Support Community Implementation Guide

Version 3

    Introduction

    This guide serves as a set of best practices and guidelines around launching, maintaining, and reporting on the success of your customer support discussion community that is powered by Jive. The guide is broken down into 5 separate sections:

    1. Setting up Your Support Place
    2. Question Management
    3. Community Management
    4. Customer Engagement
    5. Measuring Success and ROI

     

    The materials in this guide are designed to outline the entire life cycle of a support community, with the goal of being able to measure direct ROI and impact on your support organization.

     

    The implementation guide is oriented toward community managers and stakeholders of new Jive-x communities, as well as established support communities who are looking for guidance on how to create a thriving support community using the Jive platform.

     

    Setting up Your Support Place

    Define Your Support Place Topology

    One of the initial steps of setting up your support community will be creating a dedicated place within your Jive community where your customers will go to ask support-related questions. The general recommendation is to create a new space for your support forum. There are several benefits to using a space:

    • Allows you to have fine-grained control over permissions in the support community
    • Allows you to integrate your Salesforce case management system with support discussions
    • Lets you create sub-spaces, allowing for more control over the hierarchy of your Jive community

     

    When creating the new support community space, one of the items you will need to consider is where your support community will live within your community structure and your established site hierarchy.

     

    The goal for this section is to place your support forum in an area in your community that is consistent with the rest of your site layout,  is organized in a way that meets your customer's expectations, and is optimized for their needs.

     

    Creating a cohesive community taxonomy and sitemap that is tailored to your customer's needs is a much broader topic than we can cover in this guide. You should work with a strategy and planning team to define the community structure that will work best for your organization. Determining where the support community lives within your overall community is one piece of this larger conversation.

     

    Although this section does not provide a complete outline of how to structure your Jive community, several common patterns have been established which your community may follow. You can use these examples to get a sense of different options for how the support community may be placed within your larger community structure.

     

    The main thing to consider when structuring your community is how the support activities fit into the larger purpose of your community. For example, if the primary purpose of your community is around support, then you will naturally have your support discussion forums featured more prominently than if your community's purpose includes aspects like community management, new business, partners, and more.

     

    Topology Example A

    Here is an example where the community hierarchy is constructed in a way where various places are separated by the difference services the organization provides to customers. This type of layout is common among B2B communities.

     

    top-a.png

     

    Topology Example B

    In this example, the community hierarchy is broken down by the products that the company provides. Each product has its own support discussion forum that lives within the hierarchy. This is a popular structure for B2C communities that offer a wide variety of products or services.

     

    2-tob-b.png

    3-top-b.png

     

    Configuring Permissions & Moderation

    Permissions for your support community should be set up in a way such that your community members are able to easily create new discussions and participate in other discussions, and your support team is also enabled to manage those discussions and the content in the support community.

     

    Although users can normally create blogs, documents, discussions, and other types of content in a standard place, for the support community you want to limit the types of content that customers are able to create. You can achieve this in Jive by assigning the "All Registered Users" permission group the "Discuss" permission level.

     

    You also want to give special permissions to support agents so that they can manage the support community content. For example,  support agents should be able to move, delete, and edit discussions, as well as create new blog posts and documents.

     

    We recommend enabling Guest access for your support community, although this access should be limited to only viewing content. In Jive it is possible to allow guests to create and participate in discussions as a logged-out guest--but this configuration is not recommended for a support community.

     

    Moderation allows a community admin to review and approve any community content created by your customers. With a moderation workflow, any new content created by a non-admin must be reviewed and approved by a community admin before being published. Although in a discussion-based support community the primary content type is a discussion, and discussions are not moderated, you may want to enable other kinds of content creation, such as documents. If you do, you will probably want these content types to be moderated.

     

    Moderation can be especially useful if you have integrated a knowledge base into your community. Moderated document creation can encourage customers to contribute valuable content to the knowledge base, while also ensuring that this content is being reviewed and approved by your support team.

     

    Example permission set up

    Given the best practices outlined above, the following example shows how to configure your support community permissions in Jive:

    4-permissions.png

     

    Configuring Content Types

    We recommend enabling the following types of content when you configure your support community:

    • Blogs
    • Documents
    • Discussions
    • Polls

     

    5-contenttypes.png

     

    Although your customers will only be able to create new discussions, you should enable these other types of content so your support team and community managers have full access to publish various types of materials.

     

    This type of configuration is necessary if your team plans on posting blog posts to the support place or using the support place to house knowledge base articles. Polls can also be helpful for gaining support feedback and increasing community engagement.

     

    Support Place Page Layout

    You can set up your Support Place layout using two different tools:

    1. Page with Tiles
    2. Overview Layout with Widgets

     

    The Page view will give you access to a series of Tiles that let you pull in dynamic content from Jive and outside data sources. An added benefit of using a Page is that the layout is automatically mobile friendly and the design is responsive across variety of mobile devices. Widgets can be used in an Overview Layout to also populate the page with dynamic data. Widgets can give you greater control over the look and feel of the community, but mobile support is not guaranteed. You can read more about the differences between Tiles and Widgets in our product documentation.

     

    You can read more about Designing Overview Pages and Place Pages in our product documentation.

     

    A number of tiles are bundled with Jive. See the list below for recommended tiles that are helpful for Support communities:

     

    • Ask a Question
    • Answered Questions
    • Unanswered Questions
    • Carousel
    • Key Content and Places
    • Popular Content
    • Top Participants

     

    If you set up a custom overview layout for your support community place, you will need to select a series of widgets.

     

    • Formatted Text and HTML widget
    • Search widget
    • Ask a question widget
    • Recent Activity
    • Answered questions
    • Unanswered questions
    • Gamification - Individual Leaderboard
    • Popular Content

     

    We recommend working with a strategy specialist to design the right Support community layout for your community and customers.

