Entry Submitted by: Claudius Henrichs (Claudius) Community Manager
Community: Skype Support Network (community.skype.com)
Lithy Categories: Best Business ROI, Best Global Implementation
The Skype Support Network, launched in June 2011, is Skype’s peer-to-peer support community and provides a direct channel for feedback and exchange between our users and product teams.
What happens if you flip on all switches “Community” and put the spotlight on a previously hidden tech support forum? We did just that and turned it into a vibrant location for exchange around everything Skype. Within just over 7 months page views skyrocketed and have more than doubled. A highly engaged, dedicated user base presented with the right tools utilize them every day now to improve theirs and other’s Skype experience.
Several aspects lead to the huge success – both outside and inside the company – of this project, each itself worth highlighting.
Reflecting our truly global product we launched the community in eight languages. The landing page was designed to showcase our language communities and the latest activities and hot topics in each of those. Our visitors appreciated the fact that they could exchange in their language and within days we had Super Users covering all time zones around the world
Making the community a place you wanted to stay and return to was our primary goal. That’s why we came up with several programs that rewarded visitors. The Community News highlight weekly activity, discussions and user participation. The highlighted user and topic of the week invited users to stay while longer and engage in the conversation.
We are most proud about our #SkypeTalks live events: Questions raised simultanousy via a dedicated community board and Twitter were replied on by product managers inside Skype. This helped prioritize the next developments sprints through the insight gained and gave the user a very rewarding feedback experience. And in the end it raised awareness of our product features.
Eventually the community has helped us identify and resolve new product issues within 24 hours of launch that would normally have taken days. E.g. the community compiled a list of problematic devices with regards to video calling on Android. Based on that we were able to issue a hotfix within days after our initial release. This extended the list of supported devices and thereby consumer satisfaction.
Already the first week after the launch in June 2011 our Community Health Index passed 600 and it’s rise has not stopped yet. We have since passed a score of 700 which put us in line with other Lithium established communities that have been developing for much longer than the 7 months we did.
But the CHI is more than just a number: It reflects that our users are on average getting a reply quicker than via our own customer service. In the majority of cases even answering their question right away providing is with a first contact resolution rate of around 70%. We now engage 3 Million users per month, growing 10% month over month since last June.
Another goal of the community switch was to offer answers on new and trending support questions faster and deliver them on a more direct channel.
We achieved that by integrating helpful content (Accepted Solutions) and related topics to our existing copywriter authored knowledge base content on our Skype Support page. A category based selection logic ensures the related topics are pulled from the correct board.
It works as an additional motivational factor to our Super User: “Great to have our work surfaced to more users to get their problems solved”. Eventually this integration serves as an attractive entry point to join the community discussion with latest stats reflecting the activity taking place.
Behind the curtain we also made full use of the Single-Sign-On feature in Lithium. It is not only used for authenticating users to access with their Skype Name, but we also implemented a tight integration allowing Skype Customer Service staff to one-click quickly check back office user data for cases escalated from the community. The sleek integration ensured the feature to be attractive in everyday use.
Best of all we were pleased to see a 10% reduction in our traditional support costs through reduced number of contacts that we could relate to the introduction of the new Lithium community platform. Much harder to quantify but definitely present are the revenue improvements gained from the increased customer satisfaction through the product improvements we could introduce based on the community feedback. Compared to previous methods if gathering feedback (e.g. through web based forms) the round trip time is much shorter and we can react quicker.
In the end the whole community stands or falls with our dedicated Super Users sharing their expert knowledge and creative solutions on using our products. They have spent 1½ years online time on their community while it had not even had it’s own birthday yet. During that time they contributed 14% of all content including 38% of the very valuable accepted solutions. As a token of appreciation we highlighted five of them in our end of year awards on our Community news blog with a short interview and portrait.
Our stellar Super User goes by the nickname “TheUberOverLord”, is a self-proclaimed “White Hat” computer expert and contributed 5% of all posts since the launch. His engagement inspired several other users to become engaged and eventually Super users as well.
I want to close with inviting you all to our community and taking this opportunity to thank our community members for their passion and engagement that makes this such a success. We are entering this award as a way of saying thanks to our Super Users!
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