept
separated and rarely communicat...
15
The docs need to answer real customer questions
https://flic.kr/p/2yavu
16
Ticket deflection?
Often named as a goal for docs, but deflection isn’t the right idea…
https://flic.kr/p/9xRXiJ
https://f...
We don’t want customers to shut up and go away
We want their feedback!
We need to make sure we address their questions whe...
Answering your customers’ questions, letting them use your product effectively and get
their jobs done makes for happy cus...
20
A few years ago, I went to a meetup at a very large company (not write the docs!)
There were two presenters, one from cust...
22
I asked whether they were using the same tools, were sharing content…
23
https://flic.kr/p/4vozZ
24
https://flic.kr/p/YLNbG
25
They very patiently, and slowly, explained to me…
https://flic.kr/p/4vozZ
26
Why? Why do this extra work? It’s wasting time, and wasting money.
How does the customer know where to go to find answers?...
28
More work, lower quality (at least, lower than it could be)
https://flic.kr/p/bBukwy
29
If you don’t know what your customers are asking about, how they use the product, then
you’re creating what you THINK is g...
Why doesn’t the documentation answer my questions?
What am I paying for?
https://flic.kr/p/72iDT
31
Customer Support uses your documentation to learn about the product
Why doesn’t the documentation answer the right questio...
33
Build a relationship
Not just their names, but what they focus on, their areas of expertise
Work with their manager to mak...
Look for types of tickets: ”How do I…”, “I want to...”, “I’ve look at the documentation but...”
35
Support ticketing systems support categories; you might need to customize this and add
Documentation, as a category or a s...
37
What’s the level of expertise across customers?
What vocabulary do they use?
Does this match your terminology, or do you n...
Look for the number of Documentation or Question tickets coming in
Are there a lot? Is there a trend? New vs. Experienced ...
Do they have a knowledge base?
Mine it!
Better yet, build ONE source of truth!
https://www.flickr.com/photos/multnomahcoun...
Don’t underestimate them; they communicate with customers much more frequently than
you do!
Give them credit
Show them the...
Don’t give them a huge style guide to follow
Overcome the fear of the blank page
Helps organize their thoughts
Ensures con...
43
Make them valued reviewers and documentarian partners
44
Look for change: number and type of “documentation” and “question” tickets
Are the questions getting more complex, more fr...
Your customers don’t care about your company structure
Silos don’t help you or your customers
https://flic.kr/p/4vhAFD
46
Build a culture of information sharing
You want people feeding information to you, not having to play detective every day
...
The more we do this, the better you can prioritize your tasks and deliver docs that really
help your customers
Use the inp...
This is the goal: better, more concise docs that meet customer needs
This is how we prioritize our tasks and make our work...
https://flic.kr/p/4PTZpe
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Two Great Teams: Bridging the Gap Between Documentation and Customer Support

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Published on

User assistance (documentation) is basically self-service customer support. Both documentation and customer support are critical to the success of any company, and they work better when they assist and improve each other. How can tap the knowledge of our support agents to improve the documentation, and how can we make the lives of support agents easier in return?
I’ve worked very closely with customer support and customer success teams for years, and I’ve gone from thinking of them as “the RTFM, turn if off an on again folks” to being their biggest advocate and fan.
Let me tell you how documentarians can work with customer support to turn the F in RTFM from F*** to FANTASTIC!

Published in: Technology
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Two Great Teams: Bridging the Gap Between Documentation and Customer Support

