User communities

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2 Strategies to maximize Peer-to-Peer Support in Online Communities

In our experience, improving customer care is one of the most common drivers for a brand to adopt a community. Indeed, two-thirds of companies with a community say higher customer satisfaction is one of their primary goals.

At inSided, we help brands optimize their communities for maximum effectiveness. What “effectiveness” means depends on a specific community’s goals and KPIs. For support-focused communities, one key metric is peer-to-peer (P2P) support—or the percentage of customer questions that get answered by other users on the community.

Why is P2P support so valuable? Any time a customer answers another customer’s question, it not only saves effort for the support team but produces a solution that other people can view in the future.

To maximize your P2P support ratio, there are two key strategies you need to implement: maximize moderator effectiveness, and engage your super users.

Get these strategies right and you can expect to see a P2P support ratio of between 40 percent and 60 percent. That’s the average for telco brands with a mature inSided community:

2 Key Strategies for Maximizing Peer-to-Peer Support in Online Customer Communities

(Source: inSided Telco benchmark (N=12), Bubble size is broader peer-to-peer benefit (%MABA x %Peer))

So what should you do on these two fronts?

Maximize moderator effectiveness

Moderators are an essential component of any successful community. In telco, one full-time-equivalent (FTE) moderator can manage roughly 1,000 community posts per month (although some moderators handle as many as 1,500 each month).

“Manage” doesn’t refer to answering questions. Communities actually function best when members, not moderators, address issues that they’re knowledgeable about—especially if you have a gamification system in place to reward activity.

Instead, moderators should take more of a back-end “editorial” role. Adjusting post topics can enhance the visibility of your community content, garnering more views and more engagement. Adding tags and recategorizing topics, meanwhile, helps people surface answers more easily.

It’s also crucial to make new community members feel welcome. A good approach is to pin a dedicated “welcome” topic to your community homepage, and make an effort to interact with every new member who posts inside that topic.

Engage your super users

Super users are simply the most enthusiastic and active members of a community. To really maximize P2P support, you need your super users on board, as they can produce up to a quarter of a community’s total content.

It’s important to understand what drives a person to become a super user in the first place. As this 2015 article describes, super users have a range of motives: some want to gain status, some are eager to learn, and others simply like to help those who are less knowledgeable.

Gamification is one way to enhance the super user experience. If your community is support-focused, you should also treat your super users like web care agents. Give them access to dedicated or hidden subforums so they can converse with each other and with brand reps. Keep them in the loop on product announcements. And consider inviting them to “train” at your headquarters, like T-Mobile does in the Netherlands:

2 Key Strategies for Maximizing Peer-to-Peer Support in Online Customer Communities