A Look Under the Hood

14 Jun Building a Customer Community- A Peek Under the Hood

Today, Moxie Software announced its new mobile app for Collaboration Spaces and also the official launch of our Moxie Community. You can read more details about the news here.

I’ve spent the past few months doing the prep-work needed to prepare Moxie’s first customer community. Building a community is always a fascinating journey for me. You get to know so much about your members, your organization, and your own perceptions of success and failure. It’s an important and educational journey that can transform the way your organization works together.

I’m going to be transparent about the work I’m doing in preparing participants, experiences and programming for Moxie as we launched our freemium offering of our Collaboration Spaces product. In expanding our customer base as rapidly as a free product offering can, there is a challenge of building many new customer relationships quickly. We see the community as an effective way to tackle that business challenge.

So, How Do We Start Building a Community?

  • The success experience – Social is a new challenge for a number of organizations. The rules of the business game are changing and the new competencies required to bring collaborative and social success run the gamut. Change management, behavioral psychology, gaming, learning, technology, business and marketing strategy… who ever thought they’d need a scope of expertise like this in an IT, HR or Marketing role? As a SaaS provider, our success comes when our customers are successful in building adoption. Here I’ll be looking at events and content programming to spread the adoption story and stir creativity around new ideas.
  • The suggestion experience – We sell software, and everyone has a better idea about how it should behave. The most important perspective is that of the people who use it. The community allows us to create a funnel with tools and process to gather not just data, but sentiment and supporting use cases for functionality.
  • The Q&A experience – freemium offerings don’t come with support, we’ve got to promote the best experience for our customers regardless. They need more than just content and documentation, but answers, ideas, insight into what other customers are doing successfully and what missteps they can avoid. They need these answers in real-time.

Now that we know what we need to accomplish, we need to think about how to make it all happen. How do you get things buzzing so all this potential can become reality? Simple, do all of the work up front.

Start with the people. 

I’ve spent the last two months having voice-to-voice, or face-to-face conversations with our most passionate customers. The ones, who are most eager to give feedback, ask for help, suggest features or use cases. I’ve looked for customers who are at all stages of the collaborative experience – from six-week newbie to two-year veteran. I need diversity of market, role and geography. We talk about what their biggest challenges are, if they think community is an effective way to get help with those challenges, what kind of interactions and responses they’d like to see, and what they absolutely don’t want to see. As we’ve talked we’ve begun the process of building relationships. Those conversations are the bedrock of the relationships we’ll build as we continue online and in regular calls.

Answer their needs. 

With all of this great insight from our first members, I have the info I need to create an engagement strategy, a programming calendar, the right groups and taxonomy, and the content our members will require. I’ve got 3 months of programming and events sorted before we invite in our core members.

Once in, I’ll get their feedback on what’s there and keep them involved with the planned programming to be sure it maintains relevance for them.

Build supporting relationships. 

We know that begging for activity is a terrible way to start a relationship with your community. It also never works. Relevance and programming will also only go so far if no one cares in the first place. We’re using the inner circle approach and have offered a special status and special value exchange for what we’re calling our MoxieInsiders. This elite group of customers has engaged in a partnering role in advocating for the community. These advocates will offer a regular cadence of participation over the course of each week, and a more substantial participation in the programming calendar each month. For their participation and insights they get special access to information about the upcoming product, access to Moxie leadership, private Q&A sessions with industry thinkers, not to mention some cool branded swag to highlight their advocacy. We want to reward the passionate and promote them as they help us help them.

Measure everything. 

Data often tells a different story than you’d expect, specifically in relation to human behavior. We’ll be measuring against the behaviors that will impact our goals. For example, if I’m spending all my time answering Q&A questions, that could mean a few things. 1, that my FAQ stinks 2, that my information is a pain to get to, 3, that my members know I’ll just respond, so why look? Measuring the behaviors, sentiment and content will tell me a great story about what’s really going on here and will give me the info I need to adapt for relevance, and for my own productivity.

So there it is. A little high level insight into the guts of how a social software company goes about developing a community to meet its specific business needs. If you are in the same spot, I hope the perspective is something you can use! If you want to try our our Collaboration Spaces for free, just sign up!

[Photo by FoquesPhoto]