  1. 1. 1
  2. 2. 2
  3. 3. 3
  4. 4. We can all show up and fill 8 hours. How do we decide what work is really meaningful? How do we prioritize our time? 4
  5. 5. To put it more succintly… 5
  6. 6. 6
  7. 7. Not this exact box, but same era. https://flic.kr/p/6LcMCw 7
  8. 8. Docs, engineering, and PM were in sunny Menlo Park 8
  9. 9. 9
  10. 10. 10
  11. 11. 11
  12. 12. https://flic.kr/p/ec6mMD 12
  13. 13. https://flic.kr/p/djAYqc 13
  14. 14. This was an extreme example, but the reality is that if documentation and support are kept separated and rarely communicate then we aren’t providing good service to our customers https://flic.kr/p/9a6U6Z 14
  15. 15. 15
  16. 16. The docs need to answer real customer questions https://flic.kr/p/2yavu 16
  17. 17. Ticket deflection? Often named as a goal for docs, but deflection isn’t the right idea… https://flic.kr/p/9xRXiJ https://flic.kr/p/4gNn2b 17
  18. 18. We don’t want customers to shut up and go away We want their feedback! We need to make sure we address their questions where and when they want answers https://flic.kr/p/8e4gZe 18
  19. 19. Answering your customers’ questions, letting them use your product effectively and get their jobs done makes for happy customers Happy customers renew; happy customers buy more; happy customers say nice things about your product https://flic.kr/p/dXEzZp 19
  20. 20. 20
  21. 21. A few years ago, I went to a meetup at a very large company (not write the docs!) There were two presenters, one from customer support, another from the documentation team 21
  22. 22. 22
  23. 23. I asked whether they were using the same tools, were sharing content… 23
  24. 24. https://flic.kr/p/4vozZ 24
  25. 25. https://flic.kr/p/YLNbG 25
  26. 26. They very patiently, and slowly, explained to me… https://flic.kr/p/4vozZ 26
  27. 27. Why? Why do this extra work? It’s wasting time, and wasting money. How does the customer know where to go to find answers? https://flic.kr/p/4vozZ 27
  28. 28. 28
  29. 29. More work, lower quality (at least, lower than it could be) https://flic.kr/p/bBukwy 29
  30. 30. If you don’t know what your customers are asking about, how they use the product, then you’re creating what you THINK is good documentation Maybe your instincts are great, but after 20 years as a tech writer I’ve learned to NOT trust my instincts; get the data! 30
  31. 31. Why doesn’t the documentation answer my questions? What am I paying for? https://flic.kr/p/72iDT 31
  32. 32. Customer Support uses your documentation to learn about the product Why doesn’t the documentation answer the right questions? https://flic.kr/p/4bC5G8 32
  33. 33. 33
  34. 34. Build a relationship Not just their names, but what they focus on, their areas of expertise Work with their manager to make knowledge capture a part of the support team’s goals 34
  35. 35. Look for types of tickets: ”How do I…”, “I want to...”, “I’ve look at the documentation but...” 35
  36. 36. Support ticketing systems support categories; you might need to customize this and add Documentation, as a category or a separate tag Have anything assigned to Documentation (or tagged) automatically send you a notification (or even assign it to you) 36
  37. 37. 37
  38. 38. What’s the level of expertise across customers? What vocabulary do they use? Does this match your terminology, or do you need to change to increase understanding? Remember that support speaks with customers every day 38
  39. 39. Look for the number of Documentation or Question tickets coming in Are there a lot? Is there a trend? New vs. Experienced customers? 39
  40. 40. Do they have a knowledge base? Mine it! Better yet, build ONE source of truth! https://www.flickr.com/photos/multnomahcountylibrary 40
  41. 41. Don’t underestimate them; they communicate with customers much more frequently than you do! Give them credit Show them their information is being used in the documentation, give them a sense of ownership 41
  42. 42. Don’t give them a huge style guide to follow Overcome the fear of the blank page Helps organize their thoughts Ensures consistency Customers see familiar organization 42
  43. 43. 43
  44. 44. Make them valued reviewers and documentarian partners 44
  45. 45. Look for change: number and type of “documentation” and “question” tickets Are the questions getting more complex, more frequent? 45
  46. 46. Your customers don’t care about your company structure Silos don’t help you or your customers https://flic.kr/p/4vhAFD 46
  47. 47. Build a culture of information sharing You want people feeding information to you, not having to play detective every day https://flic.kr/p/a9tDjq 47
  48. 48. The more we do this, the better you can prioritize your tasks and deliver docs that really help your customers Use the input from support to set the documentation priorities and build a roadmap for the docs This will change your priorities This will make more work for you You are a product owner; your product is documentation https://flic.kr/p/debvm 48
  49. 49. This is the goal: better, more concise docs that meet customer needs This is how we prioritize our tasks and make our work worthwhile. Because we don’t want to just move the needle… 49
  50. 50. https://flic.kr/p/4PTZpe 50
  51. 51. 51

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