Importance of Documentation in Troubleshooting

importance of documentation

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“When all else fails, read the documentation.”

The idea of creating detailed and well-written documentation seems like a drag to most people. That’s especially if you are not ‘creatively inclined’. This may be true but not having proper and streamlined documentation, within the troubleshooting realm, can land you in serious trouble. Documentation is not trouble or a waste of time but rather saves trouble. Proper documentation fills in the missing information. It reduces usability issues and enables the non-technical customer service staff to appear knowledgeable on even technical troubleshooting matters.

Customers just love well-informed and multi-skilled customer service. We cannot emphasize the importance of documentation in troubleshooting or any other customer service realm enough. Documentation is not a nice-to-have in troubleshooting, it is a must-have. You can use a tool to train your customer service staff on the importance of documentation. One such tool to use is interactive decision trees.

Documentation is comprehensive and up-to-date

Customer service is about focusing on customers’ wants and needs and dealing with them in the most efficient and fast manner. Lending a helping hand to customer service is a troubleshooting skill. These skills are best supported by the right attitude and up-to-date and detailed documentation. However, documentation can very easily and swiftly become outdated, superfluous, and irrelevant if not constantly updated and refined. Troubleshooting staff does not necessarily have to be the ones to write the documentation. However, the inputs would certainly come from them. It’s essential to empathize the importance of documentation, both technical and non-technical while providing training to customer service staff. You cannot imagine a customer service team without well-written, up-to-date, lucid, and comprehensive documentation.

Shoddy, unorganized, and badly written documentation would be as detrimental as the absence of any, especially in the troubleshooting realm. It’s obvious that the documentation provided to the troubleshooting staff is inaccurate and incomprehensible. They are likely to stop using it. They may not even report the same due to the worry of having to rewrite it. As documents stop being used, they decrease in quality and as a result, become stale and useless. In fact, any troubleshooting expert worth their salt will tell you the importance of documentation in troubleshooting. Also, how it is inconceivable to not have it or worse still to have a useless set of guidelines. Relying solely on memory and previous experience in troubleshooting is simply asking for ‘trouble’.

So what are the reasons that, despite the importance of documentation in troubleshooting, people continue to neglect it or run away from it?

Documentation acts as a backup

The belief that if it was done in the past, it can be done in the same way in the future. It was easy then and didn’t require documentation and it will be easy now and will not require documentary support. This is probably the most ridiculous belief. Streamlined and updated documentation not only provides insights into past problems but also a guide to preventing any recurrences of those same problems. Documentation works as a backup and a support system for even the newest member of the team. Rather than hearing ten different versions from team members, this person can easily refer to this ‘bible’ and get answers to some perplexing problems.

It helps customer service provide better services

As technology becomes more widespread and complicated, customers will demand that proper documentation exists both in self-help troubleshooting and when they decide to use the customer service team. Like all aspects of customer service, customers want the very best in troubleshooting documentation. Lack of it shows incompetence and service lapse. Imagine telling your customer that you cannot help them because there is no documentation! It is a sure recipe for disaster. It’s enough to get a customer from being mildly irritated to rage bull, angry.

It’s hard to ignore documentation

The assumption that the help is available online also prevents the lazybones to ignore documentation. Of course, troubleshooting documents are available on the internet but are most unusable, given that they probably won’t address the pertinent problem. Most internet troubleshooting guides are complicated. They have a heavy dose of technical jargon. That is scary enough to keep even the most brave-hearted away. Customers are not technical wizards and you shouldn’t expect them to understand it either. The same applies to the non-technical customer service staff. Also, the online documentation may not have troubleshooting for their particular industry either.

Documentation should be easy to understand

Troubleshooting documentation should have an explanation of the technical jargon. Anyone reading it can understand what to do in case of a particular problem. For example, you cannot expect a customer to hear disabled audio on the internet or if it’s not working. The customer would need a different set of guidelines or documentation for that – if it exists!

Documentation provides troubleshooting steps

Proper documentation lists every stage in the process from start to end. As we discussed, troubleshooting is a logical and step-by-step process that you must follow every time. If problems and customers are not the same, then how can even the best troubleshooting staff survive without proper documentation? It is the life support for troubleshooting.

Troubleshooting documentation is more often than not, lengthy and can be tiring to read. Anyone referring to such a document for a particular problem and its resolution should not have to go through the entire documentation to find it. A well-defined and crisply laid out index should be in place to make locating the area of interest easier. The index must also have some helpful words that describe in layman’s terms some of the tongue-twisting troubleshooting terminologies. A well-written and comprehensive document can be difficult to negotiate if the user cannot find what they are looking for.

It improves efficiency

Clearly worded documentation is important to improve efficiency. Even if memory fails under pressure, the troubleshooting staff can quickly recover from that by referring to the documentation. The customer will never need to know that the staff ‘ran short’ to start with. The end perception will be one of knowledge and efficiency. Happy staff and happier customers!

Documentation helps teams to work together

The importance of documentation in troubleshooting and other areas comes from the fact that it is a recording of a crucial and creative process. It focuses on problem resolution and problem prevention. Documentation helps members of the same or different teams work collaboratively on customer issues or internal troubleshooting issues for quicker resolutions. It provides a pathway for even a new member and customer to resolve problems.

Documentation provides valuable information

Documentation can be very inspiring and thought-provoking if written well. It provides invaluable and indispensable data that make the entire troubleshooting process and customer service more robust and sustainable. They pave the way for newer ways of thinking and innovative solutions. Well-maintained documentation can provide valuable information for the future and also remove problems and stumbling blocks for the present.

Documentation eliminates mistrust and doubt

Apart from troubleshooting, anything that requires documentation with a strong supporting document eliminates any shadow of doubt and mistrust. Robust documentation leaves no room for blame and provides clarity. For example, if a client connects for a troubleshooting issue, and is only verbally told of what is required to eliminate the problem, the customer may forget. They can do something invalid and create a bigger problem. The word of the customer service staff may not hold against the customers. However, with proper documentation, the customer service staff can ask the customer to go through the process from a particular page. This does not leave any absurdity or uncertainty.

Documentation builds trust and loyalty

As customers perceive the enhanced level of efficiency in troubleshooting within the customer service team, their trust and loyalty towards the company and its brand rise. The troubleshooting staff would have streamlined processes and documentation to thank for that. Well-written documentation leads to increased productivity. The staff has a genuine feeling of self-worth since they are dealing with happy customers. The importance of documentation must not be undermined. Every company that seeks sustainability must place enough importance on well-written and constantly updated documentation.

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