Increase product documentation usage by simplifying complexity

January 17, 2018

Have you been excited to use an app only to give up after the first few seconds because you can’t figure out how it works? How about delaying getting an insurance policy because you can’t understand it? Have you ever visited a product website to reconfirm your decision to buy but left rather confused?

The problem in complexity

While these examples refer more to consumer products, the same situation happens, sometimes even more, in customers’ experience with product documentation. That even with its availability, customers still often complain about difficulty in accessing product documentation, hence not effectively finding answers on their own.

Product documentation should be a strategic asset—not only to support after sales, but also to attract and engage customers. However, companies find it hard to tap into this potential when they have complex-to-operate products coupled with legacy structured and unstructured content that is static and scattered all over the place. In other words, product documentation that is marred with complexity.

Customers prefer simplicity

Complexity is not good for business, simplicity is. In fact, the Siegel+Gale report, called Global Simplicity Brand Index 2015, states that the world’s simplest brands have beaten the average global stock index by 214% since 2009. Moreover, 69% of customers are more likely to recommend a brand because it provides simpler experiences and communications. More than half of the surveyed customers are also willing to pay more for simpler experiences.

Asked about what role does simplicity play in delivering on its promise of access to information, Google CMO Lorraine Twohill shared, “People are generally fearful of tech—it can be very complex… We think a lot about how we reduce friction and reduce pain for users. All the complexity can be behind the scenes, but the user experience should be simple. We need to get people what they’re looking for, fast, and simplicity is a core part of our promise.” This is what product documentation should be.

How to simplify complexity

Product documentation is the middleman. Externally, it creates the connection between you and your customers. Internally, it streamlines communication across your organization. Product documentation should be the common platform that effortlessly provides the answers people are looking for.

Here are ways to simplify complexity and increase the usage of your product documentation by making it more accessible and personalized:

  1. Put it in one place. By easily tagging and indexing your content written in Flare, DITA, XML, Office, or any other formats, you can leverage the power of structured content so that users consistently get accurate, complete information. A rapid one-click publication of both new and updated content can also keep your users engaged and updated.
  2. Make it searchable. Ensure that your product documentation is automatically indexed to search engines, so that users can find the authorized information they want via Google, and not just through your company website, in any device. Also make sure that users can effortless search across all content, so that they can quickly get the information they need—and you can just as rapidly make a positive impression.
  3. Make it dynamic. Introduce live filtering and search result previews. You can also give users the option of an automated and faceted search for a solution before opening a support case, which supports case deflection and reduces time-to-resolution.
  4. Make it interactive. Allow technical writers, subject matter experts (SME), and other authorized stakeholders to add comments, tables, or images into documents, as well as leave comments and debate changes before changes are implemented. Putting up feedback and sharing tools and features can improve documentation process and allow easy follow ups with SME’s and customers’ feedback.

When designing or overhauling your product documentation, you must put your customers in mind and create a portal that makes sense to their journey. Reduce their difficulty by minimizing or eliminating complexity in their quest for answers. Provide simplicity and you win customers.

At Zoomin, our mission is to leverage your product content to ensure success throughout the customer journey. From your documentation portal to your social community, from web search to connected devices, with Zoomin your content will always be there for the people who need it: your customers.

Zoomin Software