I am revising our guidelines and am wondering what guidelines other companies are using for theis company. We are a B2B community that sell and support mainly through partners. Most (not all, some has support included in their agreement with us) customers pay for support.
How far do we go in answering questions in the forum? At the time all do not agree as there are supportbudgets to reach, but also we want the customer to have self service...these do not really add up.
And how about customers that has support included in their agreement? How do we get peer to peer help there, whne we so far has answered everything asap? Do you say anything about supportchannels that are prioritized? other?
Today this is our guidelines for forums for customers paying support:
Thankful for feedback on how others handle this
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I previously managed a support-based community for a software company. We had customers who paid for support as well as those who didn't.
My first goal was obviously to ensure that everyone who uses the community has a great experience so that they keep coming back, regardless of the support status.
But it's only fair that you do prioritise those that have a support contract. We certainly did. Key to this is ensuring that your customers who have a support agreement are easily identified on the community (ours had a different ranking prefix and a distinctive icon next to their username) and ensuring you have the resources to ensure their questions were answered within the SLA. Our goal was responding within 24 hours.
Following our peak periods each year, we did a lot of investigation into customers who had a paid support agreement who had used the community forum. We found the vast majority who used the community had not contacted us via other channels such as phone and livechat, despite having paid for the privilege of doing so. We thought this was a great testament to the success of the community. I would recommend you do similar research to ensure your efforts are paying dividends. However, it should be noted that at the end of the day, even if your own support team were answering every one of the support questions submitted by customers who paid for support, then you are likely to still get significant benefit from the community as potentially thousands of other customers are benefiting from reading those answers, helping to get the most from your products and increasing their satisfaction and likelihood to buy again in future. This is one of the main reasons we closed our email support channel and prioritised community.
I agree with @JasonHill on prioritizing customers on the community but also hit the constraints of not having a dedicated team to answer these posts.In order to limit my begging, I am currently doing weekly emails the support teams asking for assistance on customer posts that have not received a response. We are working to improve our situation in the not too distant future but this is where we are today.
We would like to open up the ability to identify customers on the community but have to be careful not to expose that to the public. As a result we have found a way for employees to see an icon next to a customer's thread at the board level but nothing at the post level. We are looking into gamification to see if that would allow us the ability to securely expose this to employees in a more efficient manner.
Great encouragements here. Do you consider using an escalate button and a CRM integration? @CyJervis We also have paying and non paying users. Currently we have the privilege to start build a community from scratch. Visualisations on how to discern customers from non paying users on the board level -only visible for staff - is appreciated.
@Benjamin - The escalate button and CRM integration is a great start. We have a role for customers which makes it easier for admins to see who is who but we have not given the ability to view roles to all employees because of the other permissions that go along with it. Mainly I track unanswered threads via email notification and send emails to the appropriate employees as needed. You could build a custom thread list to surface customer threads.