Where’re the words?

We’ve all had bad experiences with instructions. Anyone who’s played with Lego or built an IKEA bookcase before knows even the clearest instruction manuals can be misunderstood. So you can imagine how frustrating it must be when the directions are unclear.

There is a great advertisement on television at the moment, and it’s worth following the link to see the full version. Don’t think for one minute that a chocolate bar can solve a problem (sometimes they go close), but the ad highlights how an item, in this case the ‘Katapult’ is rendered useless without quality directions.

Have you considered that poor instructions could diminish your brand, and subsequently the bottom line of your business? And how does this apply to the cleaning industry? We’ll come back to this a little later.

UK based company Translate Media, identified this very thing, and refers to it as ‘Product Rage’. They quote a study commissioned by the multi-national Xerox, which would indicate this is a global problem, and not endemic to the UK.

Translate Media writes:  We’ve all struggled with the manuals for a new piece of technology or flat-pack furniture, but there’s nothing quite like the sinking feeling that hits you when searching for the English language section of a manual only to find that it’s the section you’ve been looking at all along.

If cryptic clues get your blood boiling, and leave you needing a translation service in order to simply program the clock……don’t despair, the phenomena is more common than you think.

‘Product rage’ – the sense of frustration people feel when they are unable to understand instruction manuals – leads to arguments in homes throughout the UK.

According to a recent study commissioned by Xerox, one in 10 people are driven to household arguments when failing to fully comprehend instructions that accompany a new product. And this doesn’t just affect the sense of harmony at home, it can also threaten the safety of the objects the instructions are trying to describe.

Julie Hesselgrove, Group President, Xerox Communication and Marketing Services (CMS), said: “We have all been guilty of being exasperated when we don’t entirely understand something. However, it is the companies’ responsibility to ensure their customers have a range of tools to completely understand their new product.

“Having confusing instructions is like having a TV with a broken remote – yes you can still use the product, but it’s harder work, less enjoyable, you can’t use all the functionality, but you still paid full price.”

If one thing has been learned from this research, it is that customer relations can be greatly improved by providing comprehensible product instruction manuals.  And on a purely commercial consideration, a third of customers said they would be less likely to go back to a firm that they know includes incomplete instructions with their products.

This issue is particularly acute for consumers over the age of 55. Almost half (46%) said they consider the quality of product instructions when making a purchase.

Ms Hesselgrove adds: “Brands need to take note that customers are experiencing product rage and should be able to offer a combination of easy-to-follow material, online guides and videos that also appeal to all customers.

“Offering your customers the tools to understand your product in an interactive and interesting way makes a difference to brand loyalty and repeat business.

“Ignoring this will only affect their brand and bottom line.”

Let’s turn to the cleaning industry and remember, a product is just a product until you incorporate concise, easy to find and easy to follow directions. It then becomes a ‘solution’ to your odour and cleaning problems.

Biological cleaning products are a great example of a product that delivers outstanding results, when the directions are followed, and the applications observed.

Now, ask these questions:

  • Are your team members, or end users being handed products without clear, concise directions?
  • Are the people on your frontline able to achieve the maximum benefit from of a product, with all the facts at their fingertips?
  • Has a product been cast aside with the perception that it doesn’t work, when the real issue is that it has not been used in accordance with the directions?

The measure of a good supplier is its ability to deliver both products and solutions to meet your needs; to provide a support platform, and not just a product in a package and say: “Go for it.”

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