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Monday, April 30, 2018


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Have you ever had a ‘game over’ experience, where you’re searching for an answer on a self-help website, and nothing seems to answer your questions?

What do you do— search again?  Browse page after page of results?  Self-help site visits sometimes result in ‘game over’: the information needed doesn’t appear, and users can’t figure out what search words or topics to use to find the answer to their questions.

Search tools excel in finding information that has inherent context—unique search terms, popular topics, and/or a specific product need. They are less capable of helping users define their issue, determine options, or interact to hone in on the best answer to a question.

However there IS an environment that is focused and optimized for this very activity—support communities.

Community-driven support leverages conversation threads to help users define and iterate on their issue, often with passionate customers or product experts guiding them along. The interactions on communities become knowledge threads themselves that subsequent users can then navigate to confirm common situations and find the best answers to their needs.

For power users, communities become where customers hang out, converse and compare best practices—and also provide useful feedback on how a product could be improved or extended.

By merging communities with authored expert knowledge, great support communities employ the best of both worlds: rich context of customer questions and interactions with verified and concise answers, and recommendations from product experts in a company.

In fact, knowledge-driven community support is becoming a must-have for many organizations. Many major support organizations, such as Apple, use communities as the primary way in which users can get support.

Communities: Where The Action Is

Organizations that employ healthy community support environments see far more benefits than just ‘call deflection’ for the contact center. Research from the Consortium for Service Innovation indicates that in many support organizations, the number of questions and issues customers have far exceeds what they might call or search for in self-help. In fact it could be as high as 30x call traffic!

Many customers don’t want to go through support queueing, hold times, escalations, etc., if they can interact with other product experts quickly and effectively.

Consortium for Service Innovation_JChmaj blog_April 2018.docx

“Funnel to the Cloud” example – Consortium for Service Innovation, 2018

The primary insight here is that customers often have a lot more questions, issues and thoughts about a product or service than the support organization will ever see. Organizations that don’t employ communities miss the opportunity to interact with these customers, build loyalty, and also learn more about how to improve their products and services.

Communities provide access to other customers who are often themselves product experts and may know as much (or more) than many support specialists. Furthermore, community participants tend to have the passion and focus for a company’s products and services to help guide customers in how best to use them and get value.

This ‘value-added’ type of interaction is what customers are truly looking for in a support interaction—not something bounded by hold times or the expertise of the particular support agent one happens to get connected with. The ‘opt in’ nature of community support is inherently proactive, engaged, and focused on achieving product value.

It’s where the action is!

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