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-Other ASP reports  >  Reports  >  A Guide to Better Tech Notes


A Guide to Better Tech Notes
Publication date: July 2009

Executive summary

Tech notes should be the heart and soul of a great Web support site. Yet painfully often, users encounter a tangle of hard-to-understand, poorly maintained knowledgebase documents that fail to solve their problems—and may even discourage users from ever coming back to the site. In fact, many knowledgebases were originally written for internal use by support reps, not customers, and hardly anyone ever seems to ask, “Is this approach really working for us on the Web?”

When support managers do take a hard look at their knowledgebases, they often spot deep problems. The growing popularity of the Knowledge-Centered Support (KCS) methodology, for instance, suggests that many companies are willing to undergo a virtual knowledgebase brain transplant to find a better way to deliver support knowledge. There’s also widespread recognition that many users learn better from illustrations and videos than from traditional text instructions. Community forums are rapidly creating huge repositories of loosely-organized knowledge outside the structure of a company’s own knowledgebase. And perhaps most important, the traditional “break-fix” focus of tech support content no longer seems adequate in a Web-dominated world; in fact, traffic metrics and feedback from customers often suggest that users place far higher value on how to succeed with a technology product than how to deal with an occasional technical glitch.

In short, the world of support knowledge is changing—sometimes in profound ways, sometimes in much more modest fashion.

What are real-world support managers doing these days to respond to new trends in knowledge delivery? To explore this question, we invited ASP members and friends to share their thoughts on creating “better tech notes”—a deliberately open-ended request to encourage outside-the-box thinking.

Here are the topics they discussed:
  • Tech Note Templates
  • Finding an Appropriate Writing Style
  • Streamlining the Editing Process
  • Building an FAQ
  • Search Strategies
  • Metrics & Incentives

Copies of the survey are free to ASP members in the members-only area.

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