Generative AI Will Change the Way Customers Use Your Product Documentation

May 16, 2023
Ellie Swanson

Once upon a time, people got product information by digging through dusty piles of printed manuals, running a finger down the index or table of contents, and actually reading the text contained within. 

For today’s digital natives, that sounds like an old-fashioned fairy tale. Smartphones have put entire libraries’ worth of information at our fingertips, giving us bite-sized information hits whenever we want them. Leafing through physical books seems quaint but inconvenient: far better to click our way through a wonderland of easy-to-access digital information. 

Now, however, a new technological marvel threatens to make our digital reading habits look as oldfangled as a multivolume encyclopedia. I’m talking, of course, about generative AI. Using tools like ChatGPT, people no longer have to query search engines, browse websites, or study PDFs in order to learn about products. They just ask a question — and as if by magic, they get the answers they need. 

What GenAI means for you

Just like digitization, GenAI will change the way we read. We’ve already trained people to scroll and click instead of reaching for a printed manual. In a GenAI world, people who run into problems with products will default to asking an AI assistant for help, often via voice-operated interfaces, and will expect to get instant answers without ever reviewing documents or reading a word of the original source material. 

That transformation will bring benefits, eliminating friction and letting consumers easily troubleshoot problems without putting down the products they’re using. But it will also bring challenges. To succeed, organizations will need to learn to engage and serve “readers” who no longer read product documentation directly, but instead rely on AI tools to discover, digest, and relay information.

Adapting will be tough, because most organizations still rely on paper and digital manuals to capture and communicate important information. In a GenAI era, however, such documentation risks becoming the place where knowledge goes to die. It doesn’t matter how painstakingly your documentation is crafted: if it isn’t easily deliverable via AI interfaces, it will go unread.

Preparing for a GenAI world

To bridge the gap between existing knowledge resources and AI-addicted end-users, organizations will need to rethink the way they package and present product information. Fortunately, many organizations have already started laying the groundwork for this transformation.

Historically, organizations moved documentation online by taking paper manuals and converting them into crude, unstructured PDFs that replicated the dead-tree reading experience. Increasingly, though, engaging consumers via digital and mobile channels has demanded a new approach, with automated tools adding structure to PDFs, and making documentation intuitively discoverable and actionable via mobile-friendly digital portals. 

The transition to GenAI can be seen as an amplification of this trend. It will require documentation (and the data embedded within) to be given even more structure, and formatted in ways that large language models (LLMs) can easily process and accurately relay. That process, moreover, will have to happen rapidly and at scale, using automated and programmatic tools to prepare documentation of all kinds for “upload” into AI systems.

An accelerating trend

At Conveyer, we’ve long been at the forefront of helping businesses to adapt to the needs of the digital world, and turn product documentation into powerful tools for digital engagement. The AI-enabled tools and capabilities we’ve built along the way are more relevant than ever as organizations begin to prepare their documentation for the GenAI era. 

After all, the way customers relate to content has always been a moving target. Breakthroughs like ChatGPT only accelerate that trend — and make it all the more important to find partners who are committed to staying ahead of the curve, and capable of delivering the forward-looking solutions you need. So get in touch with Conveyer today — and let’s talk about how we can prepare your business for what lies ahead, and help you leverage GenAI as a powerful tool for customer engagement at scale.