If you feel like you’re caught trying to go upstream in a surging metrics river, you’re not alone.
But we do have to measure our community activity and member behavior to get a handle on customer satisfaction. The health of a community is dependent on the health of customers’ interactions and feedback.
So we’re faced with two questions: what should we measure, and how? This is when the impending flood of metrics advice and tools looms again. This is when we need to take a step back and define what community success is. To do that, engagement and satisfaction should be separate.
Celebrate and encourage engagement. Focus on collecting and tracking customer feedback. Measure both to see satisfaction trends.
Engagement doesn't guarantee satisfaction
A thriving community should boast engagement and satisfaction, but they are not created equal. Does engagement necessarily equate to satisfaction, and should you highly engage everyone?
The short answer: no, but aim for both. Engagement often correlates with satisfaction. Those engaged members can be seen as happier and more likely to recommend the community to peers, which helps it grow organically.
But there are different levels of community engagement, and it’s not always an accurate portrayal of member or product satisfaction. That’s where tracking interactions and feedback come in handy.
There are myriad ways to quantify your community, so make sure you’ve defined what an engaged, versus satisfied, member means for your organization.
Examples of an engaged member
- Logging into the community
- Contributing to discussions and answering questions
- Creating content (blogs, FAQs, white papers, webinars)
If your community members are engaged, it can be a sign they’re satisfied with their community experience and see it as an important asset.
Examples of a satisfied member
- Long-term community member
- Responds to community surveys with positive (or constructive) feedback
- Refers the community to others
Your community members could be extremely satisfied with their community experience, but never contribute to discussions or only log in once a month.
Do you make community feedback easy?
In The Community Roundtable’s State of Community Management 2016 Report (SOCM Report), findings showed that best-in-class communities are more than two times as likely to have formal feedback mechanisms for their communities.
If we can elicit more feedback from engaged members, we’ll have a clearer picture of community satisfaction. What do these effective feedback channels look like, and what should we pull from them?
- Product enhancements. When people come together to help each other through problems, you gain insight into what they think is useful, problematic, or missing.
- Self-service and advice center. When people have a central location to ask questions and search for answers, others have the opportunity to jump in with advice and solutions that often fixes the problem in the first place - crowdsourcing at its best.
- Formal customer support. Beyond daily inquiry and product tweaks, you want to know what the people really think. It’s still important to offer surveys, email support, and even live chat or ticketing services to further support the community.
Best-in-class communities from the SOCM Report were more likely to include members in strategy revision and development, and three times more likely to give members a defined role within their communities. Whether those roles involve moderation, volunteering or becoming a community ambassador, it will help to close the feedback loop and trigger intrinsic motivation for members to continue.
Sidenote: How difficult is it for any community member to engage and/or offer feedback in the first place? According to customer support research, there is a disparity between effort and delight.
The right questions to ask, the right metrics to track
We love the list of customer satisfaction questions from this Help Scout blog post, to gauge the overall health of your customers. We’ve tweaked the list to fit into a community ecosystem:
- Are community members’ expectations being met when they ask a question or search for something?
- What has community member activity been like [in the last week, month, quarter, etc.]?
- Have there been any outliers recently?
- How likely are customers to recommend the community to their friends and colleagues?
- How much effort do community members expend when they look to solve a problem on the community?
You’re probably already tracking metrics like new members joined, discussion posted and logins, but the best-in-class communities go further. Consider adding metrics like new member activity types and unanswered questions.
Look to your feedback channels and current community activity to refine your community satisfaction methods.