     

    Ticket Integration

    The final part of configuring your support community in Jive is integrating your community with your ticketing system. Having your support community integrated into your ticketing system provides you a variety of benefits:

    • Allows you to funnel all customer questions into a single support queue that your support team can manage
    • Allows you to assign out these discussion cases to individual support agents
    • Allows you to consolidate your private support cases with your public support discussions into a single ticketing system
    • Allows you to set SLAs and Response Deadlines for new cases
    • Provides a central place to report support agent activity, performance, and case trends

     

    Jive provides this type of integration through the Jive-x CRM Connector.

     

    Jive-x CRM Connector Configuration

    The Jive-x CRM Connector is an Add-on available for Jive-x communities that allow you to have new questions in your community automatically create new cases in Salesforce. This means that customers can access your Jive community and ask new questions, and behind the scenes new cases will be created for your own support team to begin working.

     

    Installing and configuring the Jive-x CRM Connector will require a services engagement with Jive, so if you are looking to set up this module please reach out to  your account manager at Jive to get this process started.

     

    Once the module is installed and connected with your Salesforce account, the automatic case creation functionality has several configuration options you can control:

    • Will all new questions automatically create new Salesforce cases?
    • If questions are creating new cases automatically, is it immediately after question creation or after a certain period of time?
    • Will this auto-escalation feature apply to the entire community, or only specific spaces?
    • What user group will be allowed to manually create cases and view case information in Jive?

     

    6-cmr-setup.png

     

     

    Auto-escalating discussions into cases after a certain period of time

    How quickly you want to have discussions resulting in new cases depends on your community activity and how frequently your community members are engaging in discussions. If your community has low engagement and members are not providing answers to questions from their peers, you should probably create cases immediately when questions are posted. If your community members are actively posting in discussions and providing helpful and correct answers shortly after the questions are posted, then it may be best to delay the case creation process. You want to provide enough time for the community to provide answers, but also escalate the discussion into a case if the community fails to help.

     

    You will need to monitor your community activity to ensure that this configuration is set appropriately. If you set the time duration too low, you may end up having your support agents answering questions that the community would have otherwise handled. Inversely, if you set the time duration too high, questions may go unanswered too long and cause frustration for your customers.

     

    Applying auto-escalation rules in specific spaces

    You can configure the add-on to monitor new questions for auto-escalation in the entire community, or only in specific spaces.

     

    If your entire community is dedicated to customer support, and all questions need to be tracked and monitored, then having all questions auto-escalate will be the recommended configuration.

     

    If your community has a variety of purposes, and customer support forums are only one facet, you should configure the add-on to auto-escalate questions only in these specific spaces.

     

    Salesforce Case Management Configuration

    Once you have the Jive-x CRM Connector installed, you will go on to configure Salesforce, which is where your support agents will manage tickets that are escalated from open customer questions.

     

    All new cases enter into a general queue in your Salesforce site. Once in the ticket queue, your support team will begin to take cases from this queue to begin working.

     

    Setting up Case Fields

    A number of data points from Jive are sent over to Salesforce when the case is created. In addition to these, you can also use Salesforce to populate fields like an SLA Response Deadline, which your team can use to order and prioritize incoming cases, as well as report against. You will need to set up and configure your ticket queue in Salesforce to show columns and fields that are relevant to your support agents. See a set of recommended fields below:

     

    • Subject
    • Date/Time Opened
    • Account Name
    • Status
    • Contact Name
    • Case Number
    • Discussion URL

     

    We recommend you set up and use Salesforce's case status to help your support agents manage their personal ticket queues. In general the following case statuses are recommended:

    • New
    • In Progress
    • Waiting on Customer
    • Waiting on Expert Feedback
    • Waiting on Agent Close
    • Closed

     

    Agents will also be closing cases within Salesforce. It is advised that you create a Case Closure page in Salesforce that requires your support agents to fill out certain required fields upon case closure that can be useful for reporting. For example, fields you may want to report against would be:

    • Issue Reason
    • Resolution Type

     

    The possible issue reasons and resolution type will be specific to your community and the products and services you're supporting. You can use these fields to report against to better understand the nature of the issues your customers are having, which you can feedback into your knowledge base and documentation programs.

     

    Setting up Views

    There are two primary views you will need to set up for your team in Salesforce:

    • Incoming Cases
    • My Open Cases

     

    The "Incoming Cases" queue view will show all cases assigned to your incoming ticket queue. Your support agents will take new cases from this view and assign the cases to themselves to begin working.

     

    The "My Cases" view will filter cases to only those owned by the logged in user. You will need to filter out cases that are closed, as this is the view that your support agents will be actively working out of throughout the day.

     

    Question Management

    As support agents begin to take these cases and work them to resolution you will find that there are common steps that agents will need to follow. Each question goes through a standard set of steps. Below is a general outline of the life cycle of a support discussion question, from inception to resolution:

     

    7-questionlife.png

     

    The life cycle you put into place will be unique to your organization. It is important that you understand the ideal path a question can take, as well as the alternative paths that may be less efficient. Once this mapping is created, this can be used as a training tool for your support agents to better understand the variety of paths a question can take from creation to resolution. Additionally, understanding the individual steps a question goes through will aid in designing a helpful user experience for your customers, as you are able to build more effective call outs and processes that reduce friction between the time the customer has a question and the time that they find their answer.

     

    Example of the possible paths a support discussion may take to resolve:

     

    8-questionlife2.png

     

    Question Assignment

    As customers create new questions in the support community, the CRM connector will also be creating new cases in your Salesforce system. How these cases get assigned out will depend on a variety of things that are specific to your support organization, although it is recommended that you integrate these public discussion cases into your existing support case handling processes. These processes should be built to address concerns around your support organization's hours, outage processes, coverage for agents who are out of the office, etc.

     

    Beyond integrating public discussions into your existing case management processes, a critical piece to consider is whether or not you will allow your entire support team to begin answering customer questions in the public support space, or if these will be limited to a smaller team that is a subset of your support team.

