"Build it and they will come" is not a documentation strategy.
The cold, hard truth
The cold hard truth is that your users are not going to just show up at your documentation site when you create it. The fact is, documentation has been so bad for so long that users don't have faith in documentation's ability to solve their problems.
But you can change that
Don't wait for users to come to your documentation site. Push your documentation out to where your users need it. Once you do this and your users see how useful your documentation is they will begin to naturally go to your documentation site on their own.
The key is to use your documentation to answer user questions.
A school district in Southern California that we work with instituted a policy that support agents were no longer allowed to write lengthy email responses to customer questions. They had to either point to an article in their knowledge base or create a new article and send it out to the customer.
The results? A massive decrease in support requests, so much so that despite a 15% cutback in staff they were able to move their focus away from just handling support requests to improving the technology in their school district.
Here is a graphic of how this workflow would be implemented using our ScreenSteps and ScreenSteps Live products:
What you need to do
The key to start using your documentation in your communications with your customers. Don't just expect them to magically show up. The great thing is that as you start using your documentation in your regular communications you will see some big benefits:
- Your docs will get used
- You will create more docs
- You will spend less time answering the same questions over and over again
- It will be easier to keep your docs up-to-date since you are using them regularly
So start using your documentation as a communication channel. It will change the way you and your customers think about your documentation.