Customer Showcase December 2023: Genevieve from Smartsheet
Hey Vanilla Community!
My name is Genevieve. I'm based in the UK and I am one of the Community Managers for Smartsheet, a SAAS collaborative work management platform.
While our site is publicly crawlable, members wanting to post or react to posts need to sign in with Smartsheet (SSO login only) in order to participate. We're not yet on Layout Editor but hope to make this update THIS MONTH!
We started our Community in 2015, migrating to Vanilla in 2019, and as of today we have over 86,000 registered members. We've grown significantly in the last two years, in both membership and activity with nearly 19,000 posts shared last quarter alone while expanding opportunities for members to connect with one another. Beginning as a support only site, we now feature a mix of support Q&A content and engagement content (announcements, product ideas, events, social groups, networking, etc).
My role focuses on the support side of the business, but I collaborate with our fantastic Marketing team that work on engagement. They run the Customer Programs and Gamification I'll get into below.
The collaboration with Marketing is essential to the health of our Community; this year we levelled-up our Rank program and saw a direct impact (decrease) on the number of questions left over 24 hours without a response. Their work with our members has reduced our support moderator workload significantly!
Ranks & Rewards
We redefined our ranks, changed the naming system, and made noise about it with announcements. The top ranks receive tangible rewards:
- Private group for networking with their peers in the same rank
- Ability to create tags
- Discounted training courses
- Physical swag!
Any member can get to the highest rank based on points and activity, but this program rewards the top contributors who generate technically accurate responses and actively help others while exemplifying Smartsheet's values. Benefits include:
- Private group for networking with other Champions
- Advocacy opportunities
- Feedback channels directly to our Community team and the Product team
- Sneak peeks at updates to the forum
- And again… physical swag!
These members tend to be the ones highlighted in our Member Spotlights and are identified with an exclusive Badge.
Question of the Month
Every month we post a Question of the Month.
Anyone who participates receives a badge, and the three responses that receive the most reactions get an extra special Top Answer badge.
We had over 200 answers for November's question!
Why do this?
- Introduces members to the badge and point system
- Encourages "lurkers" to sign in and see how easy it is to post a comment or ask their question
- Creates a positive environment with the quantity of "Awesome" reactions
- Prompts discussions on topics our internal teams are interested in.
Browse all Badges
Since we migrated our Community, we had a lot of old, legacy badges that kept being requested when members navigated to our url/badges page. To solve for this, we've created our own custom page to host all our active badges. (Yes, we created this using a Smartsheet dashboard.)
We added this new URL to the Quick Links menu and in the text body of every badge for extra visibility.
- One easy place to view all active badges
- New members can easily see criteria for Community badges and it encourages them to get involved
- Domino effect: receiving one badge prompts the user to click on a link to see what else they can gain
- Old badges made less visible/accessible without removing them from profiles
My Favourite Pocket for Deflection
There aren't enough characters in a post to describe all of our pockets, so I will highlight my favourite one: a Category level pocket that drives answers to questions and increases our deflection rate.
In the side panel in each category we surface 3 unanswered questions from that same category.
This applies on all category pages, including when you're looking at a single post.
- Reduces clicks: it's easy for our top contributors to jump from answering one question to the next without needing to navigate to the "Unanswered" list.
- Content visibility: it encourages new members to share their knowledge if they see a question and recognize, "hey! I know the answer to that…"
The experience is different if you're a logged out user, a guest, landing on the site to look for answers.
For this role we have a mirrored pocket that shows the most recent 3 questions with accepted answers, specific to that category.
Since we're a publicly crawl-able site, a lot of our traffic comes from Google and lands on an individual post as the first entry point into Community. The goal here is to surface similar questions with confirmed solutions to make it as easy as possible for our customers to find accurate answers as they browse.
My Favourite API hack
As of this November, there's a NEW API endpoint to bump posts!
Why I'm so excited:
- We receive around 50 questions per day.
- The Unanswered Questions list is sorted newest to oldest, meaning the older a post gets, the less visibility it receives.
- Our top contributors answer questions from Page 1 and work their way down this list.
- This often results in new questions receiving fast responses and older questions becoming stale, as they're hidden on page 3 or 4.
With this new API endpoint, we can get an array of all Unanswered Questions, loop through this list to see if any are 2+ days old, and automatically bump those to the TOP of the list. This makes sure the oldest posts are seen first!
API tip for non-developers
Vanilla's back-end Dashboard makes the API quite easy to use, even if you're not a developer (I'm not!). Using the API is a great way to export data in a CSV file (check out Val's post about this for reference).
Here are two example calls I make regularly that you may find helpful for your own reporting. You can actually copy/paste the URLs I have below into your browser bar - just change some of the details.
Get top-viewed posts in a specific timeframe
Note: you can increase the number of posts by adjusting the number after "limit":
Get a CSV file for a count of posts with each Idea Status
I haven't delved into our Product Ideas category, but for context, we have over 2,000 active ideas so it's a space we need to keep track of - the API has been essential in helping review ideation content.
If you made it this far…what API solutions have you found essential? And thanks for reading!