Archive for the ‘customer care’ Category

My First Video Movie on Technical Writing

November 29, 2010

Xtranormal.com is a website that gives an option to convert your text into a movie, that too free of cost(ok, ok)..You just need to choose your actors(max 2) and type your script, the site will take care of camera shots and recording. I have created a movie on the multiple roles that Technical Writers play in a development environment. Here is the link:

http://www.xtranormal.com/watch/7859593

Note: You can embed the video directly by publishing it in YouTube.

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Have you ever read policy documents..?

August 27, 2010

Today morning I was quite busy in exploring an application. I got a phone call from an unknown number. I knew that it will be another credit card or Health Insurance representative’s call.  I always give a polite refusal and thank for their time in calling my number. Of course they are doing their job for their bread and butter.

This time also it was a Health Insurance plan from a Bank where I am paying my annual Insurance amount (ULIP). So no wonder they already had all my personal information (except my T-shirt size) and this guy very cleverly took my attention. Half mindedly I agreed to lend my ears to listen his available plans. But I didn’t agree to go ahead. I just convinced him that I will consider his plans after some months.

Un tired by my response, he asked me to give a look at their website to understand those health plans. I knew that site already, as twice a week I check out their site to see my Equity bonds value has grown or not. 🙂

This time, I clicked onother tab – Health Plans in their site.

After reading all those plans, I stopped for a while. Reason is quite simple. I saw an Insurance act 1938 Section 41 which goes as below:

Section 41 of Insurance Act 1938 states: No person shall allow or offer to allow, either directly or indirectly, as an inducement to any person to take out or renew or continue an insurance in respect of any kind of risk relating to lives or property in India, any rebate of the whole or part of the commission payable or any rebate of the premium shown on the policy, nor shall any person taking out or renewing or continuing a policy accept any rebate, except such rebates as may be allowed in accordance with the published prospectuses or tables of the insurer.

Non-Disclosure:

Section 45 of Insurance Act, 1938 states:

No Policy of life insurance effected before the commencement of this Act shall after the expiry of two years from the date of commencement of this Act and no policy of life insurance effected after the coming into force of this Act shall, after the expiry of two years from the date on which it was effected, be called in question by an insurer on the ground that a statement made in the proposal for insurance or in any report of a medical officer, or referee, or friend of the insured, or in any other document leading to the issue of the policy, was inaccurate or false, unless the insurer shows that such statement was on a material matter or suppressed facts which it was material to disclose and that it was fraudulently made by the policy-holder and that the policy holder knew at the time of making it that the statement was false or that it suppressed facts which it was material to disclose;

Provided that nothing in this section shall prevent the insurer from calling for proof of age at any time if he is entitled to do so, and no policy shall be deemed to be called in question merely because the terms of the policy are adjusted on subsequent proof that the age of the life insured was incorrectly stated in the proposal.

Can anyone understand these sections 41 and 45 on first read and explain it in plain English..?

Section 41 has 101 words in a single paragraph with only one full stop whereas section 45 has 227 words with one full stop.  

  • Why all policy documents (govt, health, Land, bank loans and so on) are not in plain language..?
  • Why does the writer (?) complicate the paragraphs this much..? First of all will he/she understand whatever he writes like this..?

In the UK, there is a separate campaign demanding all policy documents in plain English. I have already mentioned about that website in my previous post.

By the way, I am still trying to rephrase these sections 41 and 45. Anybody interested..? 🙂

Customer Feedback

August 5, 2010

 

Getting customers’ feedback is inevitable for any business. When it comes to documentation, majority of the clients (readers) are reluctant to give their feedback.  

Is that help system sounds jejune for them..? Are they really accessing it..?

Any Tech author will be curious to hear about his help system, Is that useful to the clients? Does the client get the answer for their queries..? Which page or topic is accessed by the people more frequently?  And so on.

One quick way to get the user access statistics is embedding a piece of HTML or JavaScript code in your site. Many online statistical tools are available like http://sitemeter.com or http://histats.com.

But if you want to get the feedback in a professional way, you can create a user feedback form or if you have RoboHelp Office Pro, you can use the logging and tracking feature – says Neil Perlin in his article on RoboHelp in the adobe.com.

He further adds that RoboHelp Office Pro has set of reports in seven categories of information:

  • Unanswered Questions: Questions that users’ type but to which they don’t find an answer.
  • Frequently Asked Questions: Questions that users ask most often about.
  • Areas Requiring Help: Areas that user ask questions about most often.
  • Frequently Viewed Content: Topics that users view most often.
  • Usage Statistics: Information about when users access the material. This might indicate a need for more server capacity in response to user complaints about slow access at 9 AM, for example.
  • Question Trends: The number of answered versus unanswered questions over time.
  • Errors: Various help system errors.

Quite interesting. By the way, recently I included “Rate this” widget in the site, just curious to hear from you.  🙂

Customer Experience Management (CEM)

July 29, 2010

 Scenario:

U.S.airways came across a unique problem. Though many of their customers logged in their site, checked for flights, fare etc didn’t proceed to book their tickets. In short, there is a huge dip in U.S.airways business. Web Metrics results were quite interesting.

