Community as a Competitive Advantage

Ideation feature helps Quali review and act on 200+ developer-submitted ideas.

Customer Details

Cloud sandbox provider for automating the DevOps lifecycle

Business Results

Manage more than 600 customer product ideas and move to self-service support

“Prospects have told us that competitors don’t have a community as extensive as ours. It’s definitely been a selling point that has allowed us to differentiate ourselves in the marketplace.”

When Quali decided to encourage third-parties to create integrations for its orchestration solution, it needed a better way to engage developers, keep them informed, deflect service cases, and do it all without going on a support engineer hiring binge.

“We had a bunch of point solutions that we were directing people to, but there was no central point that covered everything,’’ explains Pascal Joly, director of business development. And some of the systems in place were unwieldy. “If customers wanted to suggest an idea, they had to open a ticket and, as a consequence, we had some tickets that never got closed.’’

“Our engineering and support team built an internal knowledge-based forum, but it was difficult to share information outside of our immediate customer base,’’ Joly says. “When we started thinking about how to engage and support third-party developers, a community like that one seemed to make sense.’’

The company chose AnswerHub as their community solution and has taken full advantage of the options to customize the community to meet its needs and deliver an integrated user experience.

A New Way to Approach Ideas

AnswerHub includes an ideation feature that Quali uses to eliminate a process whereby customers submitted tickets to suggest ideas. The AnswerHub Ideas module allows users to submit new ideas. Other users can comment and vote on them and moderators can assign a state to the idea (submitted, started, completed, etc.) and subsequently update the state as it progresses through the pipeline.

Quali added custom states such as “waiting for info,” “exists,” “alternative available,” and “planned.” Moderators can also assign a reason why an idea won’t be acted on. This process transparency helps build user trust, Joly says. On Quali’s site, user votes matter in terms of what gets seriously considered.  The community provides new ideas and is a valuable service developing and shaping the ideas through peer feedback in comments and voting.

Since onboarding with AnswerHub, Quali has delivered on 75 ideas and reviewed and passed on 135 ideas. Nineteen ideas are currently in the planning stages, 254 ideas are being reviewed and tracked, and an additional 154 are in the “waiting for additional info stage,” or have been tagged as duplicates or archived.

“It completely changed the expectations from the customer standpoint,’’ Joly said, “They know the idea isn’t just going into some box where no one will look at it.’’ And separating ideas from tickets gave staff a sense that they didn’t need to come up with a positive answer. “They could be honest that an idea wasn’t in the plan.” Three years after launching the community, enhancement (idea) tickets dropped from a high of 591 to zero.  The ticketing system is now back to being used for what it was intended for – bugs and fixes.

Evolving from 1:1 Support to Self-Service

Initially, Quali staff answered most of the questions, but over time, more questions are being answered by users, which frees staff time for product innovation and serious issues.

Meanwhile, the company has moved from a hub exclusively pointing customers to its own integrations to a hub showcasing integrations from the company and its partners. “We are seeing a positive trend in that regard,’’ Joly says.

To highlight the integrations and other technical components, Quali customized AnswerHub’s Articles feature to create a card that provides details and directs readers to a GitHub link.

“Cards are a way to put as much information as possible in a small space without overwhelming people with content,’’ Joly says.

Gaining an Edge With a Community

The community standup came at the same time Quali was breaking down some cultural barriers by inviting outsiders to build integrations. The firm’s roots were not in the open source community, and so opening up conversations and code was a bit nerve-wracking.

But an interesting thing happened along the way. The open community became a competitive advantage. “When people are looking at our product, they’ve told us that competitors don’t have a community as extensive as ours,’’ Joly says. “It’s definitely been a selling point that has allowed us to differentiate ourselves in the marketplace.