In today’s digital ecosystem, it’s a requirement to have a community page. No matter what industry you find your brand or company in, having a place for your customers to talk about your business, find support, or ask questions is necessary. Long before Khoros was Khoros, the founders deeply understood the importance of digital communities. It’s easy to hark about how much value you can pull from having an award-winning community. However, few articles and resources are diving deep into exactly why brands are finding these high levels of value and success with their digital communities. This article aims to change that.
Of course, it would be a misstep not to recognize some essential realities of running a digital community. The initial bottom line is that running a community costs money. There is no escaping or not paying the hosting, designing, security, and general staffing costs. It could cost anywhere from the low tens of thousands to millions of dollars a year.
As the intrepid new community, you might find yourself needing to garner more executive support. You have to consider not only why people use community pages but also how you will find value in all aspects of the customer experience by having a highly successful community.
Care and Community Utilizes Human Desire to Help one Another
Khoros and several of our customers have proven that customers in need of support rarely care where they receive that support. In regard to digital communities, one of the most engaging types of posts is a support question. Even Google’s algorithm will point customers toward a digital community to answer product or service-related questions.
This system is adventitious for whichever brand or company owns the community page, but why would any customer spend their valuable time and resources answering strangers' questions on an online forum?
For some community managers, this question isn’t of massive importance. It’s extra work and research to understand why customers answer strangers’ questions in digital communities. However, if your community page starts slipping towards inactivity, you find yourself struggling to understand why your page isn’t being used as much anymore.
People tend to help one another for various reasons, but it generally breaks down to our evolutionary hardwiring. This will defer slightly from intrinsic and extrinsic motivations, but the rewards are generally the same. One of the most significant motivating factors is that humans are generally socially ousted for being a “freeloader” or “lurker” in communities or social settings.
In Sebastian Junger’s sociology exploration book Tribe., this isn't a new concept. He explores how helping your fellow human was quite literally law in most of ancient society, saying -
“This [helping in social setting] is clearly an ancient and adaptive behavior that tends to keep groups together and equitably cared for. In his survey of ancestral-type societies, Boehm [Anthropologist Christopher Boehm] found that - in addition to murder and theft - one of the most commonly punished infractions was “failure to share.” Freeloading on the hard work of others and bullying were also high up on the list.”
This concept is the gateway to explaining why humans and, by extension, your customers are beyond willing to help one another. In a digital community, customers are rewarded with likes, shares, and comments when they go out of their way to help their fellow customers. On the flip side, several online communities will punish “lurkers” or people who contribute nothing to the community by deactivating their accounts, ending specific permissions or abilities, or even straight bans for inactivity.
Now, as a cunning community manager, you could greatly reward certain users for being the most active or providing the most support in the community. This was best seen at Khoros through the Powerschool community.
Powerschool needed to implement several new processes and chatbots in the support side of their community. The most effective way for Powerschool to test and implement their new community processes was to invite the Community super-users or ‘mentors’ to test alongside their development team and make suggestions in real-time.
Using Boehm’s theory of ancient humans punishing one another for non-sharing, your community could promote an event to invite the most active user’s to a new digital event or beta test.
Powerschool showed that you would most likely see a surge of sign-ups and community engagement by rewarding the users who engage the most with your audience.
By the Numbers
A healthy, well-used community is almost certainly good for business. In qualitative terms, your new fancy community will improve your NPS scores; your general customer sentiment will improve, and if you do everything right, you might receive some free marketing across the social media ecosystem.
In terms of quantitative results, let's look at a care instance. A care instance in the North American region receives, on average, 100 contacts a day. This care team just linked the brand’s community page to their self-service suite. Because the community users and community articles simply solve at least 40% of the care team’s daily questions, your care team’s volume will be greatly reduced, plain and simple.
The bottom line is that by simply using a Khoros-crafted community, you should be able to link both your community and care teams together in one unified system to improve almost all aspects of your customer’s experience.
For more resources and to expand your knowledge, please visit the links below!
