Tech companies understand that product documentation is necessary for their business and expend significant time and money in its production and maintenance. In a previous article, we saw that this spending is not a simple, unproductive expense but an investment that will deliver value at every stage of the product lifecycle.
Or at least, it should be. The main obstacle to organizations realizing the value of their technical content is inadequate delivery. Product documentation is mostly developed at a loss when it is offered to the user in the form of a one-size-fits-all document, as static documentation that doesn’t get updated, or as something inaccessible or impossible to find.
Dynamic Content Delivery helps companies achieve the return on their documentation investment by enabling doc usage that reduces costs and generates new revenues.
Achieving Content Value: The Delivery Catalyst
The value of technical documentation is realized through its usage across the product lifecycle, from helping the choice of and accelerating the implementation of a product, to supporting its daily use and maintenance, and facilitating its upgrade and repair.
Yet imagine a 1000-page manual stored at the back of a field service technician’s van. Or a PDF user guide that was shipped with a software product at installation and never subsequently updated. There is no doubt that in both cases the technical documentation will miss its target and will never be able to deliver any of its real value.
Technical documentation must surface at the precise time and moment of need, contextual to the product in use and the situation to achieve its value. Producing good content is essential, but delivering it effectively is where the value is realized.
The traditional means of delivering tech doc have had their day and their limitations are tightly linked to the cutting edge of existing technologies and solutions. Today, Content Delivery Platforms (CDPs) exist that are dedicated to creating content experiences that focus on the users and help realize the value of content.
Typically, CDPs specialized in technical documentation such as Fluid Topics collect all the documentation owned by an organization, no matter the initial source and format, unify it, and distribute relevant content to all digital channels, devices, and applications, in-context with the users’ needs and environment. These CDPs are connected in real-time to the sources of information and keep the documentation live and accurate for users.
These solutions are often the missing link to realizing the value of tech doc as they enable use cases where companies can deliver and clearly evaluate documentation performance.
Four Uses Cases That Deliver High Value
Dynamic Content Delivery unlocks the value of technical content in a variety of use cases. Here are four that are at the top of the list.
1. Enabling Customer Self-Service
Your technical documentation might be world-class but if it can’t be found and accessed when needed then it might as well not exist.
Professional users of technical products – your customers – prefer investigating product functionalities and solving issues by themselves. They demand accurate product documentation and 24/7 self-service access. Specifically, what they request is:
- exhaustivity of information and the assurance that, at any time, what they get is the most up-to-date documentation, and
- a good search capability that points them immediately to relevant content, for the version of the product they are using.
In other words, reliability and findability are key.
This is the experience that CDPs enable. Beyond the capacity to ingest the massive volume of existing documentation whatever the original format, including legacy Word or PDF documents, and transform it for digital channels, they also allow tech doc teams to publish content seamlessly to websites or documentation portals to ensure that the latest information is made available to the users as soon as its documented and validated.
Knowing that technical documentation for complex products is often backed by thousands of documents and millions of topics to cover all versions for each and every product, CDPs for tech content need to pay particular attention to content findability. The Fluid Topics search engine boosts the efficiency of these portals with advanced search capabilities powered by AI that ensure that users get relevant answers to their questions fast.
An effective documentation portal is often the primary channel users demand. But user autonomy is greatly improved through in-product help, too. For software solutions – but also for hardware and machines that embed software technologies – surfacing relevant tips, help, and instructions in the product itself at the moment of need is of tremendous value for product adoption and troubleshooting, reducing the need for vendor support.
Just after web portals, in-product content delivery is one of the most in-demand use cases, but the request for chatbots is also emerging in the B-to-B customer experience. Serving each digital touchpoint with the relevant content and encouraging interactivity is what CDPs finally make possible. Content is written once and delivered smartly to users in-context, on demand, and through their preferred channel.
The value created by modern content delivery here is multi-faceted.
At the customer level, efficient self-service improves customer satisfaction while also facilitating rapid product adoption and quick product implementation. Altogether, these smooth user experiences lift customer engagement and improve product stickiness, and result in lower churn rates and product upsells that a company can measure.
On the other side of the helpdesk, customer service teams also strongly benefit from efficiency in customer self-service as this translates into significant case deflection.
“We saw a drop in the number of service tickets of 34%”, says swissQPrint’s technical leader Johannes Müller, just a month after implementing their self-service documentation portal.
And it’s just the first step to an improved customer support efficiency.
2. Supporting the Support Team
Support agents revealed in a recent report the activities that took most of their time:
- Asking for customer information
- Searching for answers to customer questions in the company’s knowledge system.
- Writing summary notes of the call
- Requesting support from a manager
It’s clear that none of these are creating value for customers and only hurt productivity making the support agent’s work more challenging. There is tremendous value to be realized, then, in helping the people that help end users.
Providing support agents with easy, centralized access to all the product information they need is a must. Allowing them to search and query this knowledge hub directly from their preferred environment, that is, their usual helpdesk tool, is a distinct advantage for customer service teams. Allowing interactions with product information, such as sharing content with users directly from the helpdesk tool (no re-writing, not even executing a copy-paste), building personal manuals from the knowledge base, or providing feedback to the doc team, is a game changer.
Again, this is what CDPs offer to modern customer service teams. Not only does it result in greater comfort and ease for any agent to perform in their job and reduce the pain of long, tiring searches, but it also improves agents’ knowledge consistently. And of course, Dynamic Content Delivery provides significant efficiency gains to the whole service organization by reducing dramatically the time to resolution.
3. Optimizing Field Services
A 1000-page manual stored at the back of the van is neither the most reliable nor the most practical source of product information for field technicians. Beyond the fact that there is no guarantee that the manual is up to date, it’s even less likely that field technicians consistently carry all manuals for all the machines that they are called on to maintain and repair each day.
Field Services are transforming and are increasingly supported by digital tools that facilitate technician work. Technical documentation can be part of the solution. By bringing the relevant product information to the rugged tablet of a field technician on a production site for emergency intervention, with or without network connection, CDPs like Fluid Topics optimize the efficiency of Field Service organizations.
Powering mobility and availability under all circumstances and ensuring accuracy and freshness of the information are critical to lifting field service efficiency to the next level. Employees and organizations can measure the benefits in terms of fewer truck rolls, better first-time fix rates and improved uptime, one of the few metrics both service organizations and customers strongly value.
4. Increasing Product Visibility
Let’s complete this overview with a too often overlooked role of product documentation that merits closer attention. Tech content is a fantastic asset to improve the visibility of a product on the market: in the global competition between technical products that are manufactured or coded worldwide, exposing product documentation online to the potential buyers who screen the market is a strong differentiator.
CDPs make this possible in a snap. Collecting all or part of the product documentation and publishing it to a corporate website or documentation portal can be achieved seamlessly by CDPs like Fluid Topics. Updates and release notes can be automated and feed digital channels in sync with the release of new features, with no additional work required.
This is an incredibly efficient way to increase product visibility, website traffic, lead generation, and even prospect conversion rates, all with no additional marketing spend.
All that’s required is to leverage your existing documentation with dynamic content delivery.
Your technical documentation is a valuable asset that has the potential to generate some significant financial gains and reduce company costs all while changing your employee’s experience at work for the better. Don’t miss this opportunity and ruin the effort because of poor delivery – it’s time to embrace modern content services.