5 Ways Technical Writers Can Get – and Stay – in the Driver’s Seat of the Customer Experience Bus
The response to our recent article “Long Live Technical Writing” has been, in a word, remarkable.
Yes, we hoped that our message would resonate with technical writers who are fed up with being told – incorrectly by people who don’t know what they’re talking about -- that their profession is headed for the dustbin of history. However, we didn’t expect that the feedback would be so passionate and emotional. I guess we all need a shoulder to lean on and a pat on the back every now and then. Zoomin’s roots run deep in the TechPubs world, and we’re honored to stand behind -- and stand up -- for the technical writing profession.
As we emphasized in the article, the growing importance of customer experience means that technical writing’s best days are ahead. And with this to inspire us, here are five ways technical writers like you can get -- and stay -- in the driver’s seat on the customer experience bus:
Your colleagues respect you as a technical writer. But that doesn’t necessarily mean they understand and appreciate the vital role you play in terms of attracting, converting and keeping customers. To enlighten them, we invite you to share this Infographic that maps out how product content – and hence, the contributions by and your TechPubs colleagues -- impacts every stage of the customer journey.
Before creating your next asset -- whether it’s a workflow, user guide, FAQ, policy manual, or anything else -- take a step back and gather psychographic and demographic data about who you’re writing for, what their mindset is, what problems they want to solve, and what goals they want to achieve (if you don’t know where to find this stuff, start with marketing). The idea is to integrate these insights into your document, because on the customer experience landscape, relevance is the most influential factor.
If you’re like most technical writers, then you have little interest in leading others for a straightforward reason: you value autonomy and independence, and generally believe that people should lead themselves. It’s more efficient, it’s simpler, and there are far fewer status meetings!
However, as customer experience becomes more important, you may find it necessary to develop your leadership skills, so that you can wield more influence across the organization. Not necessarily because you want to (because you probably don’t), but because you objectively and rationally realize that you have to. It’s not about you and TechPubs anymore. The long-term survival of your company depends on your willingness and ability to help set the agenda, craft the vision, and lead the way.
For years – or maybe decades – you’ve seen sales, marketing, IT, finance and other teams get their hands on advanced software to help them do more with less. And all the while, you and your TechPubs colleagues have been saddled with a disparate set of ad hoc tools that haven’t been “leading edge” for an eternity. Guess what? That time is over!
By the year 2020, Walker Information predicts that customer experience is expected to surpass both price and product as the top brand differentiator. That means you have the justification to overhaul your ecosystem, and get the advanced product content publishing platform you’ve needed for years. However, if your CEO, CFO, or anyone else who holds the purse strings still need some convincing (old habits die hard), we invite you to send them this article on why a multi-touchpoint publishing system is smart and necessary investment.
Work towards changing the paradigm in your company so that everyone realizes they have a role to play in creating great content. No, this doesn’t mean that people in sales or customer service must learn about topic-based authoring, or understand how to conduct interviews with SMEs. But yes, it does mean that product content is no longer something exclusively “owned” by TechPubs. In the customer experience era, there’s plenty of room on the bus, and everyone has to be along for the ride -- even if it just means knowing how to route internal/external customer feedback to technical writers in an efficient, organized and timely way.
The Bottom Line
Make no mistake: the future of technical writing is bright and the best is yet to come. Technical writers who embrace and overcome the challenges that lie ahead will reap professional and personal rewards -- because rather than being expendable or extinct, they will be valued and respected as essential specialists with a license to drive the customer experience bus.