Taking Dr. Micheal Wu’s Gamification Theory into the Real World
[Podcast] Gamification in the Wild: Giving back to build Brand Loyalty
[Podcast] Lurkers vs. Learners: Renaming Community Members Who Listen
The Hybrid Future is Here: Let’s modernize your agent's experience
SANE Australia case study | Khoros
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Years ago, long before Khoros was Khoros and was simply Lithium technologies, a rather curious and beautiful theory was introduced into the world of digital communities. The idea was that if you added some version of gamification and the proper motivation to community users, the digital community would outperform most of its competitors.
Gamification floats through various strategies and online communities, but what exactly is gamification in the context of digital communities? In as few words as possible, it is the process of rewarding users with digital badges and increased access or features in the community.
Gamification is a prime example of using extrinsic rewards versus intrinsic rewards to influence more people to use a community page. Former Lithium data scientist Dr. Michael Wu explored this concept concerning gamification back in 2014. All of Wu’s findings are far beyond the scope of this one article, but in short, Wu theorized that you could use both intrinsic and extrinsic rewards in the gamification of a community page.
If you are not familiar with intrinsic and extrinsic motivations a
nd rewards, Wu said it best in his original article:
“An intrinsic reward is an intangible award of recognition, a sense of achievement, or a conscious satisfaction. For example, it is the knowledge that you did something right, or that you helped someone and made their day better. An extrinsic reward is an award that is tangible or physically given to you for accomplishing something. It is a tangible recognition of one's endeavor. For example, it’s a certificate of accomplishment, a trophy or medal for winning the race, a badge or points for doing something right, or even a monetary reward for doing your job.”
This theory applies to almost every single human interaction or action. The key difference between the two motivation and reward systems is longevity. Generally speaking, intrinsically motivated people will almost always continue to perform an action or task. A great example of this is the super users of a community page without any game theory applied.
The super-users will continuously engage with a community page because they genuinely love to use the website. However, according to the Nielsen group, only 1% of all website users will seriously contribute to the page.
For the other 99% of the community, the question that Wu was aiming to answer was what would motivate them to start engaging with the website. His answer was to use game theory to increase extrinsic rewards and motivation.
This can be done simply by adding more features, rewards, and badges that you can proudly display as a community user. Khoros customer Pandora did this exceptionally well. So, what exactly did Pandora do?
Pandora embraced game theory in a wonderfully organic way. At the start of introducing the Pandora community, users were already looking for ratings. By adding a simple ranking system, Pandora could tap into extrinsic motivation models found in most humans. A simple need to be recognized in a social setting.
The following elegant practice Pandora put into place was giving greater access to their super-users. Within the first months of launching the Pandora community, the community manager, Erick Linares, noticed that a specific user was fully invested in using the community. This super-user was already displaying intrinsic motivation to use Pandora. In turn, Linares gave this user a moderator role and seriously increased access and judgment to what can and can’t be published or discussed on the website and other traditional moderator rules.
The result for Pandora was an upswing in relationship building between other community users. This technic refers to Michael Wu’s theory on extrinsic versus intrinsic motivation. Using the community made users feel good. By feeling good, the user set off to build new digital relationships, which made them and their new digital friends feel good, creating a positive user feedback loop of both intrinsic and extrinsic rewards and bringing people together in the Pandora community.
Watch this webinar to learn more about how exactly Pandora built their community with Khoros!
How to translate rewards to other styles of communities
It is a fair assumption to say that Pandora had a much simpler time energizing its user base. Everyone loves music, and having a place to talk about their favorite artists or events or using the community to solve software issues will naturally draw people in.
However, few people will choose to use a community that centers around laundry detergent. If a non-entertainment brand aims to reach the levels of engagement as a brand such as Pandora, this would be a big step.
If you are an electronics or household appliances brand, building a well-designed and highly functional community page is still wise. It’s smarter to focus on extrinsic rewards for your customers and employees.
It’s vital to focus on the extrinsic rewards of a household appliance community because chances are high that your community base is logging into your website for direct support questions and not much else. So, if your community base is only going to log on when there is a problem, how could you get them to return to the website continuously?
According to Wu and game theory, adding something as simple as a badge system for those who give the best answers or answer questions the most could be a good start in giving people great extrinsic rewards and motivation to log back on.
