Leading support in your community like a PRO

Let’s say your community mainly helps users succeed with a product or a service, your duty is not only answer your members, god no! You’re not a moderator or support specialist. You’re a community manager and your aim is to build a thriving and healthy community, so you need that your members live an awesome experience, especially if it’s the first.

Everyone deserve an answer

Periodically check all new support topics and be sure that every question is answered. Believe me, asking a question and wait for an answer for days is a frustrating feeling. Make sure, if you see a question with no answer after 2–3 days, step in and help or tag someone who can help

Train your community to answer

You can’t be always the only one who helps, involving others in this process is essential. Simple tip: call upon specific people to help other specific people. Doing that you’ll obtain three outcomes:

  • called into question, people will be more inclined to participate and lend a hand
  • people feel as experts in the field and that helps them realize their own strengths
  • helping newcomers, and be thanked for it, is very satisfying

Ensure the posters feel they’re treated as an individual

Take the time to truly understand the problem, asking as many questions as possible to go deeper into the matter. Try to empathize with the person, don’t use generic sweet-talk but be personal and specific to his needs.

Tip: avoid to call him/her OP (Short for Original Poster) but use always his real name or nickname.

Read the Fucking Manual is not an answer

I consider RTFM very rude, your community should move away from saying or needing to say RTFM and be open to helping others

You should keep a friendly atmosphere in the community at all cost, this means that you have to give the right example and address members that are being rude telling them to respond in a friendly way.

Point newcomers to documentation for simple solutions and give them the link to specific information. That costs a little more but it is a far better way to ‘being friendly’.
This also gives you, the members that do know, an extra task of getting the documentation up, correct and to date.

Close the loop

You have to ensure that the issue is resolved, check periodically all the unsolved topics and follow-up asking for a confirm from the poster.

You will show interest in him and make the discussion useful for the whole community. If it’s needed I suggest you escalate the issues that matter to the right people: developers, project leaders or QA team.

Every community can be a nice support community but making that support awesome is your job.

Thanks Rob and Laura for reviewing this article, Rich and the NethServer Community for inspiring it