     

    It is generally advised that when you begin to roll out this new discussion management program that you build a specialized team of individuals who are trained specifically to handle public discussions. You can then take their feedback to improve the discussion management program before you open it up to the entire support staff.

     

    There are two main reasons for building a separate team to initially handle public support questions:

     

    1 - Customer communication differences

    The types of questions asked in the public space are slightly different than what may be posted in a customer's private support portal. Customers posting in the public support space are often less technical, unaware of established support processes, and will often need things explained to them in an easy to understand way, as the answer will be read by a variety of customers after the fact.

     

    All of the content is published publicly and will be indexed and searchable in search engines like Google, so it is important that the content the support agents provide is correct, concise, and clear. Agents have to be sure to not fall into any traps, like engaging in customer arguments or harming the organization's brand.

     

    Customers will frequently not engage in a series of back and forth replies to troubleshoot an issue, so it is important that a support agent's initial replies are as helpful as possible. Agents may not have the luxury of asking probing questions, and instead have to run with various assumptions in order to get a helpful initial post published.

     

    2- Case handling differences

    Your support team may be used to slightly different case management processes for handling private support cases, so learning the ins and outs of managing public support cases will require more training and agent feedback. Things to consider is that your support agents may not know as much about the customer if they post a public reply, so the support agent may not have the luxury of being able to see information about the user's account, service and contract details, etc. This means that the issue investigation and troubleshooting processes will be different and may require a different approach.

     

    Issue Resolution Process

    Once your team has a process in place around assigning out cases to your support agents, the support agents will then begin handling the support discussions and working directly with the community members.

     

    The life cycle of a support discussion investigation will be unique to each organization and will vary across different types of businesses and communities.

     

    A general case handling framework that can apply to a variety of use cases is the "Identify > Assess > Resolve" process. This is a case handling framework designed with the intent of reducing the complexity of managing individual Support cases by breaking each case down into three distinct activities.

     

    Stage
    Action
    IdentifyDetermine the nature of the issue reported by the customer.
    AssessNail down the specifics of the problem.
    ResolveGive the customer the solution and close the case.

     

    Although this guide is not meant to define exactly how to implement such a case handling process, it is good to determine what your process is today and how it may need to change as your team begins to provide support services through your public support community. If you are currently handling support cases through private or direct support channels then it is likely that your existing processes will need some adjusting.

     

    Having a standardized process in place around case handling means that your support agents are providing a uniform and consistent experience for your community members. Additionally, the process should be designed around your particular type of products and services such that you are reducing the amount of back and forth replies needed to resolve an issue. It is very easy for customers to become frustrated during the support process if the right questions are not being asked at the right time.

     

    Examples of the Types of New Customer Questions

    Another part of building a case handling framework is understanding the variety of questions that your customer base may be asking. As you map out these types of questions, you can then begin to document the best ways to handle these questions. As noted in the table below, you will see that some types of questions that come in are issues that the support team cannot actually address. It is good to acknowledge these gaps so you can build rule and processes around how to handle these scenarios.

     

    Type of Customer QuestionCan Support Answer This Question?
    Support Handling Method

    Product or Service How-To Question

    1. Provide Correct Answer

    Broken functionality or Bug Report

    1. Identify if the issue is a known bug.
    2. If it is not a known bug, reproduce and file a new bug.
    3. Provide bug ID to customer
    4. Provide a workaround if available.

    Account Access Question

    1. If the user is an existing customer, follow account access guidelines to provide access
    2. If user is not an existing customer, direct user to new business channel

    Sales or New Business Request

    1. If the user is an existing customer, begin a new sales request for that account
    2. If user is not an existing customer, direct user to new business channel (e.g. Contact Us)

    Feature Request

    1. Direct user to Feature Request place
    Custom Development Question
    1. Direct user to Custom Development place
    2. Move discussion to Custom Development place
    3. Link to any existing documentation that may be helpful
    Seeking Community Collaboration or Feedback
    1. Direct user to Community Discussion place
    2. Move discussion to Community Discussion place

     

    Example Types of Support Agent Discussion Responses

    There are a variety of paths that a support discussion can take as the case is worked. Despite this range of work, there will typically be a general set of response types that the support agents will provide over time. The benefit of understanding the possible types of responses is so that your team can recognize the patterns in how to best handle these discussions and what the appropriate path is for each question.

     

    For this guide we will provide a list of example response types that are based off of the provided types of example questions outlined earlier in the guide:

     

    • Providing an answer
    • Provide Identified bug information
    • Asking for more information
    • Provide update on Investigation status
    • Asking for an update on a stale discussion
    • Direct User to Sales
    • Direct User to Feature Request Place
    • Direct User to Developer Place
    • Direct User to Community Collaboration Place

     

    Although it is never advised that your support agents use pre-written responses for any of their support discussion replies, it is encouraged that the team builds several examples to reference for how to structure and phrase certain key messages that will be re-used multiple times throughout the support process. This is also a good opportunity for the support manager to ensure that support agents are adhering to any brand voice and tone guidelines your organization may have.

     

    Providing an answer

     

    Hi <User's first name>, I've determined that this issue you're seeing is being caused by a misconfiguration. You can resolve the issue by following the instructions below:

     

    <Resolution Steps here>

     

    Let me know if this helps answer your question.

     

    Provide Identified bug information

    Hi <User's first name>,

     

    I've been able to reproduce the issue you're seeing and I've determined that this is a bug. A bug report has been created and the bug ID is ##### , which affects versions <Affected Versions here>.

     

    <If there are any workarounds available...>

    In the meantime, I have found that you can workaround the issue by following the steps below:

     

    <Workaround Steps here>

     

    Asking for an update on a stale discussion

    Hi <User's first name>, I wanted to follow up on this discussion here to see if there were any updates. Is the issue still happening?

     

    Directing User to another place

    Hi <User's first name>,

     

    It looks like your question is related to developing a custom module. This type of question is going to be better served in the <Developer Place> community, where there may be members who have had a similar question. I'll move this discussion to that place at this time.