To add to Michael Wu’s theory and gamification, video games provide further evidence that game theory could be the missing puzzle piece in increasing community engagement. Originally published in the Computers and Human behavior scientific journal, a group of researchers questioned how reward systems would influence test subjects while playing a simple video game. Their findings speak for themselves:
“We found that the high rewards condition (with the greatest amount and diversity of rewards) was rated by players as being the most enjoyable, creating the greatest sense of presence and immersion, and causing them to expend the most effort while playing. Interestingly, the differing amount of rewards did not seem to influence players’ sense of competence nor tension while playing.”
While it can be a challenging balance of providing a well-designed community while not making it too much like a ‘silly’ game, the researchers' findings prove that most people enjoy as many rewards as reasonably included.
The Khoros Effect
Khoros is known for building outstanding communities. Pandora, Samsung, and various travel brands are built on Khoros’ ability to build communities. A complete how-to guide to build your community from scratch is far beyond the scope of this article, but as you sit down with your brand’s team and the Khoros professional service team, keep in mind what Michael Wu and Pandora did by transforming your community user’s motivations.
Explore more Khoros Resources to learn more about digital communities!
Intrinsic vs. Extrinsic Rewards (and Their Differences from Motivations)
Do You Even Deserve It? - Atlas
Khoros and Pandora Community webinar
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Since the start of digital communities, it has been known that they can be powerful beyond measure for brands imploring their use. However, due to their rapid growth, creating the right processes and governance structures can be a serious challenge. To explore digital communities more, I sat down with Lisa Bidder, Customer Solutions Director and former Strategist & Community Manager, to get the inside scoop on the challenges and opportunities brands can find with digital communities.
Can you tell me a little bit about your background and why you chose to come to Khoros?
Ooh, great question. I didn't choose to come to Khoros, there was no career plan. I got into online communities as a gamer. I’ve been gaming since Chuckie Egg, 1986 I think, I was a little obsessed with it. I was away from it for a while, work, life, being a girl, all got in the way, but got back into it when my children were young, that's when I started using online forums and communities. I wasn't working at the time because the children were young and I found myself volunteering to moderate and administrate, and just very quickly got into [community] managing gaming communities, ended up building my own (XboxGameZone) and found myself, somewhat by accident, consulting others on their communities and how to do it. Long story short, before I knew it I was working in the games industry doing something that I absolutely loved. I’d had a variety of different jobs over the years that paid the bills, but weren’t particularly interesting, it was just work that paid the bills. But there I had a variety of responsibilities, setting up online gaming tournaments, managing the community, and doing some work on their social channels. I was in that role, with a variety of responsibilities for quite a long time when someone I worked with moved to what was then lithium. They knew I’d been looking for something more challenging and said this was the place to be, so I applied for the job and I'm still here because they were right.
What were some of your challenges when you were community managing?
The challenges I experienced probably all circle back to the result of a lack of process in some way, shape, or form. I'll give you two very specific examples that are vastly different, but both came back to a total lack of processes in the organization, the way it was structured and the maturity of the community, and how it existed within the business at that time. One of them, we were experiencing a variety of problems and as I dug in I realised there was absolutely no governance over access and permissions within the community.
So anybody could do anything?
The normal community members could do all of the things that they were supposed to do, this wasn’t true for others. It was a very large organization, there were lots of people within the business, who had a need to use the community as well as a large team of volunteer moderators, but when they would say to someone, hey, can you give me access? Somebody, somewhere in the business who already had administrator access to the entire platform, and so could effectively delete the community in one click, would go and give that person the exact same permissions, full admin! So we ended up with 10s and hundreds of people with very high-level permissions and access in the community to do things they didn't need to do, people were accidentally doing things they didn't intend to do, which created a lot of work, and then some people's accounts were being compromised, and used to do things that disrupted the community, things they shouldn't have ever been able to do. It was a huge problem that really ultimately came down to a lack of processes and governance over the access and permissions of the community platform.
