“Mr. Service Engineer , did I buy this car?  Can you help me identify my model please?”
 
I can very much relate to the scene played out in this cartoon. The owner’s manual of my car is a paperback, about an inch thick which I store in the glove box should I have to deal with any malfunction, bug, or surprise the beast may throw at me. However to its great credit, in the three years since it entered my world, my car has never given me any opportunity to open the hood other than to throw the odd resident cat out. And while I have had my share of flat tires, I shudder to imagine a situation where I may be stuck with an inoperative car and this accompanying “fix-it-all” book.
 
To begin with, this manual has a description of  every make and model of my vehicle that has been manufactured across the world, requiring me to sift through many pages to find the car I purchased. Furthermore, there is a bewildering array of different steering wheels, switches, bells, whistles and their respective models and I am still struggling to determine whether my car has an engine with an intelligent head or if it has computer-controlled lamps in the tail – it shouldn’t be this difficult.
 
Now some may say that I don’t need to worry about this and that I should simply keep the customer care number at hand. Good suggestion, however Murphy’s law suggests that unfortunate events such as a car breakdown on a cold, dark, rainy night will  always happen in an area having poor mobile connectivity. For this reason, among others, I need to be able to quickly refer to a repair manual to help me try to address the situation on my own. As a safety-conscious car owner and driver who likes to be prepared should something go awry with my car, I want to be empowerd with information that is current, accurate, and specific to my vehicle. 
 
I must confess that as a Content Management Services professional, I am aware of the challenges faced by automobile manufacturers when it comes to managing the maintenance and operational documentation content they provide with their vehicles. These manufacturers have to manage the cost of providing not only an owner/operator’s manual, but also a maintenance and service manual, training manuals and a catalog of parts for every type of vehicle they manufacture and sell. They also have to bear the costs of providing regular updates of the maintenance documents to the vehicle servicing agencies – all this while keeping today’s modern, social media active, highly demanding and tech –savvy customers happy.
 
There should certainly be a way that vehicle manufacturers can connect directly with their customers with effective content and provide them reliable technical assistance as well as the right messaging on their product. The good news is that  there is indeed such a way which not only delivers technical and advisory content but can also deliver messages on sensitive issues such as vehicle recalls or periodic mandatory vehicle maintenance that is often done at the customer’s expense.
 

Enabling a user-friendly car manual

Most of today’s automobiles are computer controlled, highly sophisticated, and come with dashboard touch screen displays which control the vehicle entertainment system. These are ideal platforms for displaying customized vehicle manuals with information specific to each car along with service and repair details. And while this is possible from a vehicle technology standpoint, many manufacturers aren’t equipped with the teams and tools to actually prepare the content and ensure it’s correct, customized, and distributed to the specific make, model and serial number of the vehicle. This is why more and more car manufacturers are turning to content management service providers like Capgemini that can provide a large global team of technical writers  who specialize in producing world class quality technical manuals. 
 
If the manufacturer of my vehicle had a way of providing me information specific to my car that I could access online, on my mobile phone, as well as on my dashboard, I would certainly feel better equipped to deal with a malfunction – even if on a stormy night in a remote area – wouldn’t you?