A month ago, I had the unexpected good fortune to be able to attend the Philadelphia appearance of singer Kenny Chesney, who brought with him Pat Greene, Sara Evans, Sugarland and Brooks & Dunn. When tickets originally went on sale, in March, they sold out in half an hour. However, a day before the concert, I heard on WXTU 92.5 FM radio that changes in the stage freed up additional seats, so I went to the Ticketmaster web site, bought and printed out my ticket.
Today, I am getting ready to go to Texas on a missions trip, along with 20 young people and adults from my church. As part of that preparation, I printed the boarding passes for several people in the group, after checking them (and myself) in online via the American Airlines web page.
Both events have several things in common, besides involving online purchases. They involve printing of a document—in one case a ticket, in the other a boarding pass. In both cases, the image to be printed contained color. The printer I used in both cases was a color printer. However, I wanted to conserve the color ink supplies in that printer, and wondered if printing in black-and-white would be OK. I believed it would be, because in both cases the document had a bar code, which presumably could be read regardless of how the rest of the document looked.
The concert ticket got me into the concert with no problem, and I'll find out in a few hours if the boarding pass will be OK, though I'm almost positive it will be. The point, though, is that in neither case was I told whether I HAD to use a color printer, or whether a black and white printer would be OK.
Think about these examples when you advise your customers over the phone, or create documentation for them. Try to see things from their point of view. In particular, try to anticipate questions they may have. and answer those questions in what you say or what you write. When you do so, you reassure the customer, and your advice carries more credibility. From a practical standpoint, you can reduce the number of calls you get, because your original advice was clear enough
For example, suppose you issue a bulletin asking users to download and install a certain update for Windows. Chances are you may have one or more users who knows enough to be dangerous. That user might think, "Well, I'm current in my virus definitions, so I don't need that update." To handle this type of user, you might think about including in your instructions the following statement: "Please note that this Windows update is required EVEN IF your virus definitions are current."
When you anticipate objections and questions from your customers, you make them more satisfied and can reduce your workload.
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Calvin Sun is an attorney who writes about technology and legal issues for TechRepublic.