Our recent social customer service webinar spurred some great discussions about how to create a better customer experience through online community. We were fortunate to have two social media and community experts, Jeff Sullivan from Dell and Kim Celestre from Forrester Research, Inc., join forces for an engaging conversation. They touched on topics ranging from proven methods for planning and implementing an online community to tips for ongoing community management. Big thanks to Jeff for demonstrating the Dell TechCenter community and sharing its impact on how Dell delivers customer service to enterprise IT customers.

Here are just some of the highlights:

Community Adoption

Does requiring a user name and password create a roadblock to community adoption? At what point would you require someone to register and give out a name/email address? For reading? For posting?

Jeff: Barriers to engagement – you have to knock those down. I won’t say that we are perfect in that space by any stretch. But we do try hard to make sure that customers can get in [to Dell TechCenter]. So, we do keep all TechCenter content open, except for the occasional betas or our rockstars (which is our customer advocate program). Those do require log-ins. And when you want to contribute to a forum, we do have a log-in process, but we try to make it really easy for those who may have forgotten their passwords to be able to reset it. So, that’s one of the ways that we manage it, by keeping most of the content open. And then, if passwords are needed, it’s a very simple process to reset so that they can get in there and converse.

Kim: I think Jeff makes a great point, really to make it easier for community members to get access to content, without having to register definitely will help with that. I have seen some examples of communities, and probably moreso for sponsor communities where they use social sign-on. And I know some individuals shudder when you talk about social sign-on, but actually, personally, I have learned to embrace it. And in that case, you’re basically just using the same log-in as your social networks. I have not seen that adopted as quickly when it comes down to owner communities. Typically, with owner communities, you do have to set your specific user name, specific password, etc. But I do think social sign-on is a way to make it easier – to have a single sign-on using the social networks. But it comes with its pros and cons when it comes down to owner communities.

Globalization

Do you have any advice on how to support multilingual communities and how you would address globalization?

Kim: When we work with larger companies that have a global presence and massive, large reaching communities, that’s where it really gets down to the regions managing that community. I’ve seen some communities where you can have the community shown in different languages. Again, that has its pros and cons from a translation standpoint. But for the most part, for language and support, the use cases I’ve seen have been more around having different branches of the community managed in the regions themselves. The content is being produced in the language, so you’re not going to have those translation issues, etc. So it’s a challenge, I would say, but I’ve seen some larger enterprise companies that do have massive global reach. And what they do is have different aspects of the community managed within the region to get around those challenges.

Jeff: For Dell TechCenter, we have communities in Japan, China and Germany. These are staffed by community managers that live in the region. There is a combination of locally generated content and translated content from the global English site. 

Moderation

How do you monitor communities? Should you just ‘let customers go’, or do you have a team looking at the postings?

Jeff: The TechCenter team is responsible for watching the community. Depending on the questions, we’ll determine the engagement. For example, if it’s a ‘what has been your experience in this situation’ type question, we’ll try to let the community respond. If it’s very product or solution specific, we’ll jump in more quickly. TechCenter focuses on best practice discussions and isn’t a break-fix community, therefore there isn’t a stated SLA or turnaround time; however we do our best to respond quickly and thoroughly.

To find out more, watch the archived version of the webinar.

Looking for additional information about social customer service? Check out these complimentary resources:

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