There is a perception that user documentation is barely used. Yes, it is true that customers don’t read these documents with the same excitement as they would, for example, read novels. It is even more telling that they don’t even read them, they simply scan through them. They act according to the user manual rule: “Open, find it, go back to work”. This means that after a quick scan of the document, they expect to find the information they need with minimal effort. Therefore, technical writers or other professionals in charge of creating an end-user documentation need to ensure good searchability and usefulness of the documents they create.
Good reputation means trust, respect and adherence from customers to a vendor. If customers aren’t responding your messaging, then you need to consider changing your approach to providing customer service.
By neglecting principal requirements, such as customer support products, owners can obtain the image of an untrusted vendor. This is so easy to become and almost impossible to get rid of, so make sure you save your reputation before it is too late.
There are four main reasons why bad documentation can spoil your reputation as a vendor:
1) Users have high expectations
Nowadays customers are quite demanding and critical. Yes, it is true that they want to be treated with the utmost importance in this customer-vendor relationship. As a result, they expect you to provide them with all the information they need to succeed and will want answers to any issues at the speed of lightning. Considering this expectation, you should understand that they will not hesitate to show discontentment and might simply go somewhere else when instructions are not clear or are poorly documented. Nobody wants to spend their time on something that has even a tiny flaw – they want everything ready and well-functioning.
2) Bad documentation means lack of professionalism
Everyone in the business world expects a professional attitude. Technical instructions with a large amount of steps, precise descriptions and annotated screenshots make people think you have spent time preparing them and, as a result, made an effort. This assumption alone makes your help guide feel trustworthy and of high quality. With this in mind, a customer may now be motivated to check the document more carefully and will eventually find what they need.
“If an end-user doesn’t find your manual professional, there’s nothing to stop them from thinking the same about your organization and product itself.”
If you neglect your customer support, you aren’t prioritising the most important aspect of your business. People simply don’t take such products seriously and won’t even bat an eyelid in their direction. Nobody wants to buy from irresponsible and careless vendors.
3) Documentation reflects the process of making a product
User documentation can tell a lot about the company, its culture and internal processes. Documentation requires effort and organisation, and if a user notices that a company has low quality documentation, he will doubt the quality of the product itself. If they are not capable of such a manageable task, how will they even manufacture a decent product?
4) Users judge by what they see
In reality, users tend to form their opinion about products based on the quality of their user documentation. One needs less than a minute to make a decision about the user document and therefore about the product. Many users never actually get as far as the user manual, so first impressions do matter. In order to help them meet their needs, you need to provide properly structured documentation which well received and helps form the best image for your company.
To put it simply, user documentation has a great impact on your success as a vendor, so make an effort to create high quality content. The main goal of documentation is usefulness. If you are creating something just for the sake of it, don’t waste valuable resources. Take these points into account and don’t turn a win-win situation into lose-lose.