Usable Instruction Manuals Matter! A Letter of Appreciation

Usability matters — even with instruction manuals!

We have all had the experience of puzzling over instruction manuals that leave out important details and just don’t “work” to help us fully assemble a product. Many companies seem to think that instruction manuals are an unimportant, inconsequential detail that doesn’t matter.

But in reality, they matter immensely. They lead to either a positive or negative initial experience with a product, and either serve or hinder the customer. That is not an inconsequential detail! Good instruction manuals are, in fact, a form of good marketing because they lead to a better experience with the product and more satisfied customers.

We often talk on this site about the importance of affirming people’s work. Well, that extends to companies that serve people well through good instruction manuals. Here is an example of one such letter written by our own Made to Flourish staff member, Luke Bobo:

As a father of two grown kids, 28 years old and 22 years old, I have had my share of assembling toys, bikes, playground sets, etc. Similarly, I have had my share of assembling furniture — TV/entertainment cabinets, desks, and grills.

Some of these assembling tasks have been pleasant; others have not been so pleasant. What is especially aggravating are instructions that are not clear. Also aggravating are instructions that promise a “1.5 hour job” but end up as a 3 hour job!

All that to say, how pleasantly surprised and glad I was to read the instructions to assemble our newly purchased 24″ Charcoal Grill (Vendor Stock No.: BC222). As I said, I have assembled quite a few things in my life and I simply want to say thank you to the writer of these instructions.

Once upon a time I wrote instruction manuals for small laser systems and I desperately endeavored to write instructions that were not confusing or vague. That is, I tried to write the instructions with the end-user or customer in mind. The writers of this instruction manual have achieved just that: they were clear and so easy to follow. The writer (or writers) of this instruction manual clearly had me, the end-user, in mind!

The company responded with a letter of appreciation in return:

Hello Luke,

We appreciate your taking the time to share your kind words about our manual.       

Knowing that you like our products is important, and we value the generous comments you have shared with us. Because we enjoy hearing your opinion, we will be sharing your feedback with the rest of the team. 

Again, thank you for letting us know that our efforts have been successful.

Again, thank you for contacting us.

Sincerely,

[Name of Company] Consumer Services

Topics: Excellence, Workplace Affirmations

About the Author

Luke Bobo serves as director of strategic partnerships at Made to Flourish. He worked for 15 years in the marketplace as an engineer before earning his M.Div. and Ph.D., eventually serving as the executive director of the Francis Schaeffer Institute at Covenant Seminary.