Many of their customers entered the flight numbers wrongly, so the site was unable to process their request. Annoyed customers changed their mind and as a result no business for U.S.airways.

When they corrected this error (?), (maybe an auto-popup flight number field instead of a text box), U.S.airways found almost 100 percent rise in their business.

So unless you don’t know how your clients use your website, you can’t say that whatever you have developed is user-friendly. The feature which sounds simple for you may be annoying for the clients.

This is referred as Customer Experience Management (CEM). There are many vendors deploy CEM for their clients (of course not in free of cost).

I am planning to explore the web metrics and post few more in this space.

Dr.Explain

April 6, 2010

Sound knowledge in Help authoring tools is always on demand among technical writing industry. Dr.Explain is a Help authoring tool in the market. On March 30 2010, Dr.Explain team has released a version with new enhanced features.

Good news is that Dr.Explain team provides free copies to Technical authors, Site owners who are interested in writing a review on their product. Anything free is always welcome among people (esp for me) 🙂

Just now I received my license key. I am very eager to install Dr.Explain in my laptop and test my hands with this tool. Very soon I will update this post with my User Experience review on Dr.Explain.

Thanks to Tom Johnson to share this info in his space.

Anthropomorphism

March 9, 2010

 

No, I am not going to write about a zoology subject where my post heading may sound like that. When I checked with the WordWeb, anthropomorphism means the representation of objects (especially a god) as having human form or traits. To be more precise, anthropomorphism is attributing human characteristics or behavior to things that are not human.

Generally, technical writers have a great temptation to anthropomorphize to make difficult material easier for the reader to relate to.

An example:

If you click the Save As button, the database will store your data in the specified format.

This is fine. Some level of anthropomorphizing is acceptable. But let us consider the below phrase:

 If you click the Save As button, the database will behave as you requested.

This is a bit over-dosage of anthropomorphism.  🙂

Let us see one more example:

Correct Usage:

The speech recognition software accepts only the following words.

Incorrect Usage:

The speech recognition software is interested only in the following words.

When I came across Microsoft Style guide (MSTP), it says,

Sometimes the user interface or application programming interface of a feature is anthropomorphic. In dealing with wizards, assistants, guides, and other characters built into a program, you must let your professional judgment guide you in deciding how much the documentation should reinforce the anthropomorphism of the feature. But do not use words or phrases that convey intention or desire (such as refuses or wants or is interested in), intellect (thinks, knows, realizes), or emotion (likes).

Also, MSTP lists out some words to watch out for anthropomorphism. Here we go:

The following words may be acceptable in the right context, but they often signal inappropriate anthropomorphism. Some are appropriate only for programmers or information technology professionals. This list is not exhaustive. When in doubt, check your project style sheet.

  • answer
  • demand
  • realize
  • think
  • assume
  • interested in
  • recognize
  • understand
  • aware
  • know
  • refuse
  • want
  • behave
  • like
  • remember
  • decide
  • own
  • see

I believe now you have learned what anthropomorphism is and it’s spelling too (just like me)  🙂

Run Adobe RoboHelp X5 without activation

January 21, 2010

 

I am still managing with RoboHelp X5 for creating Online helps. But that is not the subject of this post. 🙂

Last month, when I was trying to update one of our help systems using RoboHelp, I got a pop-up asking me to activate the product.

Activation code Request

Of course I use a licensed product only. As mentioned in the above pop-up screen, first I tried to catch-up the Macromedia customer care by e-mail link available. I got the following failure notice after 36 hours:

Your message did not reach some or all of the intended recipients. Subject: Activation Code Request

The following recipient(s) cannot be reached: activation@ehelp.com on 12/12/2009 6:19 PM

Could not deliver the message in the time limit specified. Please retry or contact your administrator.

I really wonder what is the use of that E-mail button then… Just for a better UI purpose..? 🙂

Ok, leave it, and then I called my office technical operations people to call the Macromedia customer care number. Yes, I cannot make an ISD call on my own. Of course it’s our company policy you know.  🙂

I got a reply saying that the number mentioned in that pop-up is not reachable.

Then when I googled, I got this link from the adobe site. Remember adobe has bought the Macromedia long time back.

  1. Install RoboHelp X5.
  2. Install Patch X501 and X502.
  3. Download RoboHelp.exe and RoboHTML.exe and replace the installed versions with the downloaded versions. The installed versions are in <Install Directory of X5>/RoboHELP/RoboHelp.exe and <Install Directory of X5>/RoboHTML/RoboHTML.exe respectively.
  4. You now will be able to run Adobe RoboHelp X5 without any activation.

Note:  Download and save the patches X501 and X502 as well as exes’ in your system as mentioned in step 2 and step 3 respectively. Don’t run those patches and exes’ directly from the adobe site.

Follow the procedure and Install the patches exactly as mentioned. You will be able to run the RoboHelp X5 without any activation.  🙂


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