Technical Communication Poll: Roles in Customer Service

In his 2002 textbook, Efraim Turban defined customer service very simply: “Customer service is a series of activities designed to enhance the level of customer satisfaction – that is, the feeling that a product or service has met the customer expectation.”  If you agree with this concept, then according to our draft definition of integrated technical communication, customer service and technical communication are inextricably intertwined.

Integrated technical communications (ITC*) is the coordination and integration of all technical communication processes, tools, functions, and sources within an organization to convey information and knowledge relevant to optimizing the users’ product experience

However, a trip through the Techwhirl discussion list archives, shows that technical writers in the last 20 years often complain of the difficulty in writing for audiences they never get to meet. In fact the discussions on contact with customers date back to 1993, and occur as recently as two weeks ago. In July, TechWhirl focuses on Meeting Your Customer, with articles that dive into customer experience, customer service and customer relationship management, and an eye towards defining how technical communication fits into the organization’s overall business and customer service objectives.

Much of the discussion on trends in technical communications takes place around activities and roles that have one foot in technical writing and one foot in customer service, so this week’s poll looks at the roles we can or do have in customer service.   We want to know if practicing technical communicators are actively involved in planning customer experience or service strategies, which would seem to be an excellent use of our particular skill sets. Or, do you have to ask for and wait passively for someone else, in sales, support or some other service-specific role to provide information on how customers interact with your products?  Do you fall into that unfortunate realm of never getting any customer feedback at all?

Your experiences and challenges can provide a great deal of useful fodder for our discussions and features on meeting your customers.  Please take a moment to vote in this week’s poll and then provide comments, or head over to the discussion list and start a new thread.

What role(s) do you play in the customer service strategy and practices in your organization?

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Turban, Efraim (2002). Electronic Commerce: A Managerial Perspective. Prentice Hall.