Reimagining Customer Support Communities – Caty Kobe


(Sarah Hawk) #1

Caty Kobe – Community Lead at Square

The intro for Caty’s talk was explore different ideas for driving more engagement, and increasing member satisfaction in the context of great customer support.

As someone that has never managed a customer support community, Caty’s presentation interested me greatly. I’ve always been curious about the roles that relationships play in that type of environment (addressed under Customer Engagement, Issue 3). Caty’s slides were brilliant and pretty much speak for themselves, so I’ll post a link to them on SlideShare as soon as she gets them up.

How do we ensure our customers get as much value from the community as we do?

  • Customer satisfaction
  • Customer engagement
  • Technology

Customer Satisfaction

  • Satisfied customers spend more, thus attributing revenue to your program
  • Attributing revenue is key for future program support

Issue 1: It is often hard to find relevant information in support communities. If people can’t find the answer that they need in the timeframe that they need it, they will go somewhere else. There are a few key things you can do to get it right:

  • Make sure your relevancy is good by finding out what content works. Use Google to see what people are looking for. Get rid of irrelevant content (archive or unlist) that gets in the way of finding the good stuff. If it’s not going to help more than 10 people in your community then it’s probably not worth keeping. Be careful to archive, not delete.
  • Optimise titles for search and ungate useful content. People are busy and won’t log in. If you can’t do that, make sure you include a CTA (“make sure you log in because there is more!”)

Issue 2: Correct answers aren’t always easily identifiable. Waiting for customers to come back and mark a thread as solved causes pain for visitors in the mean time.

  • Mark threads as answered on behalf of users (set a time limit for them to do it themselves).

Tip: Set a reminder to do a cleanup of these. Bad data is worse than no data.

Make sure you have a ‘relief valve’ for people in case they can’t find help and become frustrated. This could be a phone number, a contact form, an email address etc

Tip: Proactive support is rare. Block out part of your week to focus on proactive actions.

Customer Engagement

Issue 1: Irritation leads to hostility

  • It is important to over-emphasise your tone. Use exclamations marks and emoticons so that people can understand your intention.
  • Provide clear and consistent moderation
  • Move escalations offline quickly

Issue 2: Low company presence in the community

  • Set clear expectations of when your team participates

Begin to show the community as a revenue driver instead of just a cost centre, as driving revenue will offset and justify the cost of active participation.
e.g: Integrate a BuyNow button throughout your community, as Element14 do.

Issue 3: Relationships are hard to nurture.
The transactional nature of support communities does not lend itself well to relationship building.

Tip: Create an off-topic area and encourage self-disclosure threads

Issue 4: Rewards don’t match advocate time investments

If you are trying to leverage advocates and super users, you need more than badges and virtual points. Figure out what they would appreciate. Provide training to ensure answers meet your standards and remember that time is money. Look at GiffGaff’s payback model.

The money you spend rewarding advocates is always going to be less than it would cost to get a full time employee, so you can afford to be more generous than you might think.


Issue 1: We don’t optimise for lurkers
Visitors are a primary audience of a support community - don’t write them off.

Tip: Audit your community for distracting elements and enable features that enhance the reading experience

Discourse does a great job of that:

Issue 2: We don’t prioritise customer preferences
Most decisions are made based on what works best within our existing infrastructure.

Tip: Audit member behaviour, look at device use, survey members, ask for preferences.

Caty and I were colleagues at FeverBee for several months before she left to work at Square, but we’d never met in the flesh, so this was a great opportunity for us. Because Caty’s talk was nothing to do with the community she manages, rather than a screen shot I thought it might be more appropriate to share this photo of us sightseeing on the ferry over to Manly beach.

Swarm 2015
Facebook vs forums – platform needs analysis
(rhogroupee) #2

Thanks for sharing this, can’t wait to see the slides too. She hits the nail on the head.

(Steve Bridger) #3

Thanks, @HAWK… some really good stuff in here.

Nicely done @catykobe

(catykobe) #4

Aw, @HAWK, I really love this photo! I’m so, SO glad we were finally able to meet in person at SWARM. Looking forward to seeing you in SF this fall too! :relaxed:

Thanks for the kind words @rhogroupee & @stevebridger! Here’s the link to the presentation. Hope you enjoy it:

(Jessie Schutz) #5

Hey @HAWK! @nic_says_hi and I really like this slide deck…is there any chance that the presentation was also recorded? We’d really love to listen to it! I think it would be extremely relevant to some of the stuff we’re working on right now.

(Sarah Hawk) #6

It wasn’t I’m afraid. :frowning:

Caty is super helpful though – I’m sure she’d answer any questions that you have.

(Katelyn MacKenzie) #7

I am so happy to find this! With my new role (1 week into it) I will be trying to take customer support to a new level. We already manage via social media for all of our products, but a majority of our support is through the phones. We are wanting to direct more of that traffic to something more personal than a chat box. But I will have to start writing up a presentation for the “Why we should” have a forum community!

(Sarah Hawk) #8

This will help :slight_smile:

(Lucas Miller) #9

THANK YOU!!! This is amazing and covers quite a bit of ground. I am adding it to my growing list of resources for my customer service community. :slight_smile:

(Lucas Miller) #10

Cool! I am new(ish) to my job as a community manager as well and am just finalizing some things for a customer support community launch next month! I’m sure you have a vast list of resources and this community is a HUGE resource itself. But, if you need someone who has recently been in your shoes and need to bounce ideas off of, I’m here!

Good luck! :slight_smile:

(Sarah Hawk) #11

@ale_fattorini is a great person to chat to about product support communities. He’s got lots of experience and is always happy to share his ideas.

(Kristen Gastaldo) #12

Let me know if you’d like to chat! My first community was a customer only support channel with ideation. Our goals were around case/call avoidance, response rate and time to answer, % of customer base using community, and % of ideas implemented per quarter.

(Katelyn MacKenzie) #13

Thank you!! I love collaboration, so I will hit you up on that! We are using Lithium for our Social Support team, which is what I lead now, but the idea is to get the forum idea running and have a soft launch before January!

(Katelyn MacKenzie) #14

Thank you!! That is a huge goal of ours!! Thats what we are tracking for ROI right now with our Social Support team. We have a few tricky factors that can make an open community get ugly, but I am looking at how to have the customers responding to questions or using our Knowledge Center be their guide with articles that I can post in response.

(Alessio Fattorini) #15

My community is an Open Source community, so we basically develop our software together and at the same time we support our users. What do you need specifically? How can I help you? :slight_smile:

(catykobe) #16

Glad you enjoyed it! Thanks for the kind feedback. :blush:

(catykobe) #17

Hi y’all! If you have questions… I’m happy to answer! I’m notorious for being a lurker in most communities I join (ironic, I know), but @mention me with any questions. Also would love to hear of any new learnings/ ideas folks have had over the last 18 months? How are we innovating with our customer communities?