Customer publishing that sucks

The Washington Post runs a story about a type of publishing at which most companies nearly always fail: user manuals. Why do they have to be so bad? Why do we not read them? What are the hidden costs of their failure?


Providing alternatives to manuals is one way companies believe they can differentiate themselves from their competitors. That’s one reason Gateway started an online service and hands-on training sessions. “It benefits us and the user,” said Gateway spokesman Greg Lund. “If we can make them happy, they’ll want to come back and buy from us again when they’re ready to buy another computer.”

And that’s just fine with customers like Battaglia.

“Teach us as much as you can,” he told the trainer. He laughed and then quickly added: “Well, teach us as much as we can retain.”

And guess what: The owner’s manual was free; the course cost $99.