     

    Marking a Discussion as Resolved with a Correct Answer

    Although all responses should be posted with the goal of moving the discussion towards a resolution, not all responses will actually be able to result in resolved question. It is good to identify what types of responses have the potential of resulting in closing the case and what questions will keep the investigation open. The reason this should be understood is because the support community's success is reliant upon there being as many correct answers posted to the community as possible, so it is valuable to be able to recognize what types of responses may turn into correct answers.

     

    Below is a diagram of a set of possible types of responses provided by a support agent. We can see that some replies have the potential to result in a correct answer that addresses the customer's question, while other replies will often require additional follow up by the customer or require resources outside of the support channel.

     

    Type of Support Agent Response

    Can the reply

    resolve the issue?

    Providing an answer
    Provide Identified bug information
    Direct User to Sales
    Direct User to Feature Request Place
    Asking for more information
    Provide update on Investigation status
    Asking for an update on a stale discussion
    Direct User to Developer Place
    Direct User to Community Collaboration Place

     

    Customers Marking a Reply as the Correct Answer

    In an ideal scenario the person who created the new question in the community will mark the reply that resolves the issue as the "Correct answer".

     

    With this said, it is not uncommon to find that a customer will indeed receive help through a discussion they created, but they will fail to mark the response that helped them as the correct answer. When this happens it can look like customers are not getting the help they actually are receiving, and it can reduce the confidence other users may have when reviewing older discussions.

     

    Due to this scenario where customers will frequently fail to mark a reply as correct, it is advised that when a support agent posts a reply that they believe provides the correct answer to the question they should include a question at the end of their post asking the following from the customer:

     

    Let me know if this helps answer your question.

     

    Marking a response as a correct answer is a process that requires coordination between the customer asking the question and the individual who is providing a helpful response to the discussion. The support agent should want the customer to mark the reply as the correct answer. This type of action gives more power and ownership to the customer, who can control when the issue is actually resolved, and it also is encouraged as a way to increase community engagement, since it asks the customer to return to the community to close the loop on their issue. The best way to encourage this action by the customer is to ask on your reply if your post helps answer their question.

     

    Support Agents Marking a Reply as the Correct Answer

    Despite customers being able to mark replies as the Correct Answer, many will fail to do so and the discussion will remain in an unanswered state indefinitely.

     

    Additionally, due to support agents having elevated system permissions in the support space, they will have the ability to mark any reply as the correct answer, but it is not advised that support agents immediately mark their own replies as correct. Instead, the recommendation is that the support agent always gives the customer the opportunity to mark the reply as correct on their own. If the customer does not do this within a certain period of time, and the support agent is confident that the question has been resolved by one of the replies, then it is appropriate for the support agent to mark their own reply as the correct answer. The period of time you take before marking your own reply as correct will need to be based on several factors, such as how engaged your community members are, how confident your support agents are in their answers, and most importantly how accepting your customers are to having discussions marked as answered without their confirmation.

     

    Follow Up Process

    Throughout managing and responding to customer questions, there will be scenarios that do not fall into the standard Question and Answer format. For example, instead of providing an answer to a customer question, the support agent may need to require additional background information, but the customer may fail to respond back with this requested information. Additionally, there may be a question that was previously answered, but another community member posts back to the discussion with a follow up reply.

     

    This section aims to provide a set of best practices on how to deal with these types of scenarios and how to best follow up on these discussions.

     

    Reopened Questions

    A common scenario is a discussion where a customer's question gets answered and resolved, and another user responds back to the discussion with one of the following types of posts:

    • Customer reporting that the proposed solution does not work
    • Customer reports a different issue or asks a new question

     

    In either scenario, it is recommended that you branch these replies to a new discussion thread, and handle that as a new case for your support engineers. It is recommended that you also link to the new discussion in the old question thread so that people in the future are able to find both pieces of content - This is very important if the symptoms of the follow up issue matches the original one, despite the underlying problem being different.

     

    Branching Discussions

    Throughout an investigation it is not uncommon to have the customer (or other customers) come into the thread and post additional questions that are not directly related to the originally reported problem.

     

    It is recommended that the support agent branches these additional questions into new discussion threads. This will help keep the original thread on track and easy to read, and also teaches your customers that each unique question should be its own discussion thread.

     

    Setting Future Reminders for Support Agents

    • aka "Waiting on Expert Feedback"

     

    There may be times when the support agent is unable to progress the investigation and must rely on other resources to continue his or her work. In this scenario, it is recommended that the support agent mark the case's status to a "Waiting on Expert Feedback" status and then post a follow up to the customer in the thread with a message like the following:

     

    I'm reaching out a team member to learn more about this. I'll post back here once I have some more information and next steps.

     

    At this point the support agent's responsibility is to now follow up internally with the subject-matter expert who can help aid the support agent in resolving the issue. The support agent can filter their cases by this "Waiting on Expert Feedback" status so that they can periodically check on these cases in order to make sure that the investigation is still moving forward. Lastly, posting this reply to the thread is helpful because it lets the customer know that although the support agent may not be able to provide an answer at this time, they are still looking into the issue and will continue to be the point of contact for the customer and they will follow up once there are next steps.

     

    Abandoned Discussions

    There may be times when an investigation is taking place and the support agent requires information from the customer in order for the investigation to move forward. If the customer fails to respond back with the necessary information then it is advised that the support agent post back to the thread and @mention the customer who reported the problem asking them if the issue is still happening and if they can provide the requested information.

     

    If the customer does not return to post back to the thread then it is advised that the support agent close the Salesforce case and leave the public question unanswered.

     

    Community Management

    As you launch your support community and put into place processes around your support team handling public discussions, you will need to ensure that your community as a whole is being managed and that the forum is maintained over time.

