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Getting users to RTFM

dtinsleydtinsley CanadaPosts: 1 ✭✭
edited September 2014 via Email in Technical Writing and Communications
I am after some opinions from fellow tech writers. We produce fairly complex spatial measurement systems that require a considerable understanding of the technology before they can be used in any meaningful way. My tech support colleagues continually get calls from customers for which the response is RTFM. The manuals do contain all the information needed, but it seems the customers would rather pick up the phone to tech support. We have been brainstorming ways of making it less intimidating for the customer to find information in the manuals. We deliver pdf, fully indexed, cross referenced and with a comprehensive logical TOC.

One idea the tech support folk had was to incorporate some kind of "landing page" on the pdf with a "What do you want to do" kind of thing with links to the appropriate section. To my way of thinking we already have that in the TOC and this would just introduce yet another layer of information that would be ignored.

So, after all the preamble my question is this: What successful methods have you implemented to persuade the user to search for the information in the manuals?

David (who never reads manuals unless it is to critique them!)
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