June 2014
By Corinna Melville

A business case for technical communication – facts & figures

There is much talk about the changing image of technical communication. Organizations are starting to recognize that providing relevant and valuable content to consumers can trigger sales. Technical communication is moving away from engineering and closer towards marketing and communications. Several renowned organizations have conducted eye-opening research into this change of perception. Here are a few examples.

Good product information encourages users to recommend product

In late 2012, provider of global information management solutions SDL released the survey report called Measuring the Importance of Product Content in Customer Experience Management. The report uncovers findings about the importance of product content and why interactive, contextually-aware, multimedia product information is a must-have in any customer engagement strategy.

The survey, which was conducted online among 1,000 adult consumers in the United States, demonstrates the impact that high-quality product information can have on the customer experience.

The majority of respondents agreed that high-quality product content

  • is essential to good customer service (82%),
  • makes it easier to solve service problems on their own (87%),
  • improves their impression of a product or brand (79%).
  • makes it more likely that they would recommend a product and brand (72%)
  • makes it more likely they would purchase additional products from the same manufacturer (79%)

The survey also revealed:

  • How product information is being used: The survey found that the majority of respondents (47%) use product information to learn more about a new product before they use it, while 42% use it to troubleshoot a problem. Only 11% of respondents use these materials to discover new product functions or features.
  • Which channels consumers trust most: 61% of respondents indicated that they trust the manufacturer’s website the most for product information – while only 22% of respondents turn to printed product manuals. The third most trusted source is user forums and wikis (13%), while only 5% of respondents indicated that video websites were their most trusted source for product information.
  • How consumers feel about user-generated content: When it comes to younger consumers (aged 18–24), content found on forums, news groups and wiki sites is a significant source of trusted product information. The survey found that 20% of users aged 18 – 24 cited forums and wiki sites as their most trusted source of product information, while a mere 5% chose this selection in the 55 – 64 age group.

You can view the full report at www.sdl.com/cxm-survey.

High-quality technical information is a decisive factor for purchase decision

IBM has been developing a technical communications body of knowledge with a focus on content as a business asset. The company runs a permanent survey on its website asking customers to evaluate the importance of high-quality technical information. The responses of 179 participants of this survey between 2010 and 2013 have been summarized in an article for the Technical Communication Magazine of the STC.

Respondents overwhelmingly agreed that high quality technical information is important or very important with regard to

  • the perception of the company (84.5%)
  • the satisfaction with the product or solution (93.3%)
  • the perception of the product quality (96.4%) and
  • the initial purchase decision (88.7%).

Vast majority researches online before buying

The trend of consumers searching for trustworthy and reliable information before making a purchase is also reflected in the Major Purchase Shopper Study conducted by the GE Capital Retail Bank, which was published in July 2013.

According to this study

  • 81% of consumers go online before heading out to the store (up 20% from the previous year).
  • Consumers spend an average of 79 days gathering information before making a major purchase.
  • 60% of consumers start their research with a search engine before heading to a specific website.
  • 66% of shoppers conducted their research on a PC or laptop at home and 15% conducted their research on a mobile device at home.
  • 79% of shoppers feel empowered by technology because it provides access to information.