Reducing Support Costs by Turning to the Community (PDF)


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What are all those numbers cited in customer satisfaction surveys? Are they on the level, or just enthusiasm gone wild? What's the best way to measure the success (or failure) of community, anyhow? What can you accomplish? What's realistic? How do you measure community involvement with numbers? Our second Webcast will deal with the benefits of crowdsourcing and how they might be more successfully measured. We'll talk about how others have done it and how you can do it for your own organization. Come and play the numbers game with us, get your community mobilized, and get them helping out with the help.

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Reducing Support Costs by Turning to the Community (PDF)

  1. 1. Reducing Support Costs by Turning to the Community Welcome back to those of you who joined us last time. And welcome to those of you joining us for the first time. Thanks for taking the time out of your day. I'm Amy Muller, co-founder & Chief Community Oficer of Get Satisfaction and we're broadcasting live from Get Satisfaction headquarters in San Francisco. Once again, I've got our community manager, Eric Suesz here with me, behind the scenes manning the chatroom. Feel free to post questions to Eric. He'll forward them to me and I may answer some along the way as they relate to the content. We'll also have a QA session at the end. And please remember to stay on topic and play nice.
  2. 2. Understand: Lifecycle of a customer community How each part enables support savings Ways to measure success This is the second in a series of webcasts that we're doing focused on enhancing your community and getting more value out of Get Satisfaction. Today I'm talking about Reducing Support Costs by turning to the community. What we're talking about here is really the life cycle of a thriving community that actually saves you time and money -- as well as what it takes to get there.
  3. 3. Measuring Success Historically, customer service has often been synonymous with customer avoidance -- the idea being that the quicker you get customers off the phone, the quicker you disengage from them, the more money you save. quot;How many emails can I answer in an hour?quot; So then I buy tools that help me answer more emails in an hour. Outsourced call centers. Trouble ticket systems where your responses can be scripted out. These systems have their place, however, if you start with a premise of customer avoidance not only will you not be building a community, you'll also potentially decay long term savings because you'll lose some of those customers.
  4. 4. Net Promoter Score It's notable that companies with great customer service don't measure those things -- they measure other things. Take Zappos for example -- They measure how quickly they can answer the phone rather than how quickly they can get o the phone. They measure NPS -- which stands for Net Promoter Score and is used to gauge the loyalty of your company's customers by asking quot;How likely is it that you would recommend this company to a friend?quot; [Want to know more about NPS? Wikipedia: ] [A great book about NPS called quot;The Ultimate Questionquot;: groupCode=2] Thinking about time cost savings with community requires having a combination of metrics that will absolutely include a decrease in repetitive support but by virtue of actually increasing customer engagement. The traditional metric of number of customer touch points is not a valid one. So how do you measure success with a community?
  5. 5. MEASURING SAVINGS Support Staff Traditional Community Number of customers Non-linear scaling of support The approach to discussing savings through community is to think about moving from a linear scaling model to a non-linear one. With traditional support channels, the number of employees needed to support your customers scales linearly as your customer base grows. By having public interactions where you can answer a question once for many people which then becomes content that attracts even more people to the conversation you are getting value on several levels.
  6. 6. Tara Hunt how-do-you-measure-the-health-of-a-community/ Another metric is measuring the health of your community. As Tara Hunt wrote about a few years back, quot;When it comes to community measurements, you can’t always think in terms of volume...quot; Tara goes on to say how it's a combination of qualitative and quantitative data. It's things like engagement and likability and just gut instincts about what's working and how well. What are some real basic ways you save time money with a public customer support community?
  7. 7. 1. When managing a crisis ... respond once and definitively to put your best foot forward.
  8. 8. 2. Answering common questions ... not everyone looks at the faq.
  9. 9. 3. Customers helping other customers ... value here is obvious.
  10. 10. 4. And even answering the long-tail questions ... just because it's not a common question doesn't mean that answering won't create value for more people. Most community conversations revolve around the longtail of support interactions. For instance, this one for the Humbolt Transit Authority asking whether riders can take a dog on the bus. There's an answer from an employee, but it's followed by several nuanced answers by other bus riders. Some other types of longtail issues might be: How do you use your product in this very particular circumstance? I have this unique idea for you. I have this problem with using your product in my unique set up.
