Developers are problem solvers – and overachievers — so when they run across a technical issue, they won’t submit a ticket until they first try to solve the problem themselves. But Googling and searching through Stack Overflow chatter (and rancor) can eat up precious time.
Why not make it easier for them to find the information they need by offering a developer support community. Along the way, you can make the developers, executive leadership, and the support team happier and more successful.
A developer community provides multiple benefits:
- Accelerate the onboarding of new developers – and quickly bring less experienced developers up-to-speed.
- Switch from 1:1 support to a one-to-many model by posting answers in a searchable community.
- Deflect cases and refocus the support team on larger, more involved issues.
- Satisfy a developer’s need to give back to the community. Survey respondents say they are interested in contributing long- and short-form content, participating in webinars and podcasts (33%), and providing product feedback (29%).
- Identify, reward, and empower experts to grow your knowledge base. This is also a great way to find your next ace employee!
Your developers can be your greatest asset. A community can help you tap into their knowledge and do more without having to add resources or complexity. However, the “build it and they will come” logic will ensure your community fails. We recommend this three-step process:
Step 1: Identify User Groups and Tailor Your Content
Do you know who your developers are? As you define your community strategy, review demographics, product use case, technical skill level, and willingness to use self-service.
For example, some developers may be new to your product and just want to familiarize themselves with its capabilities. Others may be more experienced and want to add additional functionality. Within both of these groups, there may be developers who are enthusiastic about self-service, while others may prefer to submit a support ticket. In this example, four different groups exist with a mix of skill levels and the desire to use self-service.
There may be many more use cases in your community. Start with those that will provide the most benefit and create content that addresses the possible questions from each group. Then encourage them to add to this great reservoir.
Did you know that 17% of developers we surveyed who had 1-2 years of experience and 18% of those with 3-5 years actively contribute content to communities. That’s a resource you shouldn’t pass up!
Step 2: Make Adoption Easy
Your self-service community experience should be intuitive and feature 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, corporate web site, social media, etc.). A seamless brand experience inspires trust.
Reinforce this trusted connection by prominently displaying the community link in the top navigation of your support site. Add a button or link on relevant pages of your corporate website. Finally, when you send a resolution via email or chat, include links to other relevant articles housed within your community. This gives the developer a coveted resource for later reference and promotes self-service as an alternative for their next support experience.
Getting the developer to the community is only the start.
In the early stages of adoption, pre-populate the community with frequently asked questions, documentation, and how-to articles. And encourage the developers to contribute to the searchable knowledge base. Give them a Q&A platform, functionality that allows them to post best practices articles and documentation, and include an ideation engine to let them share ideas for future enhancements. Pair that with a predictive search functionality that populates answers as the developer types a question. In this environment, developers have the tools to be self-sufficient.
Step 3: Evolve with the Customer
Creating a self-service knowledge base is not a one-and-done initiative. Developer feedback will be the single best input to help you improve and evolve. 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.
By following this three-step process, companies can meet the needs of their diverse customer base, enable users to easily find relevant content, and incorporate customer feedback to create an efficient self-service experience. And we can help you prove it.