A very different problem we went through, but again, came down to a lack of process, we were having some issues with a particular member of the community. The moderation team had been managing it, but it escalated one weekend when we realised the member was in a mental health crisis. This was about 15 years ago, the world was a different place, people's attitudes to mental health issues were not what they are now, and the awareness around these issues simply didn't exist. But this member was absolutely in the midst of a mental health crisis, they had threatened to take their own life to a moderator. The moderator came to me and some of the other managers and said, hey, what do I do? And we realized that we had no escalation point at all. We didn't know what we were supposed to do. So we kind of scrambled around, made some phone calls to their local emergency services, and really had very little choice but to then sit back and hope that those phone calls had the desired effect. It was a very long few weeks following that, because the user didn't come back to the community for a good few weeks. Nobody knew what happened. And if they were okay. Thankfully, they did come back.
Would you say that having that lack of escalation points or processes to deal with real-world stuff was like a big pitfall that your community was dealing with?
Yes. And I don't think it was an exceptional situation. At the time. I think it was true of many communities 20 years ago that were growing rapidly and becoming a bedrock of large organizations, the speed with which these communities were growing and the reliance the business was increasingly having on them, it escalated at such a rapid pace. I don't think the challenges we faced were unique given the speed at which community was growing. A lot of organizations were finding themselves in a position where the communities were bigger and dealing with these kinds of challenges. But there hadn't been any kind of opportunity to really take a step back and question what processes and governance needed to be in place to support the scale and the scenarios that you find yourself dealing with, the situations drove the creation of the processes.
If there was something that you could have changed about the way that your former Community was managed and run, what would have you changed?
Process and governance 100%. You know, when our teams are launching customers today, what we're often saying is to create this documentation, these processes and policy, we’re telling you to have a crisis plan that we hope you never need. You're maybe gonna question why am I spending this time creating this thing I hope I never need. Hopefully, you never need them, but, there may come a time when you do and it is a great deal less painful to deal with those challenges, if and when they arise if you have done that groundwork. That groundwork saves you as an organization, your members, and your employees, it helps everybody feel in control, and know what they need to do when that problem arises. Focus on addressing the issue rather than having that sudden panic ‘I know we need to do something, but I don't know what we need to do’.
What does Khoros do differently in your experience?
I think that we bring to the table, the blend of an enterprise-level platform, with enterprise-level experience. We know the scenarios you may face, and we hope you never do. But, we can help you plan and build those foundations into your community strategy. So that you can be successful. We know that problems arise. Those problems in themselves aren't really the issue. The challenge is knowing what to do and how to do it when those issues arise, that we bring the expertise to the table that answers those questions, that address those challenges, and crucially, we're not trying to be gatekeeper to that. We're sharing our methodology and transferring that knowledge and expertise so that the brand isn't reliant on us after they've launched. They're able to take control of those challenges when they arise, although they can leverage our support, obviously, if they need it.
What are some of the best and worst ways you've seen a community be used?
When I was a community member, about 20 years ago, one of the community members actually was US based, they’d had some medical problems, found themselves in financial difficulty, and were being threatened with foreclosure on their home. The community actually did some crowdfunding before crowdfunding was a thing. We all collected some money together, and were able to collect enough money to cover a few months of their payments, and hold off the foreclosure. That gave them the time to breathe and actually get themselves back to where they needed to be so they didn't lose their home. So that is definitely the best. I think it brings people together in a way that we often see in the real world, but people often don't expect in an online digital environment.
The worst, I think, if I'm honest, is when brands don't truly understand the power of the community and embrace it. I saw a community user post on a community some years ago, expressing some frustration with a challenge they were having, not an uncommon situation where you contact a brand and you say, I need to solve this problem. You get sent in one direction, and then they send you in another direction. And before you know it, you're going around in circles, so they went to the community and said, hey, this is rubbish. Come on somebody like someone just needs to help me. Can we fix this?
I think it was a really good opportunity where the brand could have said, hey, you know, this isn't great is it let's, let's see how we can solve this for you. Unfortunately, what actually happened is that somebody from the brand posted on the community and said the community is a space for people to share positive stories, so I'm going to lock this thread and if you've got a complaint, please report it on this form. Honestly, I think sometimes when brands know the power of community, they want it to be that positive experience. They sometimes forget that actually, the reason the communities are so powerful for the brand and the users is that everybody embraces the opportunity to be transparent and open about challenges. They become nervous of having those honest conversations, they're fearful sometimes that if we're open and honest, people might say things we don't want to hear. And that fear can lead them to shutting those conversations down.
