Customer Succcess, Product Marketing, Start-up, User Onboarding

4 Steps to Create the Most Helpful Customer Guide

If you are about to launch a new product or introduce the next generation of an existing product, this is for you.

First things first, your customer NEEDS a guide; a ‘how to use’ step-by-step manual. There is no skipping this step. By this point you are probably tired; you’ve done your research, you’ve come up with a product or service that you think is the best for your customer, you’ve invested hours upon hours on the product itself, that the need for a guide has completely eluded you.

But let me reiterate, your customer needs a guide if they are to successfully use the product you are about to launch. No one wants to feel like a fool – a ‘how to use’ manual helps customers navigate through your product and make the most of it. Even if you have scribbled down a few notes and strung together a guide, chances are, it may not be enough.

If you’re a service provider that says:

“They’ll get it. That’s enough explanation,” it’s time to rethink this attitude. You may have created the perfect product, but don’t forget the most important part of all of this is its user – your customer.

So here’s a guide to how to create the most helpful customer guide:


Step One – Don’t Assume.

Never assume that your manual, tutorial, or marketing collateral offers enough guidance before testing the material. At this point, you don’t know this for a fact.

As the adage goes, when you ASSUME, you make an A** out of U and ME

And I promise you, no one wants to feel like a fool.  Keep your options open and understand that you may need to make changes to your manual. The first step is to make no assumptions about the customer or their understanding of what you have to offer.


Step Two – Test everything with your audience.

It’s time to realize that the proof of the pudding is in the tasting.

Unless your customer ‘gets’ it, no matter how revolutionary your product is, it will not sell.

Gather a focus group or a sample audience, share your product or service guide with them, and most importantly, observe how they take to it. Listen to feedback. Be prepared to tweak your manual as per the feedback you receive. When testing your product manual or guide book, focus on the weakest link of your sample audience.

Remember, the performance of your product is going to be only as strong as the understanding of the weakest link. If you listen close enough, your audience will tell you how to make your manual better. They will tell you how much they understand the steps you have traced out, and what more they need from you.

They will tell you how much of it is user-friendly, and how much of it sounds like Latin. When you learn this insight, go back to the drawing board and alter your guide. Take no shortcuts, because there are none. At the end of the day, the best customer guides, communication material, or tutorials are the ones that have repeatedly been improved. No company creates the perfect consumer guide from the get-go, your first draft of the guide need not be perfect, but it has to be open to improvement.

At this stage, be open to edit and rewrite your manual as per the feedback you receive from the simplest of customers.


Step Three – Measure and Measure again.

You’ve been an amenable producer, you have listened and learned from customer evaluation.

Trusting the subjective feedback from customers is one thing but double-checking it with analytics is another.

Now it’s time to go back and compare customer feedback received via interviews, surveys, and focus groups, against your initial data. Make sure you have quantifiable data that qualify any course of action.

Remember what they say: “Measure twice. Cut once.” Don’t just depend on one set of data, validate your conclusions by cross-checking your new findings with your initial research. Gauge your market before you change anything.


Finally – Leave no customer behind

To reiterate, don’t ask your most skilled customers if they know how to navigate your tool store. Ask the simplest customer instead, if you have made yourself clear. The most helpful customer guide will be performing at its optimal only when the least skilled of your customers can follow the step-by-step guidance offered in it.

The bright side of investing all your effort in catering to this customer segment is that now you can rest assured that your product manual is close to supporting all of your customer segments than it was at the beginning. Now your customer manual caters to almost everyone.


About Maurice

Maurice Hofmann is a serial entrepreneur, marketing and digital marketing specialist, who is known for his innovative drive as well as his ability to lead cross functional teams to achieve the highest level of success. In his 20 year spanning career, he has experienced all aspects of marketing, working in various global roles spreading across TV production, Army ‘Psychological Operations, as an owner of a Brand Experience agency or as a leader of marketing departments for several software companies, start-ups and as a M

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