The Help Desk of the Future: How User-Centric Support Communities are Changing the Game

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28 Jul

Who do you ask for help? For most of us, it’s our peers. We pull out our Yelp app to see whether the new restaurant in town is worth checking out, or we chat with someone in the grocery store line to find a recommendation for car repairs. This practice helps us problem solve and form an opinion about the world around us.

With the internet bridging the gap between individuals, we trust what other people have to say about a place or a product, even a person we’ve never met.

The same goes for when we encounter a problem. We turn to a search engine for solutions, and what we get is a mixed bag. YouTube anyone? Some of it is helpful. Some of it outdated, but we usually find what we’re looking for. Instead of sending another support ticket to an ambiguous help desk person in cyberspace, how about finding a support community of peers using the same service or product?

The user-centric support model exists to partner a business need with people’s altruistic impulse to help others. And it’s one that Bandwidth is testing with current cloud services product offerings.

One example is with RingTo, a service of Bandwidth that picks up where your service provider left off by moving your number to a cloud platform. No longer tethered to your service provider, your number is powered by WiFi or forwarded on up to four other devices.

The RingTo support forum, called The Community, maximizes our small team’s capacity to serve our active 300,000+ subscribers. How?

1. By identifying trends and problem areas faster.

Participation is a two way street. It gives users an opportunity to provide valuable feedback, answer questions, and enjoy an elevated level of access to our team. The process is dynamic and unfolds at a much faster rate than an isolated email thread between support agent and the user. It socializes the issue and helps moderators identify where escalation is necessary.

2. By engaging power users who help offload the burden of support.

Helping others is a rewarding altruistic impulse, especially in areas we feel passionate about. We ask our users to “be the expert” and share their knowledge of our product where possible. A user-centric support community isn’t just about asking a question or getting an answer. It’s about networking with others who have similar interests. Power users are facilitators who point users to existing documentation for FAQs, assist with troubleshooting, and inspire conversations.

3. By improving customer satisfaction and support response time.

When a company provides a dedicated space for their users to interact and ask questions, both parties win. Above 90 percent of users who write into The Lounge (RingTo’s discussion forum) receive a response. Even more compelling, the average response time is now 1 day for a user to receive a support response…from a free service! Support is shared by community advocates and moderators who believe in advancing the product. This kind of engagement is how RingTo is upholding the Bandwidth promise to make things the way they should be.

Lauren Ruef
Lauren Ruef
lruef@bandwidth.com

Lauren is a social media enthusiast who was hired by Bandwidth on Twitter. She now works as a digital marketing consultant. She lives in Portland, Oregon and is doing her part to keep the dream of the 90s alive. When she's not creating content, she goes on road trips and makes people listen to Taylor Swift in her car.

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