Adding value through technical communications

Those within technical communications have long argued that product documentation provides significant value in terms of customer satisfaction and ongoing savings in customer support and service.

A new investigation, by leading US business researchers The Aberdeen Group, gives strong support to this view, and those who tend to view documentation simply as a cost centre are likely to be losing out to competitors.

Aberdeen’s analysis of data gathered from 165 participating companies demonstrates that the contribution of good product documentation and technical communications to enterprise profitability is far more significant than many realise and, when leveraged effectively, stands to contribute as much as a 42% increase in customer satisfaction and an associated 45% increase in product revenue.

Aberdeen’s research found that as a result of their simultaneous focus on operational efficiency and documentation quality, Best-in-Class companies were able to realize significant customer-facing value through technical communications, including:

  • 41% decrease in volume of inbound calls to customer support
  • 42% decrease in time to resolution with customer support
  • 41% increase in customer satisfaction score

Aberdeen’s data clearly indicates that Best-in-Class performers have found the means to leverage technical communications to influence customers’ experiences with a marked impact on business profitability, and that whilst all too often regarded as a cost centre, technical communications and documentation are actually key profit generators.

The report identifies key factors used by the ‘Best-in-Class’ companies to maximise the performance of technical communications, such as:

  • Commit to reusing content
  • Measure the operational performance of technical communications
  • Capture customer feedback
  • Increase the personalization of documentation, customizing documentation to specific customer orders and needs
  • Engage and educate customers with rich media – for example, interactivity to enable the customer to control progress through training or documentation

Factors which I suspect this blog will be returning to in the future.

‘Technical Communications as a Profit Center’, David Houlihan, The Aberdeen Group, September 2009, Boston, Ma.

Free access to the report is available via this link to Technical Communications as a Profit Center (until 27 November 2009).

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