Hi External Communities people!
We have a strategic (maybe tactical) question concerning how company participants in our external/hybrid community should be represented. In our not-yet-public customer community, we will require users to use their real names and affiliations, like you would see at a professional conference or trade show. While most are OK with this, managers of the higher-level support engineers, who do not generally interact with customers, are proposing to use a single multi-user generic account for those engineers. Reasoning: once customers know the names of the brilliant people who solve the hard problems, they could bypass normal support channels and deluge the elite people with mundane problems. (Scroll to the bottom of this post to see more of what kinds of questions we get.)
We want the elite engineers to participate because they are very knowledgable experts, but we acknowledge that they shouldn't be spending a lot of time in extensive community discussions. However, we'd like them to help contribute knowledgebase articles and blogs, which shouldn't take much time (though their managers worry that if their contributions are popular they'll spend a lot of time responding in the comments sections of their posts).
How do we keep them involved while protecting them from customers who may seek them out? Does anyone here have experience with something similar?
It seems we've got a few choices, each with pros and cons:
|Model 1: Real names for everyone|
|Model 2: Generic group accounts for non-customer-facing employees|
|Model 3: Individual pseudonym accounts only for non-customer-facing employees|
What advice can you offer? To be clear, I’m starting out against anonymous accounts for a number of reasons, and I dislike “collective” accounts (multiple people who log in as the same username) for additional reasons. Yet there are certain circumstances where company accounts can be useful, such as posting manuals authored by “the company” instead of individual employees. And the managers of these high-tier engineers seem to have some painfully valid personal experience with customers who, once finding their names, guess their email addresses and deluge them with low-level support questions.
Thoughts? Preferences for Model 1/2/3?
Thanks! - Josh
P.S.: To give you a concrete sense of the problem, consider that our call center handles all questions, from simple "what's the part number for...." to extensive applications dialogs like "I'm trying to use gas chromatography to separate two regioisomers of an 800-MW sterol and I'd like to increase my temperature but the thermostability of my column isn't rated very high; what do I do?" You can appreciate that the engineer on the second question would be hampered by answering versions of the former question. If the names of the high-level engineers are known to customers, then there's a real risk that customer will figure out their email addresses and deluge them.