A successful product-community relationship doesn’t just happen on its own—it takes time, effort and commitment. What are the most effective ways to manage this relationship and ensure you are building your product to suit the needs of your customers?
The value of having an online community and knowledge base in order to reduce pressure on customer support and scale customer success is clear. What’s perhaps a little murkier is how your product team can benefit from your online community and how you should structure that relationship. The truth is, online user communities are powerful tools for product teams. At inSided, our clients see a whopping 21% increase in product adoption from users when operating with a community and a knowledge base.
Clearly product and community success are interlinked. Having pinpointed the benefits your community can bring to your product team’s workflow in our previous post, it’s time to look at the practical steps that your team should take to ensure you maximize the benefits for your community, and your product.
With that in mind, here are 5 “must-do’s” to establish a seamless product-community workflow:
1. Set a review cadence
Daily, weekly, bi-weekly? Every product team works differently. It may be that product owners wish to interact with and feedback to your community daily, while your development team may feel that checking in with your community is necessary only weekly. The truth is, there is no right answer here—only you really know the right review cadence for your team.
That being said, try not to start too intensely. Just like adopting new product features, change can take time to get used to. Drip feeding these product-user community reviews into your weekly meetings is the best way to see the most benefits fast. Slow and steady wins the race!
Here are two tips to keep in mind when setting a review cadence:
- Make reviews a habit. Short, regular review meetings tend to glean more positive results than spending an hour just once a week. Try interacting with your communities in different ways, rather than just reading the content.
- Post replies, react to content and discuss suggestions—the more interaction and engagement the better! Here’s an example of software company, Infoland’s Community Manager posting an update to their community:
2. Create a meeting structure
With the last point in mind, be sure your product team has regular internal meetings with your community manager or whoever is responsible for your community. This line of communication is a vital way to avoid user feedback slipping through the cracks. Your community manager has (or should have) their ear to the ground when it comes to user feedback in your community and they may pick up things your product team would miss.
At inSided, our product team sits with our community management team on a bi-weekly basis to review trends in user feedback, discuss ideation and feature requests and align on any announcements coming up for users. Consistency is key here—set up regular internal meetings and stick to them.
3. Be realistic—manage user and colleague expectations
The beauty of your community is that your users can offer a vast amount of varying feature requests and types of feedback. At the same time, this can be overwhelming and these requests must be both rationalized and prioritized. Always keep your product roadmap in mind, acting on the most relevant requests to suit your business needs.
Don’t forget there may be requests that are not worth investing valuable time and resources into. In these cases, you should still engage with your customers where you can—which leads us to point #4…
4. Respond, constructively
So point #3 ultimately means that you will have to push back on a whole host of feature requests from users. You can’t action everything, right? Of course, but it’s all about how you respond that matters. Always try to and respond constructively to your users—this will maintain a positive and collaborative atmosphere on your community and not discourage people from posting suggestions.
Remember that your community is a window shop for everyone who uses your product (and prospective customers)—so be sure to showcase your company at its best. This will make users feel appreciated and more importantly, give them concrete reasons behind why you may, or may not, be working their feedback into your product road map. Transparency is key here.
5. Measure what matters
This may seem obvious, but it’s the key to success. When you are going to so much trouble to get things right, it’s crucial to measure your results to make sure you are heading in the right direction for your company’s overall strategic goals. This can be easier said than done and sometimes knowing what to measure is half the battle. Here are some key indicators we think product teams should be paying particular attention to:
- Have you received feedback from enough people on a particular topic? Is there enough feedback to be considered significant, or representative of the ‘actual’ customer landscape? Does feedback mostly come from a specific industry, or even company? As a general rule, the more volume of feedback on a topic, from a wide-range of sources, the more likely it is to be helpful and informative for your product team.
- Split feedback by user profile. Who is interacting with or reading the content? Who engages with it?
- What are the numbers? When it comes to ideation, how many votes has an idea got? Are there multiple similar ideas or requests popping up lately? These can be key indicators that something needs to be fixed, or that customers want to see something new.
Managing the relationship between your product team and your community is not always an easy task, nor does it happen overnight. It takes time and perhaps some trial and error to find what works for your team. That said, striking the right community-product relationship is not only a great way to improve your product and increase customer engagement, it makes the user an advocate for your product journey.
For more information on how to boost your product using your online community you can download our whitepaper here:
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