Support tickets decreased by 10%.
“In the first two years, the number of support tickets decreased by 10%. People saw that they could get answers more quickly. And they simply liked the networking part of the community.”
As software intelligence company Dynatrace grew, it wanted a scalable approach to help its users. A place, says community manager Karolina Linda, “where there are no dumb questions.”
Dynatrace had a Q&A site, but it wasn’t easy to search, it was very static, and the platform wasn’t scaling. “We started looking for a dedicated platform with full options,’’ Linda says. “We were aiming to build a place where every contribution, big or small, simple question or product extension – is valued.’’
The move to AnswerHub has helped us “gather product feedback, promote webinars and events, announce early access programs, identify missing content in our documentation, and, most importantly, publicly recognize our active users,” Linda says. “As one of our users summed up, ‘everyone was a newbie’ and our community knows that and respects that.’’
“The community is a place where we meet our users every day, and see their concerns and problems,’’ Linda says.
Crowdsourced Support in a Rapidly Evolving Marketplace
Although Dynatrace releases updates to its product every two weeks, tech user-contributed answers are important because new technologies and platforms come online very quickly. “The community is a great place to find out how other users are using Dynatrace for new cloud technologies. Our users can find real-life examples and monitor use cases. Our community members eagerly share their experience with Dynatrace,” Linda says.
But it wasn’t a matter of just deploying a platform and letting customers populate it with answers and examples. “We built a team, and we’re working together to build the support center.’’ Linda encouraged Dynatrace employees to participate in the community and recognizes the most active ones on a quarterly and annual basis. “This helped us enliven the community and showed that here you can get help, learn more, or share your experience. As a result, our users became more engaged and the community started to grow.’’
More Than Case Deflection
As the community – and the company – has grown, support tickets haven’t. “In the first two years, the number of support tickets decreased by 10%,’’ Linda says. “People saw that they could get answers more quickly. And they simply liked the networking part of the community.”
Linda explained that while lowering support costs is a good metric for measuring a community’s success, there are so many more benefits to building an online dev community. She set out early on to develop relationships with users to help identify potential conference speakers, influencers, and Dynatrace advocates.
Her team introduced the community leaderboard last year. The gamification features also let community managers issue reputation points and increased permissions. Linda runs three recognition programs within the Dynatrace Community: a high-five award (it’s a special shout out in the Open Q&A that comes with extra reputation points); a Member of the Month in two categories: customer/partner and employee (with winners awarded $50 to spend in the Dynatrace store); and the Community Rock Star award that is given out annually at the Dynatrace Perform conference.
“We sometimes see members compete to win Member of the Month. And, the neat thing is that their increased activity doesn’t end after they win the award,’’ Linda says. “I just love the spirit of the community.’’
That enthusiasm decreases costs in another way: “I don’t have to spend time looking for someone to answer each IT specialist question. The community has evolved to the point where someone – a Dynatrace employee or customer – will jump in and answer the question.’’ And it’s a lot of questions. In the past year, the 26,000 community members answered 4,400 questions.
Gathering Insight for Product Direction
AnswerHub’s ideation feature has been particularly helpful as the company has grown. When a Dynatrace user submits an idea, others can vote on it. Linda customized the site with eight status levels to keep users up-to-date on status.
“It was easy to handle ideas when we had just a few product managers, but as the company has grown, it became more difficult,’’ Linda explains. Product managers look at the votes, but they also look for easy fixes among the suggestions. And they are quick to let users know when an idea won’t be moved into production. “People prefer to hear no than not hear anything at all.’’
With Linda freed from hunting down SMEs to answer questions, she looks at ways to build the content from the community into documentation and blog posts, linking those resources back to the community.
When the developers are engaged, they evolve from reporting problems and seeking solutions to providing insight.
“When we first launched these communities, we were focused on cost savings and case deflection. Now that the community has become more self-sufficient, we can focus on getting better customer feedback and building strong relationships with our users.’’