2020 Customer Awards: - Best-in-Class: Community

2020 Customer Awards: - Best-in-Class: Community

Company: NetApp, Inc.

Company background: NetApp is the leader in cloud data services, empowering global organizations to change their world with data. Together with our partners, we are the only ones who can help you build your unique data fabric. Simplify hybrid multicloud and securely deliver the right data, services and applications to the right people at the right time. Learn more at

Contact: @Drew_Claybrook

Title: Community Manager, Digital Support

Related URLs:

Kudos Award category: Best-in-Class: Community

1. Describe your community(s) and how you decided to start a community or grow/change it? (user request, Khoros suggestion, internal idea, etc.).

The goal of the NetApp Community is to optimize the support journey by continuing to evolve and improve the technology and user experience. We want to be a customer-success engine!

In 2018, the Community site owned by marketing was completely redesigned to significantly upgrade features, introduce a mobile-responsive design, and improve the user interface to increase engagement and participation. This provided enhanced access to quality content from community experts. However, after these efforts, a change in resources resulted in neglected community management responsibilities which led to an overall decline in user experience.

In late 2019, the Community responsibilities moved to the digital support organization where it’s receiving renewed attention and a direction aligned with best practices. NetApp's support strategy is built on robust Knowledge-Centered Service v6 Practices and a three-channel support structure (Assisted, Self-Serve, and Peer-to-Peer). The Community serves the peer-to-peer channel and provides insight into the customer's world while helping to reduce support ticket load.

The NetApp Community site now has the critical attention required to re-instill members' confidence. Branding has been updated to align with corporate standards, platform upgrades have been implemented, and email templates were upgraded and rebranded.


2. Tell us about how you made it happen? Did you stage it first? Who got an early look? How did you drive adoption? Did you get executive buy-in? Did you have any key iterations?

To evolve the site, we partnered with the NetApp A-Team (customers and partners) for usability testing. Many members of our advocate groups are seasoned community builders and users, and social media influencers.

Users expressed that the updated site is a great improvement compared to the previous experience. We have received many recommendations on how to further improve the community and our future roadmap includes these items in the implementation plan.

After community ownership was transitioned from the marketing team to the Digital Support organization, it regained dedicated focus and support. With sponsorship from support executive staff, the site is undergoing a “reboot” under guidance of a recently hired community manager.

One of the initiatives of the community reboot included recruiting a team of engineers to help restore customer confidence in the peer-to-peer support channel. This team engages in the community to review recently created topics and answers and to provide solutions to unresolved topics.

Not only did we reboot our community, but in the past several months, amidst the COVID-19 Pandemic, NetApp’s Digital Support Operations team has launched a completely redesigned, award-winning support site AND a gold-standard Knowledge Base.

NetApp's Digital Support Operations TeamNetApp's Digital Support Operations Team

3. What were the results? Tell us how it impacted your customer experience or the outcomes you seek as a business. Please include metrics if possible.

Community team members monitor new topics created and time spent on the site to understand content engagement. We're focused on improving response time and have added more team members to help respond in a timely manner. In addition, the team regularly reviews and analyzes metrics including the Community Health Index – a roll-up score that combines responsiveness, membership, content, liveliness, and traffic – to take action to improve where necessary.

We have featured the Community during NetApp INSIGHT events, the premier customer conference for NetApp. Community promotion and interaction is global, including engagement on social channels and blogs. At INSIGHT, we also met with customers and community users in-person at our booths at INSIGHT Barcelona and Las Vegas. We will host a virtual booth for this year’s event.

In the first part of the year, we had a site-wide response rate of 83%, with a target of 95%. Our most active forum was already at 97%. We’ve also focused on improving our accepted solution rates. Solution acceptance averaged nearly 3 weeks’ time and only covers about 35% of topics. With focused effort, we hope to raise this to at least 80% answered under a week.

Our team of engineers was selected to jump-start engagement and provide triage to community members needing solutions. With this concerted effort, our goal is to improve and maintain standard key indicators of success to build the community into a proper customer-success engine!

Since implementing the program in May, we’ve seen a handful of positive indicators:

  • Topic creation has increased by 24%
  • Average solution rate has improved by 10%
    ▪️ 34% improvement from May to June!
  • Average first response time is down 26%
  • Number of Kudos given has nearly doubled from the same period year! Content engagement is way up!

We’re not done yet! As the community grows, so will our usage of the many features and tools the Khoros platform offers. In addition to more ways to facilitate internal communications, we’ll also be introducing group hubs for our customers and partners to share their own content to help each other succeed.

We're excited to continue making improvements to our offerings to better serve our customers and partners.