Like most industries, the pandemic has reshaped how HR professionals go about their day-to-day lives. Companies’ biggest concerns have shifted from ways to maximize productivity to how to retain employees and keep them safe and happy, all while navigating the new territory of COVID-19 protocols.
With a surge of well-being and burnout-related questions flooding Sequoia’s client service managers (CSMs), there was an increased need for shared learning and connection between clients. One of the solutions was to create a community of thought leaders using inSided’s platform.
We spoke with Sequoia’s Client Experience Communications Manager, Kelsey Beekley about how the Sequoia team used the community to improve the client service experience and engagement by getting them high-quality answers quickly and directly from their peers.
“The Grove Online Community was the logical evolutional of our annual Grove Conference. At the end of our events, we would always hear from our clients, asking ‘we need a way to continue this conversation. You have this network of HR professionals and we can really learn from each other to be better leaders. How can we tap into that year-round?’ So, our CEO started thinking about ways to build this community, and he found inSided.”
Greg Golub, Sequoia’s CEO, has always been an advocate of community. When he went into his platform search, he was looking for three key things: the ability to set up a fully functional platform quickly, integrate it with Sequoia’s existing platform and systems, and most importantly, offer an easy-to-use experience for clients.
After finding the right technology, it took an impressive one and a half months to set up the Grove Online Community, which included integrating it with Sequoia’s People Platform, applying brand design, and developing the strategy for the initial categories and the “First 100” pilot program. This strategy of building alongside its most loyal advocates ensured a smooth launch to the rest of Sequoia’s client base in July 2021.
Continuous customer engagement
When Sequoia’s team set goals for the community’s first year, their biggest focus was on achieving 25% monthly active users and 90% of questions answered in the community. To their surprise, they nearly doubled the percentage of MAUs and reached a whopping 99% of questions replied to in the community.
“We’ve seen strong examples of clients coming through for each other in meaningful ways. The community is a place our clients consistently go to knowing they’ll get the support and insight they need,” says Beekley.
One tactic that Beekley has seen success with to promote engagement is through Sequoia’s popular “Ask Me Anything” sessions, where an expert is invited into the community to take questions for two days. Utilizing Sequoia’s vast rolodex of resources and partners, they can tap into anyone from legal to wellbeing to total rewards professionals to provide answers that their CSMs may not have on hand.
Beekley says one of the most prominent examples of this, in the current climate, has been bringing in legal experts from strategic partners to answer questions about vaccination requirements, mask mandates, and managing a hybrid workplace.
These AMAs also spark new conversations and questions after these sessions have ended.
“We received one follow-up question asking, ‘The federal vaccine mandate has been struck down, but we still want to require vaccinations to keep our employees safe – how can we best manage that?’ And several other clients have jumped in to share ideas with each other and call out important compliance issues to consider.”
Streamlining solutions for the CS team
Before the Grove Online Community existed, CSMs were relying heavily on one another to provide every answer for their 1,700+ clients via an internal Salesforce community. Rather than playing the middleman to get answers, now CSMs can refer questions directly to the community for a faster, and more relevant, response.
“Launching the community has been really well received by our CSMs. They can now point clients to it to get the answer directly from the source rather than to try to remember what they thought that other client did last year,” says Beekley.
In addition to getting answers from fellow client members, the community has created a feedback loop for Sequoia and its product team. “It’s adding a whole new level of connection that we didn’t have before,” says Beekley. “We provide product FAQs and if there’s a question that we didn’t already answer, clients chime in. They put it in the comments and then our product manager comes in to respond and makes sure that the Q&A gets added to the FAQ.
Doubling down on community
What started as a need for increased client connection and reduced CSM questions, has now turned into one of Sequoia’s top value propositions. After a successful first year, the team is ready to invest in the Grove Online Community for year two. Sequoia is excited to bring on a community manager to build out events, implement gamification, and get all new Sequoia clients set up in the community as a part of their onboarding process from the start.
“Our clients can see the value of these amazing conversations and insights. It’s a huge point of retention for us because clients know that they have exclusive access to these other leaders. We don’t keep our clients siloed – we’re very proud to help them chat with one another and share ideas to be the best HR leader they can possibly be.”
Want to see how community can help your business? Request a demo and talk to one of our product experts.