     

    A community manager will need to be assigned to the support forum. This person will be responsible for the following on-going actions:

    • Spot checking discussions to ensure that they are getting addressed and handled appropriately
    • Looking for questions that have gone unanswered for a long period of time
      • Note: These discussions may be open investigations or abandoned discussions
    • Reviewing and handling older discussions that may have become recently active once again
    • Managing any spam or inappropriate content
    • Analyzing and reporting support community metrics

     

    Ensuring a consistent voice

    As a part of the the ongoing spot checks in the support forum performed by the community manager, this person will want to monitor the posts created by Jive support agents to ensure that the language and voice used in their posts match the brand of the support organization.

     

    The goal is to make sure that customers are getting a consistent support experience and that all questions are being handled correctly.

     

    Spam management

    You may encounter scenarios where spam content is created in your support forum. Support forums can be targets of spammers because of the open nature of these communities and the amount of traffic they handle. 

     

    To combat spam, you will need to analyze the type of spam you're seeing, the volume of content being created, and the number of users who are creating the spam content. The following techniques can be taken to address this:

    • Link moderation
    • Content moderation
    • New User moderation
    • Abuse reporting
    • Banning user accounts

     

    To understand how to configure these spam prevention features and what ones may work best for your support community be sure to review Best Practices for Spam Management in Jive.

     

    Reviewing support community metrics

    The community manager will be responsible for reviewing the performance metrics for the support community on a regular basis and reporting the results to key stakeholders of the support community.

     

    The community manager will be responsible for identifying trends and changes in customer behavior. Additionally, as changes in user experience and functionality are made to the support community, this person will need to monitor the metrics to verify whether or not the changes are having the intended effect.

     

    Customer Engagement

    Throughout the process of managing and responding to customer questions, there will be an ongoing effort to raise awareness of the support community and ensure that your customers are engaging in a way that sustains and increases the health of the community over time.

     

    There are several objectives to keep in mind as you work to increase customer engagement in your support community:

    • Increase awareness: Raise awareness of the support space to your customer base
    • Increase answers found: Drive more customers to the support space to find their answers before contacting the support team directly through a new support case, email, or phone call
    • Increase new questions: Drive more customers to create new support questions in the public before contacting the support team directly through a new support case, email, or phone call
    • Prove effectiveness and activity to customers: Provide evidence that the support community is an active venue for finding answers
    • Increase # of customers providing answers: Encourage community members to participate in the community and help provide answers

     

    Each of these objectives can be achieved through a series of tactics, which are listed below:

     

    Onboarding Process Integration

    One of the best ways to introduce your customers to the public support channels is during the new customer onboarding process. The following topics should be covered by your team at this time:

    • Where to find the product documentation
    • Where to find the product knowledge base
    • Where to find existing support discussions
    • How to create a new public support discussion
    • How to create a new private support case
    • When to create a public question and when to create a private case

     

    Customer onboarding is the best time to prove to customers the viability of your support forum and the other self-service channels. These customers will often have the most questions, most of which are basic how to and training questions, which are ideally handled in the public support space, where community members can provide their own input and the answers can be reused for other new customers.

     

    Blogging

    Blogging in your Jive community is a great venue for continually reach out to your customers and make sure that the support space is top of mind and an available resource.

     

    It is common for customers to fall into a pattern around how they interact with your organization's support resources, so blogging is an effective way to illustrate new ways for customers to find the help that they need. For example, you may see that most customers will find the help that they need when reaching out directly to support through a new support case, and over time may stop using the resources in the public support place to solve their issues. This may be especially true if you have a mature direct support case process that your customers are familiar with and you are only now focusing on a new public support place. It can be difficult to change your customer's behaviors and habits. Blogging can help you change your customer's behaviors and enable them to find answers faster.

     

    There are various topics you can talk about in your blog that will attract users:

    • Featured questions and answers
    • New knowledge base articles
    • Success metrics
    • Best practices for customers
    • New support space features

     

    The goal is to highlight the success of the support space and draw customers into the place when they have future questions.

     

    Lastly, although you may know what you want to blog about, it is important to create a blogging schedule and release new content at a regular cadence. You do not want to post a series of blog posts all in quick succession, followed by a long period of no communication. You should instead understand what topics you are going to write about, how many pieces of content you can create, and then begin to create a schedule for producing and releasing these blog posts so that there is a constant stream of new materials being published.

     

    Featuring popular questions and answers is another available method for increasing customer engagement. The goal here is to highlight the best content in your support forum.

     

    The primary purpose of doing this is to increase visibility around topics that have a high likelihood of deflecting new cases and answering common customer questions. Beyond this, the secondary benefits around customer engagement are that you are able to show off your thriving support community and illustrate success stories.

     

    It is important that when people visit your support community they are able to see how it is actively helping people and it is directly resulting in answered questions. Featuring specific questions and topics is a good way of achieving this. Additionally, if this a good way to feature content where answers may be coming from community members instead of your support staff.

     

    Gamification

    Gamification is a tool you can use to game mechanics to increase community engagement and drive incentive and rewards for specific types of activity and usage.

     

    For a support community, this means creating rules for earning points and badges around actions like answering questions, participating in support discussions, and providing correct answers.

     

    Custom Missions

    To manage and set up custom missions it is recommended that you review the Jive Gamification documentation and the Jive Gamification community.

     

    Additionally, a complete list of Jive actions you can reference when building custom missions can be found here: Gamification Module - Action List | Jive Community.

     

    It is advised that you set up Gamification missions for your entire community, but specifically for a Support community there are several key types of missions you can set up:

    • Repeating Missions:
      • Award points for you creating a new question.
      • Award points for you replying to a question.
      • Award points for someone else marking your reply as the correct answer.
      • Award points for someone else marking your reply as a decision.
      • Award points for someone else marking your reply as helpful.
      • Award points for someone else bookmarking your question
    • Non-Repeating Missions:
      • Award a badge for a user creating XX new questions.
      • Award a badge for a user having XX of their replies marked as correct answers.

