What Makes a Superhero? Doing what Others Can’t and/or Won’t

LavaCon 2012:  Case Studies and Roundtable Discussions track

Presenter: Corey Ganser, Customer Experience Manager, Mindtouch

Superhero supportCorey Ganser shows that technical communication nirvana is actually possible, since his Mindtouch customers practice it every day. His lively session covered the ways  customer support departments, technical writing teams, and product teams are coming together through a centralized documentation community. Real companies use the Mindtouch product to be superheros by saving money, increasing communication, and decreasing support calls/tickets. The case studies that Corey covered included coolOrange, Zuora, and SuccessFactors (an SAP company).

The concept behind the Mindtouch product is to provide a singular location for all your content to reside in – one  authoritative source. Help content is the source, and it can be accessed by social networks, products, ticketing, discussion forums, and chat. The major concept that teams need to understand is “documentation right now” versus “documentation right” – you need to look beyond your immediate goals for documentation. You need to look at the long-term, because documentation needs to be flexible.

Corey recommends several key areas for discussion when choosing to implement a solution like this: what are the main barriers to consolidating the efforts of help documentation across departments; how do you start an initiative like this in your company; and what fears do you have of introducing a concept like this.

For example,  coolOrange found they needed:

  • Integration with support ticketing
  • Easy to use interface for authoring
  • Ability to create templates for consistency of knowledge capture
  • System that wouldn’t requirement maintenance and upgrading by company (but by vendor)

coolOrange used Mindtouch’s solution as a central repository for content that integrated with Zendesk. The benefits of the implemented solution were decreased costs, increased quality of support, and a 17% drop in support tickets.

The question and answer portion of Corey’s session brought out  a lot of audience questions about implementation, particularly around and how Mindtouch hooks up to existing content and internal databases created and maintained with other products such as Madcap Flare and FrameMaker. The takeaway from the lively discussion is that if you are authoring outside Mindtouch, the best format to output your content for import is DITA.

Slideshare link:  http://www.slideshare.net/mindtouch/what-makes-a-superhero-doing-what-others-cant-andor-wont

Rachel Houghton

Rachel has been taking photos as a serious amateur since she got her first camera at the age of 16 - a Canon AE-1 Program. She has a Nikon D100, a Nikon D7000, and is anxiously awaiting the new (as yet unannounced) Nikon D400. She's a technical writer, specializing in software documentation and online help, with more than 14 years of technical communication experience. She is a former Secretary for the Society for Technical Communication (STC), past program chair of the STC Technical Communication Summit, and is actively involved in the STC Willamette Valley community and reviews books for the STC journal, Technical Communication. She enjoys photography and Photoshop. Find Rachel on Twitter @rjhoughton or view her photos on Flickr at http://www.flickr.com/photos/rhoughton.

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