Recently I read a discussion thread at a LinkedIn Tech Comm group in which Aaron, my CEO, claimed MindTouch didn’t support single sourcing. He was promptly contradicted by a MindTouch customer, Amanda Cross of ExactTarget, and prominent Tech Comm leader who just kicked off a guest blog series here at the MindTouch blog. Later on another MindTouch customer from EMC echoed Amanda’s call that they too use MindTouch for single sourcing.
When your company introduces a new product, or a familiar category of product with major new features, there’s a lot of internal excitement about its potential in the marketplace. You know your new product is the best, your beta testers are excited, your developers are psyched and your marketing department has identified the most common use cases for your product and are targeting prospective buyers through email, trade shows, social media and all the usual channels. You may even notice that your beta testers are signing on, there’s a buoyant increase in trial users and a flurry of lead generation activity. So far so good! Right?
Well maybe, but chances are you’re not closing as many opportunities as you were sure you would, and you’ve noticed the early passion for your product has waned. This is why you and your sales reps and your marketing folks are pinching the bridges of their noses and wondering why these prospects can’t see the beauty of the thing you’ve created.
I’m often asked by customers and prospective buyers of MindTouch how they can show or hide help and product documentation based on the user that views an article without having to create multiple versions of the documentation. Good news! This is easy with MindTouch.
There are a variety of user stories for this kind of functionality. In short, it’s either user/group/role based permissioning or URL based variations on content. In some scenarios it requires creating a master documentation, or base docs, that all other derivative docs inherit. Here are a couple that come up pretty often. These are the most common user stories we hear and address (in no particular order):
Providing top-notch customer service doesn’t have to involve lengthy back-and-forth calls with your users. It can be much easier. In fact, bad product documentation could be hurting your customer retention. Indeed your help and product documentation is a valuable customer relationship management (CRM) tool that you might be overlooking. Your documentation increases customer retention and turns your users into product experts whom would never dream of leaving your products. So, it’s more important than ever to seriously consider whether your product documentation is actually proving useful.
Recent studies concluded by Greenfield Online, Datamonitor, Ovum analysts and Genesys, concluded that companies in the United States lose about $83 billion annually in product abandonment, customer churn and defections due to customer support failures. Globally, across the 16 largest economies, the total loss to support failure was $338 billion annually. The main reason these losses continue is a lack of actionable insight to the consumers’ support expectations and the real customer experience with products. Companies using twenty year old static support architecture, commonly referred to as Help 1.0 environments, are virtually blind to their customers’ sense of product and support fulfillment and are considered by support industry experts to be particularly vulnerable to support failures.
Many companies operating these Help 1.0 environments today are managing their help documentation through CMS platforms like IXIAsoft, SDL TriSoft, SDL LiveContent, DocZone, Astoria, Componize and other DITA XML based products. Though these are powerful tools, and represent a significant investment in document and knowledgebase asset management, they have fallen short of their full ability to empower support leaders with insight because they’re typically tasked to publish to static Help 1.0 dead end publishing points like PDFs, CD-ROMs, and HTML.