We spoke to Alex Farmer, VP of Customer Success, and Anita Hæhre, Customer Community Director at Cognite, about using the community as a key channel in a high-touch strategy.
Cognite’s Industrial DataOps platform, Cognite Data Fusion, enables asset-heavy industries – like oil & gas, power & utilities, and manufacturing – to make better use of their data to improve the efficiency and sustainability of operations. Cognite customers are a classic example of a high-touch use case. The contracts are substantial, which makes it challenging to rely solely on customer success managers (CSMs). This situation gave rise to the need for more self-service in this growing company, which is where the development of its community comes into play.
Centralizing all content and building a community in one Hub
Unlike most startups who often have very little content, Cognite is a content machine. All of this great content was spread across multiple channels. It needed to be consolidated. The first step in bringing it all together? Creating Cognite Hub.
What’s more, it was important to turn Cognite Hub into more than a content hub; it needed to be a community to facilitate peer-to-peer learning and knowledge sharing. So, the team got to work creating its community roadmap.
The community roadmap
They kicked off the community project in the best way possible, with a vision-led white-boarding session. The vision? Simple. Think community-led. So what did that mean in practical terms? Pointing customers to the community was the first step, which they did by creating a central hub where they could access help content, documentation, and other resources in a few clicks.
“We wanted to drive customers to the community first, and there they could find all the things they wanted to find in our network of tools and technology and people,” says Farmer.
“Getting our wider community strategy up and running has required close collaboration and integration with the broader organization,” Hæhre adds.
Building a high-touch strategy unlike any other
Typically, a community is not a channel you’d see as part of a high-touch strategy. However, in the age of digital customer service, it’s become one of the most popular one-to-many channels. Just because you’re a customer that falls into a high-touch segment doesn’t mean you only want to engage with your CSM or get in touch with them every time you need something. But your high-touch segments will likely have higher expectations, and to cater to those, creating a frictionless experience is key. This is where the community comes into the picture – offering a frictionless and navigable experience, putting answers in front of customers in seconds.
And while CSMs are a great asset, the most frictionless route is probably not emailing your named CSM. And also, the customer might prefer to speak to somebody in their industry who has similar challenges. “Our community users report they love how fast they get answers from experts understanding the detailed complexity they’re asking,” says Hæhre.
A new product culture
One of Cognite Hub’s greatest impacts comes from its Product Feedback and Ideation module, which has led to a more customer-centric product. The Cognite team says “It has changed our product culture.”
Hæhre adds “The Ideation module has allowed us to understand the power of customer feedback at scale, and access those insights in seconds.” This open line of peer-to-peer conversation has even allowed customers and partners across industries to come together to work on features or product ideas. “I get goosebumps when I see data scientists in utilities connecting with developers from oil and gas working on the same business outcomes,” she says. “The final result becomes so much more powerful than working on product development in isolation with one customer.”
But that’s not the only change the product team has seen. “We’ve tapped into the core of our company’s product lifecycle by working closely with product and engineering, driving early adopter programs and product ideation to ensure product-market fit. We’re also working closely with our academy department for training and certifying, our documentation team, support, and managed services,” Hæhre says.
The result? Stronger, more connected relationships with customers and partners, and, in turn – a better product.
What’s next for Cognite’s community?
With 99% of Cognite’s existing customer base already registered within the community and a noticeable correlation of product stickiness for community users, the team is excited to expand its existing community strategy.
“We want to make Hub and other channels easily available from inside our products, where our users actually are,” says Hæhre.
Another strategic initiative moving forward includes building an MVP (Most Valuable Professional) program to build advocates and recognize community members who share their expertise with the wider community.
And even though Cognite is leaning into a digital approach, Hæhre says there will also be in-person opportunities and meetups planned for the community including annual conferences and hackathons for a hybrid member experience.
We’re also looking at a Marketplace add-on to make it easier for customers and partners to procure our products and connected functionality, and to connect with the right partners,” says Hæhre.
In addition to the community being a place for customers to learn how to improve their own use of Cognite Data Fusion or to help influence the development of the product features, it is also a place they can promote their own digital expertise and look for partners to help them go even further in their digital journey. Cognite hopes all of its momentum of knowledge sharing, networking, and engagement will result in creating a world-leading community of product builders and users in the emerging industrial DataOps category.
Cognite is dedicated to constantly finding new ways to create one frictionless digital space for its customers and partners. Cognite Hub’s focus is on streamlining the customer experience. As an example, Cognite’s customer success deliverables, such as customer success plans and executive business reviews, are still shared as email attachments or on shared drives. Cognite’s ambition is to embed these deliverables in a password-protected space on Cognite Hub, accessible just for that customer, without having to scroll through their inbox.
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