There are two things every company tries to do whenever they are looking at purchasing a new tool, raise the bottom line by reducing costs, or increase their top line by increasing sales. The main problem we see with people researching community software is a lack of focus on what they want the product to do, and what business objectives they want to accomplish. Before moving forward with a solution, you need to ask yourself what your goals are, and can this tool help me accomplish those goals?
The number one way a community can raise your bottom line and reduce support costs is through case deflection. The easiest way to measure ROI here is in how much time it takes your team to close a case if they have to deal with it at all. The goal of a community is to transition from one-to-one or one-to-many support structure towards a many-to-many support structure. Allow your community to earn reputation, badges, and leaderboard position by solving people’s problems, resulting in you not having to hire more professional support staff when your community scales.
From a 2016 Forrester Report (“The Future of Customer Service”) we see that a majority of people using their community to improve case deflection save significant money over time. While the graph below shows $12 for a case, our customers have reported that those numbers range from $150-300 per support case. If you can achieve similarly proportionate results to the report, that number could reduce by up to 83% (down from $150-300 to $25-50 per case). The other interesting takeaway from a Salesforce report (“2017 Customer Service Trends”) is that 72% of customers prefer self-service support, and of those polled, only 44% found the information they were looking for. This presents a massive opportunity for you to capture your audience, build trust, and keep them engaged if you build a well-run support community.
This is a cross-functional use of the term “case deflection” as we’re not just looking at support, we’re focusing on your product team as well. Give your product team a built-in way to keep a pulse on their audience by using ideation. When your users propose ideas, vote on them, and then see you organize, prioritize, and implement, they become advocates as they feel and see that they are being heard and appreciated. If you’re building a community of creators and builders, you need to use ideation.
Think about your support structure and ask yourself if it could be improved with a developer community. If your company and community is growing, does it make sense to invest in enterprise software that encourages users to solve each other’s problems, or to keep hiring more and more staff over time?