As consumer electronics like TVs and smartphones become more complex, so have manuals that come with these products. When I open up a box and am confronted with a manual thick enough to prop up a table, I’m less likely to read it.
Hence the evolution of the quickstart guide, which is that really short leaflet that comes in the box that shows you how to plug the machine in and get started quickly, without having to pore over the regular technical manual. I love quickstart guides.
Quickstart guides don’t just exist in the world of consumer electronics, however.
Years ago, my colleague Garry Hamilton did something really revolutionary and wrote his own manual for a colour sorter he had been learning to operate. It has since expanded into the Top 5 Things You Need to Know When Installing this Type of Machine.
At the time, Garry thought he was just simplifying things in his own mind so that he could better instruct customers on how to use the equipment. We didn’t realize it at the time, but he was essentially creating his version of the modern quickstart guide.
As he wrote that manual, you can imagine how much he learned about the equipment and how much knowledge he can now pass on to the customer. In fact, his Top 5 list made it into the Cimbria manual that comes with the product.
When I work on a project, I often get the same questions — What are the dimensions? How much does it weigh? How much power does it take? How much air capacity do I require? There are various electrical connections/control questions as well.
Why wait for the phone to ring when you already know these questions will be asked? It prompted me to help create a quick reference guide for new equipment, telling people what they need to think about when thinking about purchasing one of these pieces of equipment.
It’s human nature to want to push the easy button, and as technology becomes more sophisticated, it’s crucial to simplify things for the user. When you do this, you develop a bond with that user — they trust you.
You establish yourself as more than just a salesperson or a technician — you show that you care about making things simple and ensuring clients don’t suffer from the No. 1 enemy of anyone who makes their living in this business — downtime.