What kinds of things do you measure? How do you define success?
First and foremost, completed registrations as a percentage of our customer base is what we call our penetration rate. We use post views (as opposed to page views) as a way to measure deflection and we’re measuring the channel mix over time. I also look at number of searches and posts on a regular basis.
Tell us about some hurdles you've had to overcome?
We implemented single sign-on (SSO) integration but the next step is to auto-register our new customers to improve the experience. I expect some level of abandonment on registration but I see this as a big area where we can improve.
Getting our employees involved has been interesting. Change management has always been a focus here, and this is no exception. Now the community is part of the standard demo, and during deployment our service team guide customers to register and make them aware of all the valuable assets available to them.
What lesson would you want to impart to other new community managers?
Take the community manager certification before you launch! It’s not about how to use the admin tool, but it’s about what makes a successful community and I would highly recommend taking it before launch to understand the sociology behind it. What I got out of it is beyond Lithium knowledge, it’s about how to build trust and activate your members.
Have you taken any risks or experimented with how to improve the community?
Letting go of control was something else I learned from the community manager certification. For example, we had established our moderation team to wait 3 hours before providing a reply but we were not seeing real peer-to-peer engagement. We changed it to wait 5 hours, and I got really nervous, but all of a sudden customers started helping each other out. Amazing how much difference 2 hours can make.
Another risk was moving our training center to the community, behind SSO. This essentially made training less accessible to the customer, but the benefits far outweighed the risk with our ability to tie in customer conversations to the training program and engage in a deeper manner.
What has been your proudest moment thus far?
Intuit puts on an annual Gallery Walk for their investors, partners and media to present their top 20 innovations. Usually they consist of product managers doing demos of new products. I got called to present Generation Demandforce because of our unique customer demographic and the fact that we achieved over 50% adoption rate within the first 100 days. The “innovation” wasn’t the community itself, but it was about being a leader in using technology to connect small businesses to share best practices in a private community where they traditionally operate in siloes.
What are your future plans for Generation Demandforce?
Setting up auto-registration is definitely first on my list. We are also infusing the community more deeply into our product. We are creating a widget that can segment community content real-time by sector and other key words so bring more relevancies to our customers. Eventually as we get more mature, I plan to roll out Super User summits to engage with our best users. I’m also creating a private board for Demandforce employees to engage on and learn more about our product as it evolves. It’s going to be an exciting ride!
Learn more about Generation Demandforce on Twitter at @demandforce.
Denise Jack is Lithium's Director of Customer Programs and is primarily responsible for showcasing Lithium customers’ success in social customer experience. She has more than 12 years of experience in customer marketing, technical sales and management consulting. Denise is a regular blogger for Lithium and in the Lithosphere you'll see her as DeniseJ. You can follow her on Twitter at @lithiumtech or @denisejack.