Building a Knowledge Sharing Community Improves Your Bottom Line

Summary

  • When it comes to technical support, developers prefer a self-service support capability
  • Customers can save time and money by implementing a self-service knowledge-sharing community for technical support
  • Utilize best practices to build and scale a developer knowledge sharing community


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Today’s businesses are constantly evolving their customer-facing technical support capabilities. From multi-tiered approaches to full outsourcing, this important function that is at the nexus of the customer experience with your products is critical to get right. And, when it comes to working with developers and tech teams, the complexity only increases. Developers and engineers prefer a self-service support capability. In fact, according to Evans Data, 40% of developers prefer self-service support access that includes “easily navigable self-help resources like FAQs, searchable knowledgebases, and other focused community features.” This could be a win/win, if you have a way to deflect support tickets/cases to a community of your customers and developers – therefore, keeping your support costs low and improving your overall customer experience!

The Advantages of a Self-Service Technical Support

With traditional support, your customers and/or developers have to submit a ticket and then wait hours or days for a response. Alternatively, they could call or email support. Each support interaction gobbles up valuable resources – and each answer only aids the developer who filed the ticket.

What you want is to capture the answer and make it available to everyone so that the one-time investment in an answer helps multiple people – even those that don’t need the answer right now.

What about the cost savings? Let’s say it takes a customer support engineer an hour to answer a question, and that engineer’s time is billed at $50 an hour. If you have hundreds of devs and engineers, it becomes crystal clear how each not needing to answer the same question repeatedly will bring cost savings. This one offering for teams will not only cover the investment for the knowledge sharing community but free-up critical resources to more pressing issues. In fact, we have seen AnswerHub customers gain hours back for their support team by documenting answers to commonly asked questions so repetitive answering is unnecessary. Proactively answering questions that their customers and/or developers might ask saves time too. Offering a self-service technical support knowledge base to your customers and your developers can significantly lower the number of support cases/tickets, which frees your support team’s time – and your development team’s time – for more important issues.

What Do You Need to Do to Set Up a Self Service Support Capability?

Place your externally customer-facing knowledge base in a highly-visible, easily-accessible space, such as an online Q&A based community utilizing a platform like AnswerHub. In addition to including answers to commonly asked questions, make the knowledge base the single source of truth for documentation. Ensure it can capture users’ questions and everyone’s answers. Include instructional guides and step-by-step videos and encourage devs to share their own experiences and expertise. This will lead to faster adoption for your customers.

Encourage your customers and your developers to search the knowledge base before submitting a support case/ticket. Over time, this “community” will shift your support model from one-to-one to many-to-many by leveraging a self-support approach. Your need for additional Tier 1 support personnel should diminish – or at a minimum stabilize – as more and more support cases/tickets are answered by the “community” of customers and developers.

Why is This Approach the Best Approach?

  • Save time and reduce costs
  • Provide a better customer experience
  • Capture customer and developer feedback

Three Steps to Consider in Building a Self-Service Support Community

Don’t build it and assume they will come. We recommend three key steps to consider before you build a customers and/or developer community for your software products.

Step 1: Identify User Groups and Tailor Your Content

Do you know who your developers are? Review criteria such as demographics, use case, skill level, and willingness to use self-service when defining your community strategy.

For example, not every developer has years of experience. Some may be new and familiarizing themselves with product capabilities for the first time. Others may be established users looking to incorporate additional functionality. Within both of these groups, there may be developers who are enthusiastic about self-service, while others may prefer to call and talk to support. In this example, four different groups exist with a mix of skill levels and the desire to use self-service. All will have different needs from your community. Once you’ve identified the developer personas, create content that addresses the possible questions from each group.

Step 2: Make it Easy to Find

Your self-service community experience should be intuitive and have straightforward navigation. Further, the community should reflect the branding and personality developers see when they interact with you on other channels (i.e. your support site, developer portal, corporate website, social media, etc.). A seamless brand experience inspires trust.

You’ll want to prominently display the community link in the top navigation of your support site and add a button or link on relevant pages of your corporate website. Also, when you send a resolution via email or chat, include a link to other relevant articles housed within your knowledge base. This gives the developer a resource for later reference and promotes self-service as an alternative when their next question arises.

Step 3: Don’t Let Your Knowledge Base Go Stagnant

Creating a self-service knowledge base is not a one-and-done initiative. You’ll want to continually encourage developer feedback to improve and evolve the site. To get this information, though, you have to ask. For example, send an email survey to identify issues that could be addressed in the community. Or, ask for an evaluation at the end of a self-service experience (e.g. let community members upvote content). Let your customers be the voice of your self-service site and guide you as you create a community that is most beneficial to them.

Conclusion

Developers have a preference for being able to find answers themselves when it comes to technical support. If a self-service community exists, customers save resources. It’s vital to your organization to implement best practices to build and scale a developer community that shares knowledge.

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