Community and Customer Support teams have the same goal — to keep members and customers happy.
Both provide human interaction, engage in conversation, and provide support — even though the kind of support may differ. So, it is not surprising that Community-Led Customer Support can elevate customer service and vastly improve customer experience.
“Throughout my career, my personal approach has been to think holistically about support and approach it with a community mindset,” says Healthie’s Customer Support Manager Heather Merrick.
“Zooming out to the macro level and observing how users (or members) are interacting with not only the product but also with the entire brand and community as a whole, can provide meaningful context to daily one-on-one support interactions and strengthen a Support team’s approach overall.”
“Support provides answers to unlock understandings, provide successful coaching, and fix broken things,” says Commsor’s Customer Support Manager Danny Pneuman. “Conversations between community members often surface and address those very same conversations.”
Having an active customer community means that your customers are constantly sharing discoveries they’ve made about (or problems they’ve encountered with) your product or service. These conversations can be turned into support content or a solutions archive.
“Any support team has the goal of decreasing tickets and upping the success of a community's use of a product or service. At Commsor, having The Community Club has created a library of searchable responses and information for our customers to tap into. It also helps the tone of the conversation about an issue to remain as positive as possible,” says Danny.
The Community team can help by flagging these conversations so that when a question comes up within the community, members can refer to these past conversations for quick answers.
Engaging your customers in a community discussion about your product or service can help Customer Support gauge customer satisfaction and experience early on — identifying issues before they turn into cases.
“Support can always benefit from internal insight related to new features or product changes, as well as anything that’s trending within the community — good or bad — as they’re often the first to hear about anything negative that community members are feeling,” says Heather.
The ability to give the Support team a heads up about major issues that might increase ticket volume is always much appreciated too, she adds. “Giving the Support team as much context and notice as possible about anything user-facing will allow them to maintain excellent customer service.”
Having your customer in an active community comes with a plethora of benefits. One of these is a strong sense of belonging through sharing common interests with other customers.
The Healthie community is a great example. The group is designed to be a welcoming community of nutrition and wellness professionals using the Healthie platform to launch, build and grow their businesses.
Their forum not only provides an archive of customer experiences, but members joining can expect to meet other health entrepreneurs to bounce ideas off one another, gain referrals, share your websites and blogs, get peer-to-peer support — creating relationships (and even friendships) with other customers.
Customer advocates will sell your product faster than any marketing or sales team could dream of.
Having your best customers as active members in your community can evolve them into true customer advocates who will want to start conversation about your product or services and provide peer-to-peer support to newer customers.
How do you turn your customers into advocates? By providing excellent customer service through your community.
When customers have a history of their issues being resolved quickly, feel a sense of belonging through your community, and actively engage with various aspects of your product or service, you can expect them to sing your praises to whoever will listen.
Here is how to measure the impact community can have on support.
In general, case deflection means avoiding the creation of a support case or ticket. Having an active community that your customers are a part of can give them access to peer-to-peer support through past conversations about issues they may be experiencing. The archive can turn into a repository of info about your product that your customers can access, reducing the number of tickets created and increasing the number of cases that are deflected.
Time resolution is a metric in customer support that measures how long it takes between when a customer logs a complaint to when their issue is marked as resolved.
When your customer is a part of your community, they often give valuable feedback on their user experience, which Support teams can tap into for insights and learnings about the most common issues. So by the time a customer logs a ticket about a certain issue, Support may already have a ready solution and can respond within minutes — cutting the overall resolution time.
When Support receives a customer complaint, their goal is to resolve the issue. When they can’t provide adequate support or issues aren’t resolved at all, customers may be reluctant to use your service or product in the future.
A good way to measure the impact of community on this is to use the equation:
solved tickets / received tickets x 100 = resolution rate.
Assessing if this score is higher for customers who are active members of the community vs. customers who aren't is a great way to see the tangible impact of having a customer community.
Commsor’s Chief Community Officer, Alex Angel shares ways Customer Support teams can collaborate with Community teams more effectively.
“One of the best first steps to take is to get a better understanding of what the responsibilities and expectations are for each team so everyone is aligned and on the same page. At companies where the community is primarily one of support or a customer community, these lines may be especially blurred, so it’s important to get that potential misalignment out of the way as soon as possible.
Once you’ve taken the time to understand roles and responsibilities in general, it’s important to know what each team’s goals or OKRs are. These are certainly related to team responsibilities, but are more nuanced and targeted, and are a perfect way for Community teams to figure out the best ways to support the Support team and collaborate most effectively within the community.”
“This is where close partnership comes into play. Community and Support teams can work together where: Community Managers note commonly asked questions and flag that to Support. If the questions are tied to a need for education, they can work together to craft appropriate messaging that the CMs can send to the community.
If there are cases where more in-depth support is needed, create an escalation process to raise with CS. It’s important that CMs don’t get bogged down in trying to resolve product issues, payment needs, or account help, but they should know who to turn to when those things come up in the community.
“Understand resource limitations and how they may impact each team’s goals. If CMs notice they’re taking on more and more Support work, make note of what the impact is on community goals and OKRs and see what opportunities there are to bridge that work into more community-focused responsibilities or to help Support advocate for additional resources for their team.”
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