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The benefits of owning your support community

By Nicole Saunders, Manager, Community Engagement

Last updated June 24, 2019

Most companies understand the value that creating a help guide full of useful support articles brings, but hosting a branded support community is still commonly thought of as a “nice to have” rather than a necessity.

There are many surprising benefits to hosting a branded support community. Here are just a few of the ways in which owning your community can have a positive impact on customer satisfaction, product innovation and your company’s bottom line.

Leverage the best ideas no matter where they come from—customers, agents or product experts

Communities are great places for customers to ask questions and share ideas about complex topics that are best answered not just by the company, but by peers in their industry. This kind of crowd-sourced support is particularly valuable, as it can involve a variety of different perspectives, from those who are doing interesting things with your product to new customers who are just getting started.

The diverse information, experiences and perspectives shared by this audience can help users discover solutions that may not seem obvious at first. Communities are as customer-centric as support can be, giving customers an engaging venue for sharing their experiences with one another and with your company.

Zendesk customer Wrike found that crowd-sourced support from their community contained invaluable data for their support and product teams. By paying attention to and evaluating the conversations that happen in their community, they have gained insight into the product development their customers want to see. Accordingly, they improved their product roadmap based on that feedback. By owning your own community, you can more easily extract insights and engage customers about their feedback.

Build better content with the community’s help

Your users will let you know if an article isn’t helpful or does not fully answer their question—they will probably come back to the community and tell you. This is actually a great opportunity to use their feedback to improve your existing content. By monitoring the community and hearing their concerns and issues, you can enhance existing documentation to create a better customer experience for them.

Support teams can also leverage community members to generate content. At Zendesk, we invite regular contributors to write and publish their own “Tips and Tricks” on topics that they are experts in. This allows them to gain recognition in the community while building the support documentation you offer.

Here are a few examples of Tips and Tricks found in the Zendesk Community:

Create a lasting resource that can answer questions for many customers at once

When users or agents answer questions in a support community, they help create a user-generated knowledge base full of information that can help others. This ability to reach many users at once can be particularly helpful when dealing with emerging issues, new features or product updates, as customers will often have lots of feedback or similar questions. Particularly savvy companies will take great responses to frequently asked questions and integrate those answers into their official knowledge base.

Zendesk customer Coursera noted that their community forums do some of the heavy lifting for their support team. Michael Robichaud, Coursera’s Manager of Support Products, said, “The forums have provided a transparent, open place where people can discuss issues or ask questions about the product, and use the community as a resource rather than rely on 1-to-1 support, which can sometimes take longer.”

Know what your customers are saying, and make sure they’re getting good information

Let’s be honest: if customers want to talk about your product online, they’ll find somewhere to do it. They’ll often turn to social media or third-party forums, which can be a breeding ground for slanted or bad advice. They may also have conversations that you probably want to know about in places that are harder to discover.

By providing a forum for your customers to have these discussions, you can see what they are saying and actively moderate it to ensure the correct information is being shared and responded to. Customers will appreciate the company’s participation in these discussions, and it can set the right tone for others to follow.

Easily direct the community towards help resources

If your company offers help resources, such as a knowledge base or help articles, the community can be a great place to share them in context. Your customers’ questions or discussions can be directed towards the appropriate resources, via links or by sharing the content itself, to provide the answers they’re looking for. It’s a great chance to familiarise customers with your available self-service support and receive feedback on how effective it is.

As an added bonus: when your self-service support gains prominence, its SEO value increases. This means your help articles and community discussions become easier for customers to search for on Google. Support teams can take advantage of this by linking help articles within community threads and contributing to engaging discussions with helpful solutions.

These are just a few of the many benefits that hosting a branded community can create for your company. We invite you to visit the Zendesk Community to ask any questions you have about this blog or other aspects of community management, or how to build your own branded support community.

Learn more about Zendesk Gather, community-forum software that allows you to connect and collaborate with your customers.

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