     

    You can assign badges to the missions so that your members can earn badges that they can show off on their profile page. This is a great way to create special badges for community all-stars and MVPs who deserve special recognition in the community for their efforts.

     

    One way to use badges is to set up a type of mission that awards a new badge for each new milestone. For example, you may have a badge given out when someone has 5 of their replies marked as "Correct", and then you may have another badge when someone has 10 of their replies marked as "Correct". Having different badges for different levels of activity is a good way to keep people engaged in the Gamification program and reward them for returning to your community and staying active.

     

    Support Community Leaderboards

    One of the main driving forces behind users wanting to gain more points through Gamification is so they can show off their total points on a community leaderboard and rise up in the rankings amongst their peers.

     

    9-gamification-leader.png

     

    When configuring an "Individual Leaders" leaderboard for your support community, it is important that you configure the widget so that only actions taken place in the Support community are used to built the leaderboard:

     

    10-gamification-setup.png

     

    Community Member Recognition

    Role Badges

    In addition to awarding points through gamification, you are able to use Jive's "Role Badges" functionality, where you can assign specific badges to user groups so that group members will have a badge icon next to their name. There are several built in role badges:

     

    • Administrator
    • Champion
    • Employee
    • Expert
    • Moderator
    • Support

     

    It is advised that you create a permission group for your support team that has the Support role. This is important so that when support agents are posting replies to customer discussions, it is visually clear that these users are a part of the support organization.

     

    The other role that you will want to set up is the Expert role. You can assign this role out to community members who have proven themselves in the support community as being helpful individuals who are a reliable source of good information and regularly answer questions from other customers.

     

    Using the Expert role is a great way to recognize all-star community members and also gives other customers confidence in the information that they are posting. This technique is critical as you begin to look into ways to have the community be more engaged and provide more answers.

     

    Example of a Support role badge icon:

    11-rolebadge.png

     

     

    Integrated Support Experience

    One of the primary goals of having a public support community is to reduce the number of private support cases by providing more answers in a public forum where customers find those discussions to answer their own questions.

     

    One way to increase usage of the support forum is by changing the way that customers file new support cases so that your support forum materials are more visible and it is clear that creating a new public question is often times a better alternative than creating a new private case.

     

    It is advised that you direct all customers through a single channel when initially looking for support services. For some communities this may be their own private support customer portal, and for other communities you may have all customers start from the public support forum. In either case, it is much easier to expose customers to new support services and improve their support experience if they are being directed through a single channel.

     

    Integrated Search in Case Creation Wizard

    A common implementation is having an integrated search or federated search built into your case creation process. For example, you may have a case creation process set up where customers begin to create a case by typing in their case issue, and then you provide search results across various systems, including your support discussion forums.

     

    Below is an example of an case wizard that includes a federated search across three systems:

    1. Product Documentation
    2. Support Discussion Forums
    3. Knowledge Base Articles

    12-case-wizard.png

     

    This is a good way to immediately surface support discussion content to your customers without having to drastically change the workflow that has been previously established.

     

    Additionally, updating the case creation wizard to include buttons for customers to create new public discussions instead of private cases is a good way to deflect new private cases and increase adoption of the public support space:

     

    13-case-wizard-button.png

     

    Updating Customer Portals

    In addition to updating your case creation wizard to include support discussion materials, an additional method for integrating support discussions into your customer's support experience is through updating the layout of the support portal that they use in your community.

     

    If you have a separate support portal for each customer, this means that you can update this page to include widgets or tiles that pull in content from the support space:

    • Ask a Question widget / tile
    • Answered Questions widget / tile
    • Featured Content widget / tile

    This is a helpful way to surface materials outside of the customer's private support group that may be helpful and can deflect more cases from being created in the future.

     

    Cross-referencing Content in Support Cases

    Cross-referencing public support discussion content in customer's private support cases is a great way of raising visibility of the public support forum and proving to customers the value that lives within that support channel.

     

    It is important that you train your support agents who are working customer cases to link back to public support discussions whenever possible. Referencing helpful materials this way can help reduce the time it takes to resolve a customer case, and it also illustrate to customers that the support discussion forum is an active place to find answers in the future.

     

    Case Assists: Calling out the support space and existing answers in the public support space

     

    Measuring Success and ROI

    Throughout the implementation and management of your support community, it is essential that you are gathering metrics around the success of your community. The purpose of this is to better understand the effectiveness of your community and to illustrate a clear return on investment for your support community.

     

    Actions Customers Take to Get an Answer

    There are two actions your customers can take to get an answer to their question through the support community:

    1. Find an answer through an existing Question and Answer discussion thread that matches their own question
      • If there is no existing question, then the user will then...
    2. Create a new Question for someone to post an answer directly to their question
      • A correct answer should be posted to this question, either by the members of the community or a support representative

     

    Ideally users are first searching the support community to see if their question has been previously asked and answered. If they do not find that their question has been asked or answered before, then the user is expected to create a new question, which will then be answered in the community.

     

    14-reporting-flow.png

     

    Making sure that you're managing your support community and working to increase engagement will ensure that users are following this type of flow when looking for answers to their questions.

     

    Support Discussion Metrics

    There are two primary metrics to track in order to measure how effective your support community is in providing answers:

    1. Discussion answers found by customers: # of new issues answered by a user finding an existing support discussion thread that has an existing correct answer
    2. Discussion answers provided by customers: # of new issues answered by a new question being created and answered by a community member

     

    The first metric is a "Self-Service" metric, where customers are able to immediately find an existing answer to their question without any direct intervention from the support organization.

     

    The second metric is a "Peer to Peer" metric, where the customers find an answer through the support community by creating a new question, and the answer is provided by a community member. This metric also requires that there is no direct intervention from the support organization, although there may be some support involvement in the management of the discussion through marking certain replies as the "Correct answer".

