Marketing guru, Seth Godin recently had an extremely interesting blog post, "The posture of a communicator". It's a short post but a powerful one. I believe it gets to the heart of one of the biggest complaints people have with IT, namely, our poor communications. IT is well known for its speaking in acronyms, writing cryptic error messages, writing incomprehensible (and not very useful) user guides, and using "code words" rather than plain language. We often top it off with an arrogant attitude when people tell us they don't understand what we are saying.
Godin's first sentence gets right to the point.
"If you buy my product but don't read the instructions, that's not your fault, it's mine."
I'm sure there are a lot of people in IT that would disagree with that statement. You know the ones. They're the ones that complain about users not reading the manual and just wish they would "RTFM" (read the f*&%$#*$ manual).
Should our users read the manual? Do I wish the would read the manual? Absolutely! But the reality is they don't. As Godin states:
"It's really easy to insist that people read the friggin manual. It's really easy to blame the user/student/prospect/customer for not trying hard, for being too stupid to get it or for not caring enough to pay attention. Sometimes (often) that might even be a valid complaint. But it's not helpful."
The key phrase there for me is "But it's not helpful." That's correct, it's not helpful. As a service provider our job isn't to be "right" but to make sure the customer can use our product. So it doesn't matter if we are right about thinking they should read the manual since it doesn't help.