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Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Embarking on a Community Strategy Is like University Orientation

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For some of you this may resonate. Think about your experience preparing your son or daughter to go off to university. Does it conjure up feelings of anxiety or nervousness?

This week I took a couple of days off to attend university orientation for my youngest daughter. I was keenly aware of my daughter’s anxiety and my own as I am soon to be an “empty-nester.” I was able focus on the details and listen more intently to areas I wish I’d paid more attention to the first time around, when my eldest and I did this four years ago.

What stood out for me the most this time was how the university connected with us at an emotional level. I appreciated how they slowed the pace down, eased us into what to expect, and pointed us to the resources we would need to be successful on this new and exciting journey.

Interestingly enough, they kept using the word community in different contexts. Community was about the college town, the school culture, the science college, and the support systems available. Imagine that. My youngest daughter is about to be 2,000 miles away from home at university, and I’ve still got communities on the brain!

It made me think about how this orientation process parallels what companies go through when embarking on a community strategy. Freshly equipped with what I just experienced, let me offer some help to those considering a community strategy. I’ll do my best to ease you into it with these four points.

  1. What’s your objective (your major)—and why? Know the answers to these two questions or don’t start yet. In context of university, nobody commits to a biology degree for the sake of having a biology degree. The “why” is usually something bigger, such as being a marine biologist to save the whales. 

In the context of community, and less profound of course, your objective may be to create a customer support community, and your why is to improve service levels and reduce your support costs.

  1. Are you anxious or nervous about your decision to start a community? That’s a normal, healthy response to doing something new and impactful. Redirect that energy to focus your attention on doing the right things to achieve your objective and fulfill your why.
  1. Think you’re the only one going through this? You’re not. It might feel like it—but you’re not. There are hundreds like you embarking on this new journey with hundreds more in advanced stages of it. Get connected to get the encouragement and guidance you need.

You have access to a community of experts at Verint with many years of experience, community strategy partners, and customers like you in various stages of their journey willing to share their successes and lessons learned with you.

  1. What if something goes wrong and you need help? It’s not if, but when. The best way to be prepared is to know where helpful resources are before you need them. At the university orientation, there was plenty of time spent explaining how the support systems worked, such as academic advisory services, housing and dining, health and wellness, campus security and others. We received information on how to engage them in times of need and where to find more information.

In a community strategy context, know who the executive sponsor(s) are, the champions, the main objectives and metrics, and how to access important resources along the way. We recommend setting up a private, secure group in the community for the project team and sponsors to collaborate throughout the project.

So that’s it for now. As you consider embarking on a community strategy, consider these points and how newly enrolled university students get ready for their journey. At Verint, we’re committed to help you solidify and achieve your objectives, be part of a healthy community support system, and get what you need to be successful with community.

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