Most companies understand the value that creating a help guide full of useful support articles brings, but hosting a branded support community is still commonly thought of as a “nice to have” rather than a necessity.
There are many surprising benefits to hosting a branded support community. Here are just a few of the ways owning your community can have a positive impact on customer satisfaction, product innovation, and your company’s bottom line.
Leverage the best ideas no matter where they come from—be it customers, agents, or product experts
Communities are great places for customers to ask questions and share ideas around complex topics that are best answered not just by the company, but by peers in their industry. This kind of crowdsourced support is particularly valuable as it can involve a variety of different perspectives, from those who are doing interesting things with your product to new customers who are just getting started.
The diverse information, experiences, and perspectives shared by this audience can help users discover solutions that may not have seemed obvious at first. Communities are about as customer-centric as support can be, giving customers an engaging venue for sharing their experiences with one another, and with your company.
Zendesk customer Wrike found that crowdsourced support from their community contained invaluable data for their support and product teams. By paying attention to and evaluating the conversations that happen in their community, they’ve gained insight into the product development their customers want to see. Accordingly, they improved their product roadmap based on that feedback. By owning your own community, you can more easily pull insights and engage with your customers about their feedback.
Build better content with the community’s help
Your users will let you know if an article isn’t helpful or doesn’t fully answer their question—they’re likely to come back to the community and tell you. This is actually a great opportunity to use their feedback to improve upon your existing content. By monitoring the community and hearing their concerns and issues, you can enhance existing documentation to create a better customer experience for them.
Support teams can also leverage community members to generate content. At Zendesk, we invite regular contributors to write and publish their own “Tips and Tricks” on topics that they’re experts in. This allows them to gain recognition in the community while building out the support documentation you offer.
Here are a few examples of Tips and Tricks found in the Zendesk Community:
- Embed Videos in Help Center Articles with Two Easy Steps by Wes Drury
- Tip: How to set a reminder on a ticket by Colin Piper
- Up-spec your CSAT with Mr. Smiley and Mr. Sad! By Andrew J
- How to change the banner image of your Zendesk Help Center for each language by Trapta
- Creating, Flagging, and Publishing with Knowledge Capture Oh My! By Daniel Cooper
Create a lasting resource that can answer questions for many customers at once
When users or agents answer questions in a support community, they help to create a user-generated knowledge base full of information that can help others. This ability to reach many users at once can be particularly helpful when dealing with emerging issues, new features, or product updates, as customers will often have lots of feedback or similar questions. Particularly savvy companies will take great responses to frequently asked questions and integrate those answers into their official knowledge base.
Zendesk customer Coursera noted that their community forums do some of the heavy lifting for their support team. Michael Robichaud, Coursera’s Manager of Support Products, said, “The forums have provided a transparent, open place where people can discuss issues or ask questions about the product and use the community as a resource rather than rely on 1-to-1 support, which can sometimes take longer.”
Know what your customers are saying, and make sure they’re getting good information
Let’s be honest, if customers want to talk about your product online, they’ll find somewhere to do it. They’ll often turn to social media or third-party forums, which can be a breeding ground for slanted or bad advice. They may also have conversations that you probably want to know about in places that are harder to discover.
By providing a forum for your customers to have these discussions, you can see what they’re saying and actively moderate it to ensure the correct information is being shared and responded to. Customers will appreciate the company’s participation in these discussions, and it can set the right tone for others to follow.
Easily direct the community towards help resources
If your company offers help resources like a knowledge base or help articles, the community can be a great place to share them in context. Your customers’ questions or discussions can be directed towards the appropriate resources, via links or by sharing the content itself, to provide the answers they’re looking for. It’s a great chance to familiarize customers with your available self-service support and receive feedback on how effective it is.
As an added bonus: when your self-service support gains prominence, it’s SEO value increases. This means your help articles and community discussions become easier for customers to search for on Google. Support teams can take advantage of this by linking out help articles within community threads and contributing to engaging discussions with helpful solutions.
These are just a few of the many benefits of hosting a branded community can create for your company. We invite you to visit the Zendesk Community to ask any questions you have about this blog or other aspects of community management or how to build your own branded support community.