  11. 11. A great example comes from a few years back in the Zappos community email group. A customer asked what was the best tennis shoe for a prosthetic leg. Now that's a question that an employee is not likely to know how to answer. But you put it out to a community and suddenly you've got other customers in similar circumstances giving advice. These are the ways that a support community can really shine because your customers will use your products a million dierent ways and it's unlikely that you'll know every iteration of every application of your product or service. An engaged customer community can really save you time and money with this long-tail of issues.
  12. 12. THE FOUR Cs OF CUSTOMER COMMUNITY CONNECT CULTIVATE CURATE CARE It's also important to keep in mind that what you measure and how you measure might be dierent depending on the kind of company you are. There may be measurements that are unique to your company and customer community. So how do you start experiencing the benefits of community customer support? You can't measure something until you have a thing to measure. And how do you get that thing? We've broken it down to the four C's.
  13. 13. THE FOUR Cs Connect Your Customers With Your Community Connect - your customers with your community space Don't put your community in a box. It needs to be pervasive. Weave it through the user experience. Initially, there's no community. Let's be frank about that. When you start these eorts, there may be a latent community -- it's there but it's currently unexpressed. The first thing you need to do is bring it to life. Get your customers where they're most engaged.... if they always go straight to email it's a lost opportunity. Additionally, we often see companies set up a support community on Get Satisfaction and then post a welcome topic, soliciting feedback. Then they wait. And wait. Thinking the community is just going to appear out of thin air. Well, unfortunately, you can't just add water. You actually have to tell your customers about it. You need to connect your customers with your community. How do you do this?
  14. 14. It starts in your products: With feedback widgets...
  15. 15. With a Feedback widget you can get input or questions from your customers right then there when they're at your site and thinking about it.
  16. 16. On a help page, surfacing what your community is talking about right now. Like this live topic widget TypePad has integrated into their help page.
  17. 17. Or a dynamic search box which lets people find the things which matter to them right now. And it will suggest similar issues as your customers type in the box.
  18. 18. You can add contextual links as well like we've done in our Admin section which surfaces topics specifically geared toward company employees. You can build your own widgets on this page:
  19. 19. And then you need to reach out to where your customers are: On your blog: Such as Boxee did by announcing their customer community so their customers know where to go to share ideas and keep tabs on Boxee's development.
  20. 20. On Twitter: Many companies use Twitter to reach out to their customers in several ways including letting them know there's a customer support community to go to get help and give feedback.
  21. 21. And by reaching out to people wherever they're interacting currently, you end up at places like Facebook. And as your customers communicate to you there, it's also broadcast out to all their friends following their feed.
  22. 22. On Get Satisfaction we have a feature called Overheard which is a stream of tweets based on your company's name and any other key words you've added to the settings. You can grab any of those tweets and turn them into topics in your Get Satisfaction community. The original author of the tweet receives an @ reply message letting them know they have a response with a link to that response. You can then have a deeper conversation with them about the topic and one that other customers can join in on too. Here a customer tweeted about being done w/ Synthasite (who have recently changed their name to Yola). The employee asked why and the customer explained that his needs had changed but then said he hoped to use them again in the future.
  23. 23. MEASURE #1 Email 10% Community 43% Trouble Tickets 46% Portion of Support Traffic Measurements for success: Portion of support trafic A useful measure in the connection portion of building the support community is to track how eective you are at converting trafic from one channel to another. The goal is to increase the proportion from your email or trouble ticket system to your community. Of course there is some portion that needs to stay in the email channel but the idea is to move some portion out. How you measure this: Track touches from each channel, analytics (Google analytics or built-in tracking) for community, tickets, call logs or emails for other. Web quot;issuesquot; will be inferred, since people won't post already- posted issues as much, so there are some soft numbers there. We've had customers who have put their community widget in front of their email form or trouble ticket system and have reported a significant reduction in the amount of trafic flowing into those more traditional channels. Here's a sample of the kind of graph you might create to visualize these measurements.
