Video-based guides won't replace text manuals despite benefits

Video guides help people understand products and services better and retain instructions longer, but more resources needed to produce them means conventional manuals still have role to play, analyst says.
Written by Liau Yun Qing, Contributor

Companies are increasingly turning to video-based user guides as part of their customer support strategy, but these are meant to supplement and not replace text-based ones, one analyst points out.

According to Dao Thi Minh Thao, research associate for ICT practice Asia-Pacific at Frost & Sullivan, video guides have proved to be an effective extra avenue for users to learn how to use a company's products, and possess several benefits over a text-only manual.

For one, he noted that videos are better able to demonstrate to users how to use the product and customers will retain memory of the video instructions longer than conventional user guides. Also, even if the video is made in a foreign language, the user will still be able to understand the instructions given.

"Customers will be more interested in the products or service if they see a smart, short, and nice video about it," the analyst said. Thao pointed out that there various industries that are particularly suited to using videos for manuals, such as the food and automotive industries. These could be in the form of instructive videos on how to make Italian food or bake a certain type of pastry using foodstuff sold by the company, or self-fix tips for car owners so they need not send their cars in for repairs over the smallest issues, he elaborated.

The electronics industry could also tap on the format to demonstrate the use case and specifications of devices such as smartphones, laptops, cameras, and other household electronics, he added.

South Korean electronics company Samsung is one such company that produces its own video manuals. A Samsung spokesperson told ZDNet Asia that the company decided to include video guides because the call-in helpdesk had received a "considerable number of inquiries" for very simple instructions.

Seeing as customers tend to be reluctant to read text manuals, the company prepared simple visual aids to provide more interesting, easy-to-digest, and accurate information for them, he said. These can be more easily understood and accessed by users, which will reduce its helpdesk costs and increase customer satisfactions, he added.

Drawbacks hinder use
That said, the Samsung spokesperson acknowledged that these video manuals took more time and manpower to produce compared with the traditional text guides.

Thao added that these videos might not be easily viewed on smaller devices and, in such cases, a text manual might be the better choice for the user. Word-based guides also save time for people looking for specific information, he added.

"Customers might not have enough time to go through the whole video and manual instructions could actually give them [the information they seek] in a much smaller amount of time."

Customer relationship management (CRM) manager Nicole Nilar-Aye agreed. She said she prefers looking up information on products on online forums than to watch a video clip because she is not able to use keyword searches to get to the relevant part of the video to find out the specific information she is looking for.

As such, despite its benefits, video manuals are unlikely to completely replace the traditional user manual yet, the Frost & Sullivan analyst stated.

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