TechWhirl: Technical Communication Recap for July 13, 2012

This week’s update on technical communication and the TechWhirl community is supported by Platinum sponsor Madcap & their Ultimate Communications Suite, MadPak |

A couple of threads currently running on the TechWhirl email discussion list point to the important connections between customer service and technical communication. Stuart Burnfield was looking for a Confluence forum for advanced users of the wiki platform, and we got a bit of background on discontinued community forums and current resources. Robert Lauriston commented “It’s unfortunate but there’s no good central user forum. As Sean alluded to they replaced it with, which is OK for one-shot support questions but doesn’t work well as a community hub.”  Customers become very active in communities these days, and when that community shuts down, it removes an enormous opportunity to interact with them.

Elizabeth Sprague’s thread on accounting language versus plain language, and Kevin the Editor-in-Chief’s discussion on documenting the job highlight the importance of identifying who all your customers are and determining your obligations to them. Perhaps the well-worn technical communication adage “know your audience” should be transformed and updated to “know your customers,” since in fact we have many customers for our content, both internal and external to the organization. And, the organization’s customer service strategy needs to address what the obligations to those customers are in order to define the processes and services to achieve its objectives.

During the rest of July we’ll take a look at a variety of aspects related to why you should “Meet your customers.”  We’re interested in your viewpoints on how closely integrated customer service and the various technical communication disciplines should be, what systems and processes technical communicators should be using or driving, and how we can truly hear the voice of the customer as we plan and produce technical content. Cruise on by this week’s technical communication poll on our roles in customer service. Then, feel free to start new thread on the email discussion list, comment on this post with your thoughts and ideas, or drop us a note about an article idea you’d like to help us pursue.  After all you are our customers, and we aim to please.


Have a great weekend

-The gang at TechWhirl


  Tech Writer This Week for July 13, 2012

This week our roundup includes some philosophical views on writing and technical communication, higher education, and getting started. Content Strategy enthusiasts can dive into some wide-ranging posts this week from evolution of the global brain to mastering content strategy and more. We also take a look at overhauling UIs, and some really cool tools in Google that go beyond Google docs and Gmail.

Prepare for a Challenging Content Management Swim

Alan Porter has an extensive background in technical communications, so I was thrilled when I learned his recently published book, The Content Pool, spoke to the exact topic I was struggling with at work, knowledge and content management and providing an ROI to senior executives. I was eager to get started, but I struggled with the book’s length and unfriendliness to someone on the job trying to get the gist and apply/implement it.

  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. 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. This week’s poll looks at the roles we can or do have in customer service.

  The Changing Landscape of Technical Communication: Tips and Tricks for Staying Relevant

If there’s one thing that all technical writers can agree on, it’s that we never always agree on anything. Agreed? Moving from that logical quagmire into another one: I think we can also all agree that this rapid rate of technological change is having a large impact on our professional lives. What kinds of technological change am I talking about? Mobility, speed and bandwidth and connectedness from the use of social media. Time to develop good strategies for adapting to technology and workplace changes.

 Technical Communication News

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