  24. 24. THE FOUR Cs Cultivate Conversations Cultivate - conversations So, initially you're directing customers to your community and perhaps even encouraging them to participate in the community before directing them to other support channels. Secondly, you're responding publicly. There won't be a bunch of users sitting around waiting to answer questions because, initially, there's nothing going on. What you want is to have people posting their questions, problems, ideas publicly so you can respond and this then becomes the basis for conversation. And it's at this stage that you want to be as quick to respond as possible. As I mentioned in my talk about the 10 Commandments of community management, in the early stages, your customers will be more likely to stay engaged with your community if they see that you are engaged and that they'll get a rapid response. When you're first starting out, the issues will be a range of the obvious bread butter questions you've always gotten. For us - how do I add employees to my company account? Are you going to make an international version? You know what yours are and once you've answered them, they become part of your dynamic knowledgebase. You get the savings there by doing it in public and in a way that people can find it. Unlike, in a more traditional trouble ticket system - your job isn't merely to answer the question and close the issue, but to compel ongoing conversation. Having said that, you do want to give people the results they want as quickly as possible. And remember that when you're answering for one customer, you're also answering that same question for countless others.
  25. 25. Here's an example of a customer of Whole Foods who was using a Whole Foods recipe and bought all the ingredients at the store. They made the dish, thought it was delicious but had a question about the water content. The Whole Foods community manager got some expert advice for this customer from someone in their recipes division. And by the nature of this question and answer being public, it is both helpful to other customers AND it's an open conversation that might receive additional insights and advice from others who have had similar experiences. So the steps to cultivating conversation? 1. Get the person a result 2. Do it in a way that is useful for other people 3. At this stage, don't worry about closing conversations. There are a couple interesting reasons for this 1. more engagement is better for cultivating community -- it gives you the crowdsourcing benefits down the road 2. there may actually be more than one answer to the question or solution to the problem. For instance, someone may ask UPS quot;How long does it take to ship to canada?quot; UPS will have their oficial answer, but then you may have anecdotal answers from customers around the globe.
  26. 26. MEASURE #2 Repetitive Issues Before After 0 17.5 35.0 52.5 Measurements for success: Repetitive questions reduction - Having a sense of what percentage of your issues were repetitive before gives you a baseline for measuring the drop in this percentage over time as your customers turn to your community support.
  27. 27. MEASURE #3 Time To Response (in hours) Before After 0 2.5 5.0 Responsiveness - Over time you want to measure how quickly it takes for the question to be answered by *somebody* whether it's by you or by someone in the community.
  28. 28. THE FOUR Cs Curate The Content Curate - the content So you've got the conversations going and now you want to surface these customer conversations in places that are likely to pull in other customers. So where as in the first part, we're trying to redirect people w/ issues to a public place to post them. Here, we're exposing the conversations to people who are likely to participate, to chime in. Use this raw activity to reach out to people who are your subject matter experts - your natural champions to enhance engagement. We do this by organizing the content into more meaningful chunks. There is an internal view of your interactions and content--how does what people are saying map to the way your team views the product or the market. We'll be talking about that in an upcoming webcast about how to use community for product development and innovation. What we care about here is organizing content in a way that your customers will find more meaningful. One way to do this is to gather your team together and look at the feedback and issues as a whole, and pattern- match them into groups. You might find that many people are having trouble with logging-in, or figuring out how to use that new feature. You can tag these ...
  29. 29. Curate the content with tags to assist with discovery of useful and applicable content. For instance, in the Get Satisfaction customer community, I have created several quot;how toquot; style topics. I've given them a variety of tags, including the tag quot;learnquot;. So now I can send a customer to a url for the tag learn and they get a list of my help topics. We also tag any topics we get with suggestions for a user dashboard with the tag quot;user dashboardquot;. When the product team is ready to start redesigning this piece of our site, they can easily aggregate all that valuable feedback from our customers to inform their design decisions and reach out to the already engaged community members in those conversations for more insight and feedback. I can even create a widget based o a particular tag. You post that widget in an applicable place on your web site where your customers are engaged and you pull them into the conversations. We've even got a new version of our Feedback Widget coming where you can pre-populate it with a tag. If you want feedback on a particular feature, you can tag it with the feature name and then keep that content organized. And if you have multiple products you can of course organize the content around each product both on the web site and in our forthcoming update to the Feedback Widget.