In short, it’s vital that you build your moderation and governance structures at the same pace as your online community grows. Of course, it’s not the simplest thing to build, and every community is different. Which is why Khoros will support you every step of the way in building your digital space.
For more information about Khoros communities please visit the links below!
Atlas Series: Reward & Recognition
Tips & Tricks to Improve Success Rate
The single most important KPI of your Community
Gamification Best Practices from 3 Leading Brands
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Don't have time to read? Check out this audio version of our blog, also found on your favorite podcast platform!
Everyone has had those horrid travel days. Everything seems to go wrong. You forget your passport, your wallet, or worse still, you forget your headphones. Nothing seems to top off a bad travel experience than a flight getting canceled or having a hotel lose your room reservation
Unfortunately for millions of people in recent memory, having a flight canceled is practically baked into the travel plans. The frustrations of dealing with the various customer care teams aren't generally baked into their travel plans.
For whatever reason, certain travelers are left on hold for hours, and for better or worse, these travelers are forced to use only a handful of support and engagement channels. Khoros is here to prove there’s much more to customer engagement in the travel industry than Twitter and outdated phone systems.
A New Approach
It’s clear that travel brands need to expand their reach into new channels and customer engagement methods, but what might be the best path to accomplish this? Thankfully, Khoros’ customer Airbnb has provided a perfect game plan.
In 2020 Airbnb was rated best in class for their community using the Khoros platform. A principal reason for this award was Airbnb's ability to empower its community users. The Airbnb community supports five different languages, and hosts and guests can use the community to customize everything about their accounts and experiences. The community is known for organizing meet-ups and idea sharing, and most importantly, guests and hosts can get community-based support whenever there's a problem. While it seems almost too simple to work this well, Airbnb proved that a strong community could increase customer engagement passively.
You can read the full Airbnb kudos award here!
Customer Engagement Means More than only Care
It’s generally accepted that most people will only interact with a travel brand when they have a question or issue they need resolving. However, only focusing on the care side of engagement would be a rather significant misstep. Marketing in new channels to draw in new customers is a delicate dance. It's crucial that you stay relevant with the new customers but in a way that might alienate your current customer base.
Irish Airline Ryanair has taken this in stride with their viral TikTok account. For the unaware, Ryanair is a budget airline known for many things but known that it’s the cheapest way from point A to point B in Europe. However, not always the most comfortable. There won’t be a lot of bells and whistles. Countless jokes circulate on Twitter about how there are no windows for specific seats on a Ryanair flight, the landings can be rough, or what have you.
A brand could do one of two things. Either they could not engage, or they could own up to their reputation. Ryanair has done the latter. The Ryanair TikTok account is full of videos making fun of themselves. As a result, they have amassed an enormous following on TikTok with (at the time of writing) 1.7 million followers. This is how a brand does stellar customer engagement.
It Could Be All Sunshine and Rainbows
The brands struggling to meet the above success levels could utilize several tactics available through the Khoros platform. For customer Care, it’s quite simple. Suppose you are an airline, and for whatever reason, your customers are missing flights or luggage or what have you. With Khoros Care, you’ll be able to improve your agent health, NPS scores, and operational efficiency by getting customers help faster through the power of automation and AI. All of these turn directly into cost savings and higher ROI by deflecting calls to your contact center.
For the travel brand communities out there, Airbnb shows that it’s clear that by letting your customers have a majority role in the engagement of your community, intrepid travelers are more than likely to enjoy and heavily engage with your online community, reducing the volume on your Care team.
Lastly, with Khoros marketing, you can instantly expand your social engagement channels. Some brands will focus solely on Twitter via native publishing. With Khoros Marketing, you could easily make the same Twitter post and publish it on Facebook, Instagram, or even TikTok with only a handful of clicks.
Customer engagement is constantly evolving, and the brands that evolve with it stay relevant and continue to grow their customer base. The brands that don’t are still only using Twitter.
For more resources and stories on how brands are using Khoros visit the links below!
