17 Replies Latest reply: Mar 23, 2011 12:51 PM by jimjonesWRS RSS

    Community & Customer Support

    Laura Kelso

      For Community Managers of external-facing communities, I was curious if, where, and how you integrate your company's Customer Support on your Community sites? Is there a place to seek Customer Support on your community homepage? Where can you find it in your site navigation structure?

      We recently removed Customer Support from our Community homepage, but are thinking about re-introducing it. Wondering if there are any best-in-class guidelines on this topic?

      Thanks so much,

      Laura

        • Re: Community & Customer Support
          Deirdre Walsh

          Hi, Laura. 

           

          Is customer support done through Jive?  At NI, we actually host our support forums on Lithium but are working on ways both big and small to integrate the two areas.  We've gotten feedback from our customers that often they don't really differentiate between official support, online community, technical library, or even certain non-purchasing areas of our Website.  Therefore, we have integrated both platforms with our overall site search, have clear links to one from the other (this will be even better in the next few months but you can see the screenshot from our community to support below), and are even working on combing reputation across both platforms. 

           

          I think this is still a big question for a lot of companies but am finding that doing the work both internally and externally to unite these areas is the best for customer experience. 

          Screen shot 2011-02-22 at 9.16.10 AM.png

            • Re: Community & Customer Support
              Joe Bush

              Deirdre - Completely agree with you that many clients rarely care which channel they are using to address their support needs, as long as they are getting the answers they need.  Very interested in hearing more on your ability to provide integrated search across both your 'official' support platform, as well as you Jive community.  That is a project we are looking to address within our community.  Would you willing to provide additional detail and share your approach, experience, etc. 

               

              Thanks,

              Joe

            • Re: Community & Customer Support
              Trisha Liu

              Hi Laura -

               

              Great question! Our structure is similar to what Deirdre has described: our official support and community are on two separate platforms, so we crosslink on each home page:

               

               

              Beyond this, we do not have further cross-linking within each site. However, within the community, I do see members providing answers and linking back to our knowledge base which is hosted in the Support site. We would love to someday have single sign on and integrations for unified search results, but no timeline for that yet.

               

              Hope this is helpful!

               

              Trisha

              • Re: Community & Customer Support
                Laura Kelso

                Hi Deirdre & Trisha, thanks so much - this is really helpful. Our customer support is not done through Jive; HomeAway uses SalesForce for all email queries, and offers customer phone support as well. One goal of our new external facing Community is to help reduce customer phone and email queries, but we need to be more strategic in the ways we integrate customer support - both on our HomeAway and Community sites. You've both provided some great food for thought. Thanks again.

                  • Re: Community & Customer Support
                    Trisha Liu

                    Laura, you are welcome! I think StrongMail may use SalesForce for their customer support as well and may have an integration with their Jive customer community. Let me reach out to their community manager...

                     

                    Trisha

                      • Re: Community & Customer Support
                        Laura Kelso

                        That would be great! I'd appreciate any other insights...

                        Thanks again,
                        Laura

                          • Re: Community & Customer Support
                            judiths

                            Hi Trisha. Thanks for reaching out to me about this discussion. Laura, my apologies for not posting a response sooner. I've been at a tradeshow all week with limited access to email.

                             

                            StrongMail has the same community objective as HomeAway which is to leverage the community (Spark) to scale support. Our Salesforce case management portal was migrated into Jive for a few reasons, but one of the main ones, was to drive a certain behavior: to have customers start new discussions about their questions, search product documentation and/or review existing discussions for answers before filing a support case.

                             

                            One of your questions was where the links to support are placed in the community.

                             

                            Links to the Support space which contain the case management interface are prominent. We have a Support link in the global nav, each top level space has a side widget below the fold that asks "Need Support?" and those are linked to the same support space. See the attached screen shot.

                             

                            SparkSupport.png

                             

                            Our reasoning for not burying support links is two-fold:

                             

                            1. All customers in Spark are on active support plans. It's required to gain access to the community. We tout Spark as a value-added benefit to their support plan and do not want to give the impression that it's a replacement for paid technical support. If they cannot find their answers in there, we encourage them to file a support case.
                            2. Under the Support space, we have more resources than just the case management interface. We have our solutions and product docs which are popular resources. They are often viewed first before a ticket is filed.

                             

                            We recently conducted a survey that asked very specific questions about how Spark impacts the use of technical support. I think you might find these insightful (hopefully reassuring ) that keeping Support links visible is not a detriment to your overall objective of scaling down support.

