There’s no question we live in an age of rapid technological advancement. Just about everyone carries a computer in their pocket these days, and futuristic technologies like self-driving cars and artificial intelligence seem right around the corner. With new devices being invented all the time, it can be hard for consumers to keep up.
Paradoxically, people expect more from their tech than ever before. So it makes sense they would expect more from their tech support as well. When their device isn’t functioning properly, they want a solution fast – but to provide that kind of on-demand support necessary for a widely-adopted product, companies would need a huge service force.
Service communities can be a solution to this knowledge gap. In these communities, in-the-know individuals provide support for less savvy users in exchange for compensation. But this can only work if your community is engaged and active – so how to build engaged service communities?
Know Your Target Group
The first step to building an effective service community is finding the communities that are already out there. If your specialization is popular, chances are there are online discussion forums, Facebook groups, and other areas where people congregate to discuss and troubleshoot. That’s where you should start building your service community – with people who are already engaged and passionate.
Onboarding Is Key
Once you’ve located some passionate people, get them onboard. Introduce them to your brand, what your mission is, how you aim to accomplish that, and most importantly: the role you see for them in your organization.
Keep Your Techs Engaged
The work doesn’t stop after you’ve onboarded your techs. Service communities, with the on-demand, semi-casual nature of the work, can quickly wither away if they aren’t properly maintained. You don’t stop watering a plant after it produces its first fruits, and communities are the same way: they need to be nurtured to continue being productive. Start and maintain a conversation through weekly newsletters, forums, gamification, extra rewards and competitions, community events – the possibilities are endless.
Here at Mila, we involved our techs – called Mila Friends – by asking them to suggest new services that they could perform for customers. This was an organic way to build on the skill base we had already engaged. By contributing ideas that really impacted the business, the community felt involved and a part of something bigger.
Give Them Work!
Remember what this is about – despite how much they love the products and the service, your techs are, at the bottom line, looking for work. If they don’t have enough service requests, they become disengaged, and might even drift away entirely or join another service community. It can be difficult to keep demand and supply in balance, but that balance is crucial.
Be There For Them When They Need You
Remember, your techs are your business. Make sure you have someone on staff – a Community Manager – present at all times to be there for your techs when something goes wrong. This is crucially important: how many Airbnb hosts would list their own house for rental if Airbnb didn’t have such robust insurance guarantees? Techs need to know that, if something goes wrong, they will be heard and listened to. Make sure you empower your Community Manager to listen to these concerns – and solve them.
Service Communities Help Move Everyone Forward
Service communities can be the solution to one of the crucial issues standing between us and our technological future: the knowledge gap. By making knowledge more accessible, they provide an equalizing force, encouraging less-savvy people to take the plunge and upgrade their devices.
It takes a lot of work to nurture a service community into existence. The community requires constant maintenance. Your techs need to be engaged and employed or they find other uses for their time. But with the right maintenance and enough work to go around, your service community will grow – there’s sure to be a market for it.