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Can good documentation reduce tech support?

Can good documentation reduce tech support?

  • When human resources are stretched thin but the pile of tech-support requests is thick, "job aids" can really come to your rescue.

    Have you found that providing good information and documentation have helped your staffers complete important office tasks with a minimal amount of hand-holding? Or have you found that you spend a lot of time helping users?

    What have been your experiences and do you think that creating job aids would help?

    In this TechSoup article, Reduce Tech-Support Requests with Cheat Sheets, instructional design professionals offer 15 tips for creating effective job aids.
  • Yes, yes, yes, and a resounding YES! Cheat sheets rock. (Good article, BTW)

    Also, knowledge base functionality in help desk ticketing software is an absolutely MUST nowadays.

    For new things, I have a "see one, do one, teach one" philosophy. I'll have a user watch me do something, then they'll have to do it the next time, and then after that, they have to teach as many other users how to do that one thing (whether it be in Word, Excel, printing, etc)

    I also extend this to techs that I work with. I'll show them how to, say, recover files from a dead hard drive or remove spyware manually with various tools. After that, they're flying solo. And after that, I refer newbies to these people.

    In each of the two cases (users and fellow techs), I will often ask one of the people to make some screenshots of what I did. I'll often edit these up (for clarity) and then file them away on whatever document management solution they use (e.g. Sharepoint).
  • I'm going to disagree with point 8 on this, "8. Use Catchy or Playful Titles." You first need to think about how your users will be accessing help documents. Will the documents reside on a shared drive in your office? Will they be part of a large set of documents that are searchable on your intranet or extranet? Will they be sent via email and live in your users inbox or hard drive? If the answer to any of these is, "Yes," then you should give a descriptive title for search purposes.

    For example, if all your job aids are on a shared drive your folders might look like: job aids/excel. If a user browses in here, or tries to search, a title like "Meet me at the corner of A and 25th" forces them to open the doc to see what it is about. A title like "How to use pivot tables" makes life much easier for your users. If Google Enterprise is right, workers spend 25% of their time looking for knowledge they or their company already has on their servers. Admins should do all they can to reduce this time.
  • 8. Use Catchy or Playful Titles.

    Actually, I agree that point 8 isn't very helpful.

    Use regular labels and headings, and then have your users use something like Google Desktop search or Copernic to quickly search for certain keywords inside these docs. If you rely on something like Sharepoint, look into solutions like Coveo to help index the docs.

    This, in my opinion, is FAR superior to funky titles that don't make sense.
  • I totally agree with the idea of cheat sheets. I use these all the time, and not just for other users. It's a great way to remind myself how to do things that I only do once a month, once a quarter, etc.
    Great topic :wink2;
  • Yes they can. We use job aids related to specific spftware and I have noticed as the "IT" person here (loosely named, since I am the office "jack of all trades"), that requests for assistance diminish in proportion to the effectiveness of the aids. In addition, job aids empower the end-user to do more of their OWN maintenance.