How do you know if the content that you take so much time and effort to create is meeting its needs? Well, one of the ways is to conduct a survey. The survey helps an organization to achieve its goal.
In this article, I will share my experience about the journey from conception to execution of the user survey to improve the usability of TIBCO documentation. The entire process involved strategic planning, inter-departmental coordination, learning a new tool, and a lot of patience.
The Need for Documentation Surveys
At TIBCO, the support team regularly conducts customer satisfaction surveys (CSAT). Some years back, the CSAT survey used to ask customers a few questions about documentation such as rating documentation, using the search functionality in the documentation, and accessing the product documentation. However, the feedback was always vague, with little or no takeaways, and eventually, this practice fizzled out.
After analyzing this response, we thought this is the best time to conduct a documentation survey and hear from our customers.
The main drawback of our previous documentation survey was the use of questions. The questions were very common, and we were not gaining anything new from them. Therefore, I first started off researching documentation questions and came up with a list of questionnaires.
The questionnaire went through multiple rounds of reviews. The technical communication managers and the senior editor from the team helped me to review the questionnaire. We discussed the following points while rephrasing questions to get more responses:
- Open-ended questions
- Short and crisp question wording
- A shorter length of questions
- Ordering of questions
We decided to first send the survey to internal users (support, pre-sales, and professional services group), and then to external users (customers).
Before rolling out the survey to the targeted audience, I held the survey pretesting with some of the people to verify everything works fine.
Active Products and Customers
I gathered a list of customers of the active products by following the criteria set by our organization.
Survey Invitation to Customers
The IT team created a separate email ID to send the invitation to complete a survey to the customer’s email address. The email format was very short and clear.
- In the first phase, I circulated the survey with the Support and Pre-Sales teams. These teams use the documentation all the time and are exposed to customers’ perception of the documentation, and also perhaps its shortcomings.
- In the second phase, I sent the survey to the professional services group.
I stored the survey results of the first and second phases on our internal websites. We also discussed results during technical communication meetings.
- The third and last phase of the survey was to send the survey to customers. Initially, I followed the email approach, which was later changed to a survey link on our documentation website.
- Conduct periodic reviews of survey results at the end of each quarter.
- Promptly follow-up on negative surveys and address any immediate gaps or issues highlighted in the negative survey.
- During support meetings, we mention the survey process and the importance of feedback to us. This helps to encourage the customer to submit surveys in the future.
Challenges and Solutions
Availability of staff and facilities
Conducting a documentation survey involved inter-departmental coordination. Some people were late respondents to emails and some needed reminders to respond.
Kept track of all emails and history of communication to send reminders.
Learning a new tool
Initially, I created a questionnaire by using our internal tool. The tool had some drawbacks.
Took help from another department who created a survey form and later integrated it onto our documentation website.
Survey roll out to customers
Sending a survey email to all customers was challenging. Additionally, some restrictions were imposed by GDPR when sending emails to customers.
Added a survey link on our documentation website.
Survey data sets have a lot to offer to the documentation team. Writers and managers are taking advantage of this opportunity to analyze the survey data to strengthen TIBCO documentation.