It’s no mystery that communities and customer support go hand-in-hand. In fact, support is one of the primary factors for a company to invest in a community in the first place. And it makes sense too. Communities can become the hub for people to ask questions, share knowledge, learn from other use cases, and most importantly, get connected to other members who are using the same product. Support communities can be the middle ground between external or virtual agents like help docs, video guides, etc., and direct customer support from company representatives. Why? Because the former, external agents, are not always contextual, and customer support agents aren’t always available.
Customer support is a raging concern today and also a deciding factor for a lot of companies when it comes to loyalty and long-term partnerships. Matter of fact -
This doesn’t eliminate the need for a dedicated support team, instead, this is an opportunity to go hand-in-hand and tremendously improve your approach towards customer support and success altogether.
When a user goes through the funnel, there are countless touchpoints and nudges that eventually do the trick. When you have a community, a lot of these touchpoints don’t depend on you anymore. Most community managers would agree that a community can be considered successful when it no longer needs the host. If you’re able to facilitate many-to-many connections and remove all dependencies on your team, that is when your support community becomes truly sustainable.
Zendesk is a customer success giant and its community works very closely with the customer success and sales teams to ensure the best possible customer relations. Nicole Saunders, the Head of Community at Zendesk, has spoken to us about how she runs some of the community programs focused on driving organic support in the community.
One of the most successful community programs Nicole has spearheaded at Zendesk has been the community moderator program which is essentially where they go looking for some of the most active product users who are great at answering questions and solving problems. After they’ve identified them, it’s time to nurture them through simple efforts like giving them swag, official titles, priority calls with the internal product team, etc. But as the team later came to realize that the real value was in a private Slack community for these members where they started answering each other’s questions.
So, people would come in with problems saying “Hey, I’ve solved 90% of this problem but can anyone help out with the rest?”. What motivated people in the community was being able to solve other people’s problems and soon they started building knowledge bases and training guides and solution banks on their own. It was like magic.
To achieve what Zendesk’s community was able to achieve, you have to take things off the ground yourself. Because to be able to identify active members, there have to be active members in the community. You have to be the one to do the heavy lifting in the beginning before things start to scale. Constantly monitoring community engagement, staying on top of everything, providing best-in-class product support, and listening to your community - these are things that you cannot slip up on if you want to build a thriving, self-supporting, product community. You have to be a step ahead; you have to lead by example.
One of the very important things to pay attention to is being able to provide support to your community as quickly as possible, and as effectively as possible. But it’s hard to stay on top of everything as a community manager when you have hundreds of things to take care of as well.
But with hundreds of messages being posted in the community, it can be very overwhelming (not to forget, time-consuming) to go through every message manually and respond to them. In fact, this can even make you more susceptible to missing key questions or support opportunities in the community.
Threado’s support feature lets you filter out posts in the community as per your priorities allowing you to get to important messages faster. This way, you can directly filter out questions posted in the community all at once and directly respond to them from the dashboard.
You can also make use of AI-based filters -
You can also get to important messages by setting up alerts in your internal Slack community. Both you and your team can get notified when someone posts a question in the community.
For example: You can get notified as soon as someone posts a question in the community. Here’s what the workflow would look like -
Not only from a support perspective but also from an educational perspective, having a go-to knowledge hub for everything related to your product is a great way to encourage better support. This most typically includes a help center or documentation of articles that serve as a detailed guide to make the most of your product.
You can also create video guides that are more comprehensive and more personalized. Make sure to keep these guides as precise and concise as possible such as to be respectful of people’s time. Your goal should be to offer value as easily as possible. This is what people appreciate the most. A good example is to create a bank or playlist of these videos and keep sharing it with your community to reinforce the relevance and efficacy of your product.
It’s only after you can see organic engagement in the community that it makes sense to structure a community program the goal of which is to create a sustainable flywheel that is powered by crowdsourcing support. Also, constantly resurfacing the idea that your community exists for a reason, which is some capacity has to align with business objectives or goals, keeps you grounded in the idea of collaborations. Interacting with teams across your organization and leveraging the community to align all of them together to the fundamental goals is a surefire way to improve not just customer engagement but also transparency within.
So consider having events in collaboration with your customer success and sales teams as an integrated part of community building. Promote your events together and let all of the product users come together to have open discussions. Consider starting user groups that are not just based on members’ location but also on their interests or knowledge. These are some ways to facilitate growth in your support community through small yet effective initiatives.