Our financial services business is soon going to transition a large number of customers from our old online service platform to a new one. The new platform will have a different look and work slightly differently, so we're anticipating that many customers will be looking for support around the time of the transition.
We're hoping to use our relatively new community as a hub where we can send customers to interact with some of our early adopters who are quite passionate about the product (the new platform has been around for a little while but only for certain customers).
I'd be interested to hear from anyone with experience or ideas for managing this from a community manager perspective - strategy and planning tips would be much appreciated!
At this stage I'm thinking about incentivising some of our customer advocates to spend time in community in a support context for new customers looking for help or advice, but don't want it to seem contrived or forced - has anyone had experience rolling out a structured support plan for specific events/product launches? Would love to hear from you!
James has given some good advice. I would certainly encourage you to use your community members as beta testers before you transition the bulk of your customers to your new platform.
I would create a dedicated board for all discussion about the new platform. I would populate it beforehand with FAQs, videos and all relevant how-tos so there is lots of proactive information and it contains everything a customer would need when moving to the new platform. Initially, as James mentioned, it could be a private invitation-only board, but then you would make it public when the public roll-out commences and you would already have plenty of content there to assist the bulk of your users undertaking the migration. Obviously you would need to publicise the community and board in all your communication to customers about the new platform - eg EDMs, website, IVR, any other support documentation, etc.
Great advice here. The beta testers are a great asset. As has been mentioned, they can be on a closed forum prior to launch. During this time, we are also working with the beta testers to develop and approve case studies. That way, when we formally launch the product, we have
Most of the time, the feedback we get is "How can I be involved in the next beta?"
Sounds like you've already got your experts using the product @yvonnebrill, so next steps are how do you get them into your community, and helping people.
The pathway you'd want to take is to provide them the opportunity to participate and outline the early reward.
The big reward here is elite status, the chance to be a somebody. Which we all love.
I'd personally organise their rank and title ready to go, grab a screenshot of the stage environment with it in place and then make contact.
Outline that they are an existing expert in this stuff and you'd like to invite them to help.
Be clear about what it is "it's a place for people switching from the old to the new to ask for help"
and about what you want from them "We really need some help from people like you who know the new system so well and can compare it to the old".
And then cover off the rewards "We've got a custom title ready to identify you as one of the experts, with an icon beside your name. It'll look like this".
Give them a private board to introduce and co-ordinate with other "experts" you're bringing on as well. It'll also help them get used to the community system, how to reply etc if they are new.
And then the final piece is to make it loud and public. Post about who they are, how to recognise them and have them post in that thread to say "hi". the "Id love to help" comes on it's own.
The good news and the easy part is that when you're looking to get help from community members you're not really asking them to do something. You're providing the opportunity to do something they want to do.
If you've got the time and scope to support them ongoing you should call ou great topics and answers.
Float them to the top, publicly jump into some early conversations to support it "Wow, great advice Brian. That's a perfect explanation of how the new order system shows tracking details" etc.
And make sure you give people enough lead time to be ready to post. But not so much time as they get bored waiting. A week or 2 before you start feels pretty good. Much longer and attrition will lose your ranks.
Incentives: Cash and things with monetary value are toxic. Rewards I can't get anywhere else are worth more than gold.
I don't want a giftcard or next month free. I want a mug and a t-shirt that says the company name and expert.
I want a medal or trophy that says I was a part of the support group for the 2015 transition. I want to jump on a phone call with the regional manager to talk about the changes, and next week talk to the UX guy who designed the system to confidentially answer questions about why it looks like it does.
Hope that's of use, and a nice addition to the amazing advice above from Jason, Ray and James.