In the old days, customer support was provided exclusively over the phone or by email. Oftentimes, this involved irate customers who spent time waiting in a queue or struggling to resolve issues by themselves.
Unfortunately, such complaints remain commonplace in the world of B2C businesses, but B2B organizations are under far greater pressure to meet and surpass their support obligations. In other words, B2B support teams simply cannot afford to rest on their laurels when the profit margins of their customers depend on their efficiency.
One of the most effective ways to ease the burden on your support team, as well as increase its effectiveness, is to build a peer-to-peer support platform that acts as a foundation for your entire system.
You have three main options here – you can either choose a simple forum or knowledge base website template straight out of the box, implement a customizable system from a prebuilt framework, or you can have your own system coded from scratch.
There’s More to P2P Support than a Community Forum
Forum boards provide a great base for community support, but that’s not enough by itself. If you’ve ever tried searching through Reddit or a similar platform to solve a specific problem, then you know just how frustrating such a process can be.
While it’s easy to set up a simple bulletin board where customers can ask questions, such a system isn’t likely to be very effective for companies that serve thousands of businesses around the world.
In other words, unless you’re running a very small and exclusive community that’s not likely to grow significantly any time soon, you need a sophisticated community foundation.
What does that look like? A more advanced community support forum allows users to flag discussion types and post rich content, such as images (screenshots are especially important for technical support) and embedded videos.
Another feature that any support community will find invaluable is the ability to deflect support tickets by allowing customers to ask pre- and post-sales questions that others can rate for best answers. That way, you gradually build up a knowledge base of user-generated content to help your customers resolve more common issues on their own without having to open a support ticket.
Furthermore, your support team will spend less time resolving trivial issues and more time focusing on complicated ones that must be quickly addressed.
You Need a Fully Customizable Platform
Every business operates within a unique set of circumstances and goals. Fortunately, this doesn’t mean having a custom-developed solution that’s built from scratch at an enormously high price. So long as the platform provides the customization options you need, you can build a community from the ground up using your own branding and preferred features.
For example, if your goal is to create a sense of exclusivity, provide a members-only support forum for providing post-sales support. Maybe you want to use gamification to offer rewards and incentives to the most valuable members of your community, such as those who consistently provide the best answers.
Above all, you need a community framework that adapts to your needs and grows with the demands of your support department. You’ll also want to choose a platform that integrates with other solutions, like Zendesk or Salesforce, to share data more efficiently.
Fortunately, to enjoy all the functions and features you need to build the perfect B2B support community, it’s not necessary to build something from scratch. With a customizable framework like Vanilla, you can create just about any kind of online community you like.