How the Community Implementation Process Works at Vanilla
Selecting a community vendor is like choosing a partner. These will be the people that you either sink or swim with, so you want to make sure that they’re transparent, open and honest from the get-go so that you know what you’re getting yourself into. Every vendor has their own unique process on how they work with their customers to implement an online community forum. It’s important to know exactly what these processes are because, in essence, they set the tone for the rest of your relationship. And if the beginning of your journey (aka the honeymoon phase) starts out rocky, well, it’s not looking good.
Before we dive in, however, if you or your boss are still on the fence about whether a community is right for your organization, I’d recommend you take a look at these 20 statistics about the benefits of online communities. If you’re looking for more proof beyond these statistics, be sure to check out our resource library, or even dive into our case studies to hear what others had to say about their journey with us.
Now, let’s discuss what your journey as a new Vanilla Forums customer would look like. We like to make things as easy and simple as possible, which is why our implementation process can be summed into three key steps:
Community Partnership Kick Off Call
Community Forum Design and Training
Prepare for Community Forum Launch
Let’s take a closer look at each.
1. Community Partnership Kick Off Call
We see our customers as partners, which is why we start off every journey with effective and transparent communication. Our SuccessTeam™ whose sole purpose is to provide you guidance, support and assistance at any given moment, will assess your organizational profile and assign the most appropriate Customer Service Manager (CMS) to guide you through your journey.
Your CSM will work closely with you to help you realize your community goals and build a framework that supports them. You’ll also be supported with various checklists and documentation that can help you along the way. Your CSM will work with you to create a community strategy that’s right for your organization, your customers and your end goals. At this point, timelines and milestones will be laid out so that you have ample time to manage the change process within your organization.
But don’t worry, you won’t have to do this alone! Your CSM will provide you and your team with customized training that’s tailored to your own unique needs; we’ll talk more about this in the next step!
2. Community Forum Design and Training
In this step, we’ll help you make your community vision a reality; it’s your chance to be creative! There is no ask or want that’s too big or too small, and your CSM will work tirelessly to ensure that you end up with a community that not only delivers on your goals, but also embodies your brand, values and creative direction. I mean, we’re called Vanilla for a reason—customization is our specialty! Add whatever toppings you want to make us your own.
The first thing we’ll do in this step is provide you and your team with in depth platform training; you’ll learn everything you need to know about running a Vanilla community, including navigating the community, creating categories/ content, using moderation tools, and so much more. Once you’re done your training, you’ll be well equipped to begin setting up your community categories, creating your roles and configuring your settings. At this point, you’ve got the bones of your community in place and you’re ready to start the fun part—theming! We’ve got a long list of add-ons that can add flavour to your community and help fulfill your vision. Be sure to test drive any that peak your curiosity; the keys are yours if you want them! One of the best ways to make your community unique and express your brand’s vision is through community gamification. We’ve experienced setting up hundreds of successful gamification systems and we’ll not only teach you how Vanilla’s reputation engine works, but also how you can harness the power of gamification to support your community goals.
3. Prepare for Community Forum Launch
As we’re sure you know, test runs are extremely important because issues are much easier to address before you’re up and running. That being said, your CSM will work closely with you during this step to make sure that everything is running as it should. This includes an extensive review and QA process, including testing your sign-in and registration workflows and navigation process. But QA testing is only the half of it—the most important factor to gauge before launch is whether your community will provide your members with the intended experience.
That being said, we’ll help you through the soft launch process, which will give you a good idea of what it’ll be like on the day of the actual launch. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves here—the soft launch will provide you with a ton of feedback that you’ll likely want to take action on. As your first batch of members navigate your community and use your features, you’ll be able to collect feedback, answer questions and maybe even think of new ideas. Rest assured that we’ll work with you to make any changes based on this feedback in a quick and timely manner; we know that you’re excited about launch day and we aren’t about to let your deadline get pushed back!
This has just been a quick overview of the standard scenario for our SuccessTeam. In our years of running outstanding communities, we’ve conquered every onboarding challenge you can think of, for multiple use cases. If you have any questions about how this might look for your community, feel free to reach out and we can share what we know.
In sum, Vanilla’s implementation process is unique in that we’re there every step of the way. We do community best, so let us do the heavy lifting to get you up and running while you jot-down all the great things you’ll do with your new branded community forum.
And the journey isn’t over once your community is up! Our SuccessTeam will check in with you periodically to address any concerns and make sure that everything is running as intended. After all, we’re partners, remember?
Again, don’t hesitate to reach out and chat with us if you have any questions, friends!
Until next time!