When workflow automation company Zapier was implementing community into its organization, it wasn’t only to engage with its customers but also its 100% remote team. We spoke to Jillian Bejtlich, Director of Self-Serve Customer Experience at Zapier about how community became the glue to get people together for peer-to-peer support and inspiration.
Enlisting subject matter expertise from Community
Back in 2020, Zapier originally intended for its community to be a place for organic engagement. Unsurprisingly, it morphed into a full-blown customer support community. With Zapier’s vast number of 5,000 integrations, there was an inherent need for a wide range of expertise and support. The company realized this level of support couldn’t only come from internal resources. “There is no way we can hire enough people to be subject matter experts in all of those applications, so we rely on our community to tell us what needs to be answered, documented, learned about, and pushed out as a resource. Community helps us filter and sort the noise into real actionable, evergreen resources,” says Bejtlich.
However, peer-to-peer support and engagement didn’t happen overnight. Bejtlich knew from her more than 15 years of community experience that she needed to demonstrate the behaviors she hoped to see reflected in the community. “No one wants to be the first person on the dance floor,” she says. “Community managers are there to be the fools on the dance floor. We start the party.”
Some tactics the Zapier team used to “start the party” were friendly team introductions in the community, then expanding its engagement network from its internal team to pulling in customers or experts and directly asking them to post questions as the community matured.
In addition to Bejtlich’s community strategy, she admits the company’s remote workforce helped get the community buy-in she needed to get the resources and support. Unlike many organizations where you have to beg and barter for additional community headcount, Bejtlich has been able to grow her team to a total of eight individuals, all focused on specific areas from Ops, content, and moderation. “We’ve always been 100% remote, and therefore, we’re really good at using Community as that glue to get people together,” she says.
One example of this is the Community-first culture can be seen at Zapier’s annual customer conference, where outside its event platform, the community is the natural continuation of conference conversations, questions, and finding Zapier inspiration.
inSided’s solution and impact
Fast forward a few years later, Zapier has no issue with getting its estimated 2.2M users to engage. The community content averages about 180K pageviews per month. However, to keep up with the activity, moderation capabilities were vital. This need to run a large-scale support community with ease and more in-depth analytics lead Zapier to migrate from Vanilla to inSided back in 2020.
“Our team really enjoys the custom moderation views we’re able to set up, but even more than that is the fact we’re able to use the Zapier + inSided integration to push out flagged topics to our moderation Slack channel and have an extensive Zapier + inSided + Airtable workflow that lets us triage all new posts and all posts needing follow up,” she says.
In fact, the Zapier integration is one of the most attractive features that caught the attention of the team. This capability allows the community team to push its data out of inSided and into virtually any platform they choose.
“We have a massive triage system that we have set up where it pushes our content from inSided out to AirTable, so every single day we come in and know exactly what we have to work on because of that triage system,” says Bejtlich.
Sleek design with no-coding necessary
In addition to moderation and the integration, Zapier wanted to create a community aesthetic that gave its members what Bejtlich describes as that “warm and fuzzy feeling,” which meant something modern, user-friendly, and sleek. “We have received a lot of compliments. We have random people who will ask us on Twitter, ‘who runs Zapier community? It’s so pretty,’ so it’s cool to have those experiences,” she says.
The only challenge with designing this non-nineties-looking community was that there weren’t many developer resources at the team’s disposal. They needed a tool that was easy to customize with their team, and inSided’s no-code solution was a perfect fit. “What’s cool is that when you look at the Zapier community today, that’s nearly out of the box, plus a little bit of HTML and CSS,” says Bejtlich. “Almost any Community Manager out there could probably figure out how to do what we did. That was a huge driving factor for picking this platform.”
The future of Zapier Community
Zapier’s community continues to become more extensive, more organized, and more efficient as time goes on. The long-term goals the team strives for can be viewed from two different lenses. From a stakeholder perspective, the focus is on making community an integral part of the company’s Digital Customer Success strategy.
“Community weaves in and out of countless parts of our organization, meaning we’re constantly listening and learning internally and externally. We’re constantly finding ways to deliver knowledge to both our organization and our customers,” says Bejtlich.
From a customer perspective, the focus is to have a place for automation inspiration.
“Whether you’re a teacher, parent, CEO, small business owner – it doesn’t matter what we want for you. We want you to feel comfortable coming into the Zapier Community, and finding something that inspires you. We want you walking out and being like hell yeah, I can automate my business,” exclaims Bejtlich.
The team is also taking into account more experimental metrics to track the impact of the community including the ratio of self-serve visitors to weekly active users, ratio of self-serve visitors to weekly ticket submitters, percentage of overall Zapier site activity, and Community ROI. According to Bejtlich, being able to connect the dots for these figures will be the difference to show Community’s true impact on the business.