You hear companies rave about their user communities and how they let their clients participate in the company’s roadmap to the future.
But what is a user community? How does it work? Is it worthwhile, and how can you get the most out of it?
I have been part of a number of user communities over the years. Those that have succeeded long term in helping the users get the most out of the supported product have had two common attributes:
- The company's product support team actively participates in answering questions and acknowledging issues. When the support team participates, the community becomes a two-way communication platform that—over time—results in a better product and more informed users.
- The users actively use the community by posting questions and issues, and also by attempting to answer questions posted by other users. When a user posts a question to a community, they leave a legacy for future users to benefit from. In addition, when a user answers the question of another user, they add new perspectives to a discussion that the product support team may not have thought of.
When participating in a user community, don't be afraid to ask questions—even if you feel like the answer should be obvious. If you have that question, the odds are that others have it as well and so will future users. Take the time to read other users’ questions and the answers given. That question may not apply directly to you today, but it may in the future, or it may even spur a new idea for you. I personally have gotten a number of great ideas from other users when reviewing questions in community forums.
Finally, contribute to a conversation if you have an idea or you can build on the question. If you’re not sure about your answer, add a disclaimer and post your idea so others can consider your answer and build on it.
The defi community is still young, but it is building a foundation that will benefit all users. defi’s product support team is active in the community, answering questions and even asking questions on behalf of users. What the community still needs is more active participation by the users. There are a number of us using it, but I know there are more of you out there. The more of us contributing to the community, the more all of us will get out of it.”
What do you think makes a great user community? Send me your comments below!
Glen Kauffmann serves as CTO of Heritage Financial Group