Help your users to help themselves

Options

Our years in the community realm have taught us that customers really want the option to help themselves. It's a big deal for their overall experience. I mean, a whopping 84% of folks prefer to try and sort things out on their own first, and a solid 79% expect that self-help option.

Having an easy-to-find self-service option, like when you Google stuff (that's where most people start their problem-solving journey), can seriously boost customer happiness. If you offer self-help, almost 77% of people will look at your company in a positive light.

But here's the catch – it has be done right 🤓

What organizations really need to focus on is making the customer journey smoother. It's all about making sure that customer interactions match up with what they're expecting. To make things super efficient and keep customers happy, there should be a clear path for them to follow.

Instead of just pushing everyone to create support tickets or call for help, let them help themselves. Let them learn, share their experiences, vote on what works best, and create new stuff to help others. Only when all else fails should you resort to creating tickets – that's should be the last resort for supporting your customers.

Your community should be like the ultimate bridge in your organization. It connects the dots and makes a positive impact in so many different parts of your company.

Now, let's talk about the future of the community-focused customer journey!

Support: The best part about having a community is that your support team can have their own little space for FAQs and a knowledge base. Members and moderators can keep adding to that knowledge base as more questions pop up. That's how content gets created and shared. If there's a tricky question that nobody can answer, it can turn into a support ticket, and your support team can swoop in and save the day. This takes some of the pressure off your support team and lets them focus on more complex stuff.

Success: For your customer success team, the community is like the ultimate success measuring stick. They can use it to connect with customers in a meaningful and measurable way. They can get ideas and best practices that they can then share with clients. Clients can share how they use your product or service, and customer success managers can pass that knowledge along to other clients. Your community members are basically creating the content your customer success team needs.

Sales: Your sales team can also benefit from the community. You can have discussions within the community that help your sales team answer questions and assist people who are thinking about upgrading their plans. But let's be clear, it's not about turning this into a sales channel; it's more like a place to help potential customers with their research and give them an easy way to reach out when they're ready.

Product: Your product team can get some solid support from the community too. Members will share any bugs or issues they run into, and those get sent to the product team. It's a much smoother way of handling customer feedback. Plus, ideation helps your product team see which products your customers really want, so they're not just shooting in the dark. They get a well-educated system for product development. Members also share how they're using your products, giving your product team valuable insights.

Marketing: The marketing team can really cash in on the community. They can find content, case studies, and potential brand ambassadors within the community. When members share content, especially positive case studies and reviews, your marketing team can share that in other channels. And when there's negative feedback, the marketing team can deal with it through the community and have access to important customer data for their responses. They can also spot super users or brand advocates within the community and bring them into the marketing fold in a more organized way.

HR: Just like marketing, HR teams can use community metrics to spot potential future employees. You've got a clear history and metrics on how members use the community and contribute. Community members can be a hidden source of passionate staff members in the making.

So, in a nutshell, putting your community right at the start of the customer journey has tons of benefits: efficient use of your staff, more organizational knowledge, sales opportunities, better product feedback, lead capture, improved hiring practices – it's a win-win across the board. Your customers get a top-notch self-service option, and you can direct them to the best 'treatment' for their issues. It's a win-win for everyone!

This post was originally published in 2022 but has been revised and updated from its previous edition to ensure accuracy and relevance.

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