- Khoros Kudos Awards 2021
- Khoros Customer Blog
- An Interview for Change How AI and Automation Drive ROI
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Customer care is convoluted at the best of times. While the customer can use your product or service wrong once, your customer care system has to be right every time. Of course, this is a fool’s dream because of Murphy’s law. In other words, whatever could go wrong, will go wrong, except when they don’t.
A few years ago, a Khoros customer found truly stunning success while using the Care platform, even when the odds were stacked against them. This customer had to juggle a massive merger, adoption of the Khoros system, and dealing with a vast influx of volume during a nationwide event and promotion.
Previously used Care models suggest that these factors would cause this customer to crash and burn. However, they found nothing but success in their first year of using Khoros. Over the course of a year, this customer successfully handled over 15,000 customer messages per quarter and saw a 13% agent efficiency improvement. During that nationwide event, with hundreds of thousands of people watching, this Khoros customer handled over 25 customer contacts a second.
So, how did they do it? Was it the stars aligning? Some kind of holiday miracle? According to Ockham’s razor, the simplest answer is often the most correct one. In this case, the most correct answer is that this specific Khoros customer implemented two incredible and simple tactics to boost their Care efficiency. The first was queue configuration, or how to organize the flow of your customer requests in the most efficient way possible. The second was enabling Push Next into their system. Put simply, Push Next removes extra clicks that need to be made by a care agent by having the platform give the agent the subsequent customer request rather than the agent having to choose which ticket or request to address.
Let’s dive a little deeper into how queue configuration and push next can help solve high volume and low agent efficiency by first looking at a care team who has chosen not to implement both ideas into their care system.
How a team routes their customer requests will depend heavily on the type of company setting up their care configuration. For this example, we’ll use a monthly subscription streaming service that recently had a server go down, resulting in the loss of service for thousands across several regions.
This streaming service’s customer care channels have exploded with requests and tickets. To add to the problems, a group on social media is fanning the flames of the public reaction. Because of the social media reaction, this team will have to tackle both real customers trying to get answers to why their service is down or cancel their subscription and non-customers and internet “trolls” calling with fake or nonsense issues.
This streaming service didn’t use customer sentiment detection to configure its queue in a way to maximize its efficiency and is now stuck with a tidal wave of unorganized customer requests. Not configuring their queue to adds stress and pressure to the care agents and the customers' patience, and unfortunately, adds to operation costs and lowers your total revenue. After all, no one wants to spend money with a frustrating company.
After the streaming service barely navigated their service outage challenge, they decided to change their care system to the Khoros platform. After some time and product coaching, they have their automation and queue configuration set up in a way that works wonderfully.
While most customers promptly get the help they need, the front-line agent’s TAR (time to agent response) is far lower than the executive team imagined.
Again, the question is, why is this happening? It could be because of several things: agents having to choose which ticket to handle next, wasted time figuring out what the customer needs before contact is started, or at worst, a care agent choosing to not take on a stressful ticket or a customer that is clearly upset.
When everything is working out fine, it can seem like having a lower TAR is an acceptable concession. However, let’s take a look at the numbers.
Low TAR Team
500 customers helped a day, 5 days a week for a year = 130,000 customers helped in one Year
High TAR Team With a 13% Efficiency gain using Push Next
560 customers helped a day, 5 days a week for a year = 145,600 customers helped in one year.
Being able to help an extra 15,000 customers a year for the exact cost of using the Khoros care platform can mean only one thing, higher ROI. Suppose, in our streaming service example, they still refused to turn on Push Next and never had their agents trained on the feature. In that case, they could lose hundreds of thousands of dollars in lost revenue, wasted labor costs, and potentially a severe hit to their brand’s reputation through bad press.
A higher TAR is only one piece of the puzzle, but in many ways, it could be seen as a keystone to crafting and maintaining an exceptional level of customer care. Khoros can be and has been used to craft that exceptional level of service and care across all manners of industries. Before you decide that your current level of service is simply adequate, ask yourself and your team if your existing customer care system is truly the best you have.
For product coaching, a deeper understanding of how Khoros care increases your ROI, and to hear some real-world stories, please visit the links below!
Creating Highly Efficient Teams with Push Next
An Interview for Change How AI and Automation Drive ROI
Agent Queue Configuration | Video
[Podcast] Stop Worrying About the Channel, Start Thinking About the Customer
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