     

    Primary Support Discussion ROI Metrics

    Metric IDMetricMeasurement SourceConfidence Factor
    Self-Service Success
    Metric 1Discussion answers found by Logged in UsersGoogle Analytics20%
    Metric 2Discussion answers found by GuestsGoogle Analytics5%
    Peer to Peer Success
    Metric 3Discussion answers provided in the CommunityCMR100%

     

    Setting up Jive for Gathering Metrics

    We will need to use a few different systems to gather the numbers for each of these metrics.

     

    We will primarily use Google Analytics to measure the self-service success metrics. This is because the action we want to measure for self-service is a passive action of a user browsing or viewing support discussion content - The user is not taking any direct action or clicking any buttons that we can track. Because of this passive action, we will rely on Google Analytics to monitor the number of users who follow a specific path of pages in the community.

     

    For peer to peer success metrics, we will rely on Jive's CMR reports. This is because we want to know how many people are providing correct answers to specific questions in Jive. We can use these systems to measure direct actions happening in Jive.

     

    Google Analytics Configuration

    If you do not have a Google Analytics account, or a tracking code, you will need to first set this up at Google Analytics Official Website – Web Analytics & Reporting.

     

    You will need to configure your Google Analytics in such a way that you're able to track the Jive Place (Container) that the page view was on, as well as whether or not the user who viewed it was logged in. Without doing this, by default Google Analytics is not able to report back on what traffic is related to your support place or the user type. You will define two Custom Dimensions that allows you to tell Google Analytics this information when a page is loaded. This enables you to build custom reports where you can report on traffic in only specific places, such as your support community forum.

     

    To configure this, you will need to go to Google Analytics, open your analytics profile, and then go to Admin > Custom Definitions. Create two new definitions with the following properties:

     

    Custom Dimension NameIndexScope
    JiveContainer1*Hit
    JiveAnonymous2*Hit

    *Note: the Index values may be different for you.

     

    Jive Configuration

    Once you have a tracking code from Google Analytics, you can connect your community with Google Analytics through the Third-Party Analytics configuration section of the Jive Admin Console. This can be found at Admin Console: System > Settings > Third-Party Analytics* - You will need to enter the tracking code in Jive in the Third-Party JavaScript Code text field.

     

    *Note: If you have a Jive Cloud site and do not have access to this configuration page please open a new Support case with Jive Software.

     

    You will then need to edit the default analytics tracking embed code provided by Google Analytics in order to allow you to start tracking data using these new custom dimensions. Find the line in your embed code that says either ga('send', 'pageview'); or _gaq.push(['_trackPageview']); and add the following code before the pageview line:

     

      var containerString = jive.global.containerType.toString() + ':' + jive.global.containerID.toString();

      _gaq.push(['_setCustomVar', [CustomDimensionIndex], 'JiveContainer', containerString, 3]);

     

    function isAnonymous(){

    anonymous = true;

    anonymous = window._jive_current_user.anonymous;

    if (anonymous == true)

         return "1"

    else

         return "0"

    }

    Anonymous = isAnonymous();

      _gaq.push(['_setCustomVar', [CustomDimensionIndex], 'JiveAnonymous', Anonymous, 3]);

     

    This enabled your Google Analytics integration to start tracking the JiveContainer and JiveAnonymous flags for each page view, which you can use when building custom rules and reports in Google Analytics. Be sure to replace [CustomDimensionIndex] with the specific index for these custom dimensions in your Google Analytics configuration.

     

    Building Google Analytics User Path Flow Sequences

    Background

    The primary feature of Google Analytics that you can use to measure Support discussion success is the "User Flow" report. This allows you to build custom rules to see how users may navigate from page to page within your support community, and you can report on the number of sessions that match these page path rules.

     

    For example, you may build a Sequence rule that would match the following user path:

    • Step 1: Page loaded with title of "Start new case"
    • Is immediately followed by...
    • Step 2: Discussion page loaded that is in the Support Space
    • Is followed by...
    • Step 3: Page Title that does not match "Start new case"
    • Is followed by...
    • Step 4: Page that is not a Support Case

     

    This would be an example of a user path for a user who begins the process of creating a new case, but before they create one, they instead immediately navigate to a support discussion thread (Likely because of a recommendation from the Case Creation Process integration with the KB). The user then never returns to the case creation page to finish their support case.

     

    The Google Analytics report will be able to tell you how many unique sessions completed this path across a timeframe of your choosing.

     

    Here is an example output of a custom User Flow - This includes all user sessions who meet your specified sequence rules. The number highlighted in red is the total number of sessions that fit your sequence.

     

    15-ga-flow.png

     

    You can review Google's documentation on this functionality here:

    About Flow Reports - Analytics Help

    Analyze your data with the Visitors Flow - Analytics Help

     

    Building Google Analytics User Path Flow Sequences

    To build a sequence like the provided example above, you will need to go into Google Analytics > Audience > User Flow reports

     

    From here you will see a graph of all user flow paths for your entire site. The goal here is to build a custom sequence that matches an expected user flow that would result in a successful self-service experience or deflected case that is tied to your public support space.

     

    Click "Add Segment" at the top of the page to start creating a new sequence:

    701+GA+Build+Custom+Seq.png

     

    From here, click the "New Segment" button:

    702+GA+New+Segment+button.png

     

    Next you will need to select the type of segment. Select "Sequences" under Advanced:

    703+GA+Build+Custom+Seq+2.png

     

    Here you will be able configure various steps and rules to construct a sequence of pages that you expect users to flow through in a single session.

     

    If you wish to include a step that requires that someone views a thread in your support discussion space you will need to utilize the recently setup Custom Dimension called "Jive Container". Here is an example of a page view that is a thread in the support space.

     

    704+GA+containersetup.png

     

    Please note, you will need to update the value for the Jive Container dimension so that instead of it being ##:#### it matches the correct ID for the knowledge base space in your community. For example, it may look like 14:2096 or 700:34344. See the section below for how to identify the correct Jive Container ID for your community.

