The purpose of a B2B support community is to not only provide your customers with quick solutions, but to also use the crowd-based support to reduce costs. There are however, a number of features needed to support these goals. This blog will discuss 5 of these must have features.
Just because you have a support community doesn't mean that it's fulfilling either one of its purposes. Ask yourself these questions:
1. Is your community actually providing helpful and meaningful support to your customers?
2. Are your support costs lower than before?
If the answer is 'no,' 'kind of,' or 'maybe,' then you need to continue reading this blog because it's likely that your community is missing out on some key features. Don't worry though - we'll help you out!
Here are 5 features that are an absolute must for any B2B support community.
1. Rich User Profiles
One of the top benefits of having a support community is the peer-to-peer and crowd-based support elements that allow it to function. And I'm sorry to have to be the one to tell you this, but your customers trust their peers more than they trust you.
The good news?
Your peer-to-peer support community provides the perfect spot for your customers to connect and share ideas. What adds to this element of trust, however, is having rich user profiles.
As one of the most necessary features of your community, a rich user profile allows your members to really go into detail about themselves and put a face to their name.
A rich user profile provides members with the ability to:
Customized personal information.
Upload a profile picture (or customize an avatar).
Keep track of their posts and comments.
See how they stand in the community in terms of rank or level.
- Provide information about their business.
Rich user profiles also provide you with the opportunity to insert your own brand personality into your community. By designing and customizing certain features, such as how you want profiles to be displayed, or the types of avatars that a member can create, you can make your community a more appealing place to be.
Just take a look at RapidMiner - they have their member's rank displayed on their profiles, and have named their ranks based on industry jokes...isn't that rich!?
2. Responsive Design
Although there’s little chance of people writing lengthy posts on a smartphone, you should never underestimate the demand for exceptional web design on mobile devices.
People are busy and often look to give their work a head start during their morning commute, which means that there’s a good chance they’ll look for any updates or replies to their posts in your community.
With a responsively designed forum, you’ll be able to deliver an optimal and seamless experience on the small screen too, which as it turns out, is more important than ever.
In fact, here are some statistics that show just how important it is to have a web design that is mobile responsive:
Approximately 50% of internet users browse from their smartphones.
83% of mobile users say that the same web experience across all devices is very important.
57% of internet users won’t recommend a business with a poorly designed website on mobile.
Almost 80% of customers will stop engaging with content that isn't mobile responsive.
So as you can see, having a responsive design is crucial for any community.
If your community doesn't have a responsive design, I highly recommend putting that at the top of your to-do list.
3. User Groups
People are busy and want answers as quickly as possible.
The problem is, if your community is on the larger side of things, it may be difficult for your members to find what they're looking for. That being said, if your community isn't maintained consistently, it's easy for a community to become cluttered. This is obviously something that you want to avoid.
This is where user groups comes in.
The ability to define individual user groups helps to keep your forums clean, organized and guides users in the right direction when they’re looking for support.
4. Content Resources
Peer-to-peer support communities are an invaluable knowledge base for everyone involved.
Through curating and centralizing your highest-rated posts, your community forum can become a valuable content resource for both customers and staff alike.
Some of the most valuable content resources that can be organized and centralized within your community include:
Getting Started Guide
Allowing your members to have easy access to all these types of resources will not only ensure that you meet their expectations, but it will also make your customers less likely to leave. A customer that gets quick and easy answers to their questions is a happy customer, and happy customers don't leave!
Yes, even in your B2B support community, gamification is something that is definitely a must-have. In fact, even the biggest names in B2B use this feature, including Acer.
Gamification is used to amplify engagement and encourage your crowd-based support model through offering rewards. These rewards could be badges, points, rank, a spot on the leaderboard, and sometimes even real items.
The image on the right illustrates RapidMiner's all time leaderboard - a perfect example of successful gamification in practice. As a B2B company, RapidMiner uses gamification at its finest to encourage participation and showcases their most involved members (and their points) on the leaderboard.
Need more convincing? Let's take a look at some numbers.
Since RapidMiner started to customize their gamification features after making the Vanilla Switch, they have seen a huge boost in engagement, leading to:
80% decrease in average time to solution
73% decrease in average time to first response
These numbers are incredibly significant for a support community, so take note - gamification works.
Food for Thought
As you can probably tell from this blog, not all communities are created equal. Sometimes however, it's the platform that's the issue.
If you're building your community on a social media platform, it won't be able to function the same as ones that aren't. This can be a disadvantage because, for example, you won't be able to truly customize your member experience or implement useful features, such as gamification.
To learn more about the pros and cons of building your community on a social media platform versus having a branded community, check out our free webinar below.