  30. 30. MEASURE #4 Engagement, Volume Measurements for success: Engagement Volume - How many topics were created. How many replies on average to you get per topic? Return visits. Total number of visitors -- at this stage, volume does start to play into it because you want to expand and grow the community on it's own merits. Which brings us to our fourth quot;Cquot;....
  31. 31. THE FOUR Cs Care For Your Community Care - for your community So how do you care for your community? Well, everything you've done to connect, cultivate and curate has given you a good start. Now you want your community to feel cared for, to feel eective and to stay engaged. You want to find creative ways to connect with your customers -- whether it's brainstorming ideas, connecting customers with each other, pulling in experts to answer their questions, soliciting feedback and countless other ways to foster and thus reap benefits from your customer community.
  32. 32. You can even come up with clever ways to keep your customers engaged AND informed at the same time. For instance Yola hosted a song competition that asked users to write a song featuring the top 2 FAQs. In this way they were engaging their customers in a fun activity while also reminding them of some basic requirements for using their product. Share your road map or feature plans with your community and let them weigh in. Your community is like one big, free focus group. Use it -- they want to be involved in the evolution of your products and services.
  33. 33. Here, Adobe is taking ideas from their users to understand new opportunities there might be in new markets. And you can actually ask specific questions of your community. And as I talked about in our last web cast -- assemble your Justice League. Identify the champions in your community; the users who are helping you by helping others. These are people who are naturally invested in being a part of your community. They could be regular blog readers, subscribers to your RSS feed, Twitter followers, even people looking for a job at your company, or just customers you've identified through their interactions in your community. Whoever they are, identify them and reward them. Through recognition on the site. Reaching out - staying in communication with them. Make sure they feel appreciated. Send them t-shirts. Have them come to your ofice and meet the team. Give them access to new products - make them beta testers. Give them a special ear. These people don't do it for that reason and may be bashful about accepting gifts, but making the gesture speaks volumes about how you value their role in your community. Getting to this part - where you've got a vibrant engaged community with natural leaders who have risen to the top and who you can tap for additional support - is kind of the holy grail. It's not easy to do and at Get Satisfaction we'll be continuing to evolve to better support this kind of participation and engagement.
  34. 34. MEASURE #4 Sentiment Measurements for success: NPS/Sentiment We think sentiment is really important which is why we built in dierent ways to capture that. At the topic level with our quot;satisfactometerquot; which asks the customer to tell you how they're feeling by selecting an emoticon and even expressing a unique feeling in words as they're posting their topic. And our Net Promoter Score which I mentioned earlier which helps you collect that same kind of sentiment but at a company level. Both of these are key ways to understand how people are feeling about your company and to gauge trends in the community -- are you doing better? is your customer satisfaction up or down?
  35. 35. THE FOUR Cs OF CUSTOMER COMMUNITY CONNECT CULTIVATE CURATE CARE Integrate Produce results Define curation Reward active community into strategy members products Make answers re-usable Push content to Encourage Reach out to right places connections at customers Leave topics the long tail open METRICS Repetition Engagement Sentiment Share of Support Response Time Volume NPS With community there are at least two goals. One may be reducing cost and time: You do this through harnessing the value of public interactions for managing crises; for responding to common questions once for the benefit of many; and through customers helping each other - particularly with longtail issues. But just as important, if not more important, is actually breeding customer engagement which, in turn breeds customer retention. So remember your four quot;Cquot;s: Connect to bring people to your community; Cultivate by answering publicly; Curate the content to make it meaningful and findable; and Care to help nurture the natural dynamics of your customer community.
  36. 36. NEXT WEBCAST: APRIL 22, 2009 Who are the people in your neighborhod? I want to thank you so much for attending. Please join us in two weeks on April 22nd, 10 a.m. PT at http:// for our next live webcast quot;Who are the People in your neighborhoodquot; where we'll talk about the unique types of people and common situations you'll run into in your customer community. There should be a registration link here on
  37. 37. on twitter at Feel free to email or Tweet me with any questions or feedback. Thanks for your time!