     

    How to get your Jive Container Dimension Value for the Knowledge Base

    The format for the Jive Container dimension value is the following format:  [ContainerType]:[ContainerID]. The ContainerType and ContainerID will both be numbers specific to your Jive community.

     

    The ContainerType for Spaces is 14. ContainerType for Social Groups is 700.

     

    You can retrieve the ContainerID for your support place by starting to create a new document or discussion in your place, and looking for the "ContainerID" value in the URL of the page when you're crafting a new piece of content. For example, the Jive Container value for the following example would be 14:2023:

     

    705+GA+Find+Container+ID.png

     

    You would then configure the step in your Google Analytics Sequence to look like the following:

     

    Screen+Shot+2015-05-05+at+4.18.47+PM.png

     

    Sample User Path Flow Sequences

    There are two metrics we can gather using Google Analytics:

    1. Discussion answers found by Logged in Users
    2. Discussion answers found by Logged Out Users (Guests)

     

    User Flow Sequence 1 - Discussion answers found by Logged in Users

    Summary:  How many sessions exist where a user viewed a support discussion thread in the support space while logged in, and in the same session they never created a new case or support discussion

     

    Screen+Shot+2015-05-05+at+5.25.56+PM.png

     

    User Flow Sequence 2 - Discussion answers found by Logged Out Users (Guests)

    Summary:  How many sessions exist where a user viewed a support discussion thread in the support space while logged out, and in the same session they never created a new case or support discussion

     

    Screen+Shot+2015-05-05+at+5.26.26+PM.png

     

    Gathering Metrics from Community Management Reports (CMR)

    One of the metrics that we'll want to gather is how many correct answers are being posted to the support community over a period of time. This number is provided automatically in Jive's built in CMR reporting system through the "Answered Questions" report:

     

    Screen+Shot+2015-05-06+at+3.03.24+PM.png

     

    You can review this number each week to see the number of new correct answers provided in the community

     

    Building a Support Metrics Report

     

    You will want to gather the raw numbers for each of your metrics and record them in an ongoing spreadsheet. Each metric will also be accompanied by a Confidence Factor and a Cost per Metric Incident. These numbers will be used to transform the raw metric numbers you're capturing into dollar savings.

     

    The Confidence Factor is a percentage number for each metric that determines how many hits or incidents you're tracking are truly resulting in customer questions being answered or customer cases being deflected.

     

    The Cost per Metric Incident is a dollar value for each metric that determines how much money your organization would have spent on directly handling that customer question through a phone call, support case, or direct support agent interactions.

     

    The formula for this is the following:

     

    Weighted Metric or # of Deflections =  (Metric Raw Number) x (% Confidence Factor Multiplier)

    Cost Savings or ROI = (# of Deflections) x ($ Cost per Metric Incident)

     

    Here in this spreadsheet you can see these formulas used to take the raw analytics numbers and turn them into savings that can be expressed in a dollar value.

     

     

    MetricRaw Metric NumberConfidence FactorWeighted Metric NumberCost per Metric IncidentCost Savings from Deflection
    Metric 1: Discussion answers found by Logged in Users67020%134$10$1,340
    Metric 2: Discussion answers found by Guests32005%160$10$1,600
    Metric 3: Discussion answers provided in the Community25100%25$10$250
    Total Success Incidents319Weekly Total Cost Savings$3,190

     

    How are the Confidence Factor and Cost per Metric Incident numbers determined?

    These numbers are unique to each organization. The confidence factor is a number best determined through doing analysis on user behavior on your community and also surveying your customers. Some communities may see a lot of passive activity that doesn't necessarily result in answered questions, which would lower the confidence factor for the metrics gathered.

     

    The Cost per Metric Incident number needs to be determined by an internal analysis of your support agent productivity and the resource cost for answer questions that would be handled directly by your support agents.

     

    You can read more about industry best practices for determining these numbers for various types of metrics here: An Oracle Best Practice Guide: Best Practices for Measuring the Return on Investment of Online Communities.

     

    Additional Support Discussion Success and Health Metrics

    Using the same techniques defined above, there are other metrics you may want to gather and report against. These metrics may be tied directly to the ROI of your support program, or they may be related to the productivity of your own support agents  or the health of your community.

     

     

    MetricMeasurement Source
    Correct Answers provided directly by different User Types
    Discussion answers provided by Community members (non-Support agents)Data Export Service + v3 API
    Discussion answers provided by Support agentsData Export Service + v3 API
    Support Community Health
    # of New Discussions CreatedCMR

     

    In the primary support metrics, when looking at the number of "Correct answers" provided, we did not differentiate between what type of user may have been responsible for posting the correct answer. This is an important distinction because there is a greater benefit to the support organization if a correct answer is coming from a customer as opposed to a correct answer coming from a support agent.

     

    • If a customer provides a correct answer, then this is considered a case deflection, and there is very little direct support agent involvement.
    • If a support agent provides a correct answer, then the support organization is putting resources towards the answer, which has a higher cost and lowers the total return on investment for the support community.

     

    It is a good practice to gather these metrics for both situations so you can understand not only the number of correct answers being posted in the community, but also who is providing those answers.

     

    As of Jive 8 and Jive Cloud 2015.2 the built in CMR reports do not give this distinction in the pre-built reports. Instead, you will need to build a custom reporting script that utilizes Jive's Data Export Service and Jive's v3 API system.

     

    Related materials for Jive's Data Export Service and v3 API:

    Using the V2 Jive Data Export Service (Analytics) | Jive Community

    Jive REST Rest API v3.10

     

    You can build a script that makes an API call to get a list of all of the correct answers posted in your support community for a specific period of time. The specific Data Export Action you will want to target is ACTIVITY_RESOLVED_QUESTION.

     

    You will get data returned back from the data export service, including the user ID, user name, and email address of the user who posted the correct answer. You can then use the Jive v3 API to confirm whether or not this individual is a support agent. You can then report against this to understand the breakdown of what types of users are providing correct answers in your support community.