                             

                            • 60% of our community members visit our "Knowledge Exchange" space the most. Support is the next most visited space
                            • 41% of our members prefer to read our solutions docs and user guides to find answers to their questions. These resources are in the Support space which speaks to why it's one of the most visited spaces in the community
                            • 62% of our members go to the community to search for answers to their questions (vs asking a question to the community) Tthis gives us some insight into the type of members we have. Most of them are content consumers vs being contributors
                            • 41% of our members go to the community for assistance in troubleshooting an issue
                            • only 6% of our members go to the community to file a support case ONLY
                            • 42% of our members usually find answers to their questions in the community
                            • 54% of our members indicated that their use of technical support has decreased as a result of using the community to find their answers
                            • 57% of our members go to the community first to find answers to their questions

                             

                            I hope this helps you with your questions. Let me know if you have any others.

                             

                            Thanks,

                            Judith

                              • Re: Community & Customer Support
                                Trisha Liu

                                Holy moly, Judith - those are some fantastic numbers! Congratulations on these accomplishments and thanks for sharing them with us!

                                 

                                Trisha

                                • Re: Community & Customer Support
                                  Laura Kelso

                                  Hi Judith,

                                  Your reply was hugely helpful, especially because we're in the infancy stages of Community at HomeAway, and it's so important we get the Customer Support piece "right" from the start. Thank you for the screen shot, as well as the extremely promising results of the survey you conducted. I was struck by how only 6% of your members to Spark to file a support case only - that is fantastic!

                                  I'm excited to use some of the knowledge you've conveyed as we integrate Customer Support on our Community platform. (Thank goodness for those who've gone before us... )

                                  Thank you again!

                                  Laura

                                    • Re: Community & Customer Support
                                      judiths

                                      Hi Laura -

                                       

                                      I'm glad I could help. Another thing that I encourage you to do before you launch or soon after launch, is enable Google Analytics in your community. Very useful and valuable to couple these analytics with Jives. Please feel free to contact me with any more questions.

                                       

                                      Judith

                                    • Re: Community & Customer Support
                                      Sanjiv Varma

                                      Hi Folks,

                                       

                                      We are also struggling to understand more about 'formal' support via communities.

                                       

                                      1. What are your experiences about 'liability' if a community forum ends up providing the wrong information ?

                                      2. Do you have dedicated support resources monitoring and supporting thru the community - in which case probably it is formal paid support and liability comes with it.

                                      3. But in cases where it a 'hands-off' community (ofcourse we keep it vibrant), but no formal support, meaning community membersr share best practices amongst themself - then what has been the experience around liability if wrong info is provided.

                                       

                                      Do you think having generic community usage discalimers been enough to keep going ?

                                       

                                      Thanks
                                      Sanjiv

                                        • Re: Community & Customer Support
                                          jimjonesWRS

                                          Hi Sanjiv:

                                           

                                          First, welcome to the community...hope you will find it useful!

                                           

                                          We've been down the same path you are going, so I'll share my experiences.  Our community (http://developer.windriver.com) provides support for customers using our Linux based products.  In the future we'll expand the community to cover all our products...so the issues you raised are definitely things we had to think through.

                                           

                                          Regarding your first question - you should take guidance from your corporate legal department here.  Our legal team helped with the creation of our terms of service.  Our TOS explicitly states that the information is provided on an as-is basis, and that we accept no liability for customer issues.  It also states that employees, contractors, etc., are not liable for problems or issues caused by customer's use of the content of our forum.

                                           

                                          We don't have a dedicated community monitor, but we have multiple support engineers who are in the community regularly, responding to customer posts/questions.  You raise a good question with your second point, although our counsel tells us that we're not liable (again, because of the TOS).

                                           

                                          The TOS also covers us in the 3rd scenario you mentioned (do you see a pattern here? ) - again, irrespective of who provides the content, the company is not liable.

                                           

                                          Not sure what you meant by "generic community usage disclaimers", but I'd say that anything generic isn't really going to work in this situation.  In my opinion, it has to come from your legal department so that it fits with your corporate standards, guidance, etc.

                                           

                                          Hope this helps!

                                           

                                          Jim

                                • Re: Community & Customer Support
                                  Jamie Pappas

                                  Hi Laura,

                                   

                                  At EMC, our customer support forums are hosted on our community - so all roads point there.

                                   

                                  As you can see on our community page - customer support is featured prominently on the support forums. You'll also find support forums within the community (again, our only support forums) linked to from our intranet, extranet (for partners), and emc.com site. It's the only place we provide support forums, and it made sense for us to have it within our community network for a few reasons - namely, we want to provide a positive support experience with intuitive and easy to use software (and Jive fits that bill) and we hope that folks that come there for support related issues will take the time to explore the rest of the community network and find other engaging information and conversation. The way that Jive surfaces related conversations makes it very easy for us to surface related conversations and content while folks are using support forums.

                                   

                                  Hope this helps! Happy to chat further!

                                   

                                  Jamie