Remember when Kim Jong Il died, and we all became reacquainted with what life was like in North Korea? Remember that nighttime satellite picture that showed the North nearly entirely dark and the South glimmering with vibrant light?
Well if you’re still supporting your customers with static product documents like PDFs, the analogy would be that you’re keeping your product help and the customer on the wrong side of the DMZ. However, unlike a despotic regime, you don’t have secret police, product commissars, an Army and thousands of miles of barbed wire to keep your customer from defecting because your product help is keeping them from succeeding and flourishing with it. (If you’re daydreaming about how great that would be right now…take a break to play some on-line Risk, and come back later) They’re free to seek happiness and success with a company and a product that gives them every opportunity to do that.
Let’s take a closer look behind the Iron Support Curtain and what do we see. An army of outsourced support agents armed with the same array of aging PDFs and static HTML pages you’re looking at online, some are organized under product hierarchies and just as many that aren’t. No real search capabilities and no customer feedback mechanisms. Just like life in North Korea…here’s what we we’re going give you, take it or leave it, and keep quiet because we really don’t care.
Now let’s take a look at the more democratic side of product help. Oh my…it’s a whole new world. There’s a highly organized and socially enabled help site that I can search and offers me only the most current and highly relevant answers to my questions, and there’s a whole community of subject matter experts and expert users contributing their knowledge and expertise, and look…there’s points of engagement, where I can interact with the company and others to help me when I need more help. It’s a land of product opportunity!
If you’re still using PDFs and static web pages to support your product it’s time to revel and declare “Ich bin ein MindToucher!” and rally around the cry “Mr. Support (or Ms. Support)…tear down this wall!!!!”
Ok, I know I’m mixing metaphors, but the real point is that by releasing your knowledge from their static gulags and democratizing your product documents and knowledge base assets, you’re giving them new life and opening up awesome new possibilities for you, your products and your customer.