Business goals vs Community engagement in a Support Community

Hey folks :wave:

I’m a Community Manager a SaaS product and we’re still pretty new (soft launch in September).

Our business goals are to deflect a certain % of tickets from the Support Team, which we’re hitting comfortably, but I’m worried that it’s at the expense of more genuine engagement.

It feels like the majority of new members come in, ask the questions and then disappear. We have Experts who answer questions and are doing ok keeping them engaged, but I was wondering if anyone had tips for encouraging those folks who only join to ask one question to stay and read more topics/post/etc.

Things we’re doing currently:

  • AMA’s with important team members
  • A Tips and inspiration section where we post ideas or invite users to share tips
  • Product announcements
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For a case like this, I’d look for ways to build an “identity” into the community, shifting your members’ mindset from “I need help with this question” to more of “this is my place.” Could be the name of the community, could be a special name for the members as a group, could be personality, but I see this as more of a philosophical challenge than a feature challenge. You need to find ways to build in your community as part of your members’ routine…so they’re getting some ongoing dopamine from it.

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Thanks for the reply, @rhogroupee! That’s definitely the direction that I’d like to take things in.

I think that the challenge that I’m feeling is how to capture that for folks when they are primarily coming to the community with the goal of getting their question answered. IE how do provide enough of a sense of belonging to hook them in when they might only visit once, and with a specific goal in mind?

Have you considered doing any AMAs with the community members themselves? Making them front and center (rather than your platform or your team) will help refocus a bit. Do your customers refer to themselves with a group name (like Benedict Cumberbatch fans call themselves “Cumberbitches”?) If you adopted that same name when referring to them, it’s a good psychological cue for belonging.

@rhogroupee I’ve definitely thought about doing interviews/AMAs with members though I haven’t done any yet. It’s good to know I’m thinking in the right direction!

Our customers don’t call themselves anything, but our team members do, so maybe we can co-opt something :wink:

Thanks for your thoughts!

The SalesForce Trailblazer community is a good example of an enterprise community that’s cultivated a unique sense of identity and culture. (Keep in mind that this is the support community for SalesForce, which is a massive and popular enterprise on its own right.)

Let me ask, how supportive is your executive management of your engagement goals? If your business’ primary goal is for your community to be a support community and to hit deflection / support metrics, then that needs to be your foundational goal. You should make sure you do everything you can to prove the value of your community’s metrics in meeting and exceeding those standards: reducing speed to first answer; reducing speed to resolution; increasing the percentage of questions that get successfully answered; increasing the number of peer-resolved questions versus company reps; measuring the metrics of hits on your knowledgebase.

You’ll probably also earn bonus points from management if you can deflect and coordinate other at-scale initiatives through your community, like onboarding new clients, hosting digital trainings, etc. (and to prove the cost reductions / effectiveness of running those initiatives through community versus more traditional methods, like onsite or hosted physical events). If executive management doesn’t care about engagement, then … neither should you.

If you really, really want to pursue engagement then … get personal and emotional and build identity:

  • Ask emotionally disclosing questions like, “what’s the hardest challenge you’ve faced at work this week? what’s your fear at work? monday showcase, etc”
  • Get personal … if your community is new, you should absolutely be reaching out to them one on one to say hello, interview them, and draw them into the community. You can also post fun photos from the office ,etc. People love AMAs and interviews
  • Build identity. What makes your users or clients unique? Lean into that psychographic profile and make it fun, positive, and whimsical.

Support communities litter the Internet, so you’ll need to find a unique and compelling proposition to build engagement on a support community.

On a last note, and not to be blunt, but you’re running a support community, not Facebook. You only need to pursue ‘engagement’ to strengthen organizational goals.

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I’d ask why this is a concern. If your community is a support community and your business goal is being hit, then why do you want or need other engagement?


Sorry for the super slow reply here!

In this case, the goal is that other users will answer questions, rather than staff/mods. Users can only do that if they are around and generally engaged in the community, hence wanting to make sure that we are generating enough enthusiasm and engagement to make sure that members want to stick around to help others!

If members are asking questions and getting answers, what motivation is there for them to stick around and engage further. When I head to a support community to get product support I wouldn’t bother reading through and answering other questions unless there was a very strong motivation for me to do so.

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That’s the root of the problem. Motivating folks to hang around after their question is answered, so that they, in turn, might answer someone else’s question. Otherwise, the forum just becomes another company-driven support avenue and we don’t save resources.

The issue here is probably that you’re trying to mix a support community with a CoP. People don’t generally form emotional relationships that keep them tied to a support community.

If you view this through the eyes of your members, how would you see things? I know for a fact that I don’t get stuck using a product and think “Hey, I’ll join their community to clear the problem that’s blocking me and hopefully I’ll find something really interesting there that means I’ll prioritise time to go and help others with their questions.”