Documentation as a Support Channel

The technical communication profession collectively peers through a window of opportunity.

I work at the intersection of technical communication and customer service. My digital strategy tasks focus on the efficient delivery of effective content. So when I see someone who truly understands how valuable quality content can be to a customer, I jump for joy.

Mark Fidelman, the SVP of Marketing at MindTouch, is one such person. Most of what I’ve seen from Mark makes me say, “YES!” But, this time, I’m actually dancing too. In his recent presentation at Gilbane, Mark shared the history of documentation, leading right up to the present pain points. Mark explained how “Documentation becomes support when it’s part of a range of services that provide user assistance for a product or service.” He then walks through a history (through Cave Paintings, Papyrus and the Printing Press) of ways a good “How To” topic has solved a support problem for the users of that day. I think it tells the story beautifully, and I bet you’ll agree. Click here to view the slide deck in a new window: Game Changing Support Communities

There is much to learn from what Mark shared, and from the current market trends:

  1. Text-based technical support channels are gaining share from voice-based channels each year
  2. Web-based self-service support is a key piece of text-based support (alongside social, email and chat)
  3. Technical documentation content is the backbone of web-based self-service support
  4. What you’ve ALREADY written can be supporting your customers profoundly, if you get it TO them

If you are a technical communication professional, you have an incredible opportunity to infuse value into your brand. Your content can solve customer problems, as long as it’s delivered to them WHERE

I encourage you to take the thoughts Mark shares and begin to socialize how much is
. When thought-leaders set their minds on what matters, results will align accordingly.

6 Responses to “Documentation as a Support Channel”

  1. Excellent post, Tristan! A great reminder that the principles of good communication that our profession holds dear — clarity, precision, consistency, and the right terms and tone for the target audience — can be some of the strongest customer support tools of all. I’m logging on to Twitter now, so I can retweet this one! Regards, Lori

  2. Very kind of you, Lori! I appreciate your support getting this message out there.

    We are the best writers in most organizations and customers increasingly value clearly written answers. That’s why our value proposition (and window of opportunity) is at a peak level.

    We will see it done.


  3. Tristan, thanks so much for highlighting the presentation. I hope this is the beginning of a much longer discussion.


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