Insights from a community manager

One of the people I chat with on Twitter, Toby Metcalf, works as a Community Management Associate at OnForce. The OnForce community has been in existence for six years,  Toby has been working with it for the last two years, and I asked him to share some insights from his experiences.

Q. What are the goals of your community?
A. My community is very unique to say the least. Our users are all OnForce service pros. The goals of my community are to make money and grow their IT / CE businesses. As a member of the Community Mgmt. team, I help manage the largest product my company offers; the service pros themselves – I help them use our platform efficiently, and provide them a forum to suggest site enhancements and an in-road to communicate problems.

Q. Is the community part of an overall strategy or something that grew organically due to grass-roots efforts?
A. The community is certainly part of our overall strategy: we have 2 products – our Platform and our Pro Community. Keeping the pros happy and giving them the tools to do their jobs makes our customers loyal to OnForce.

Q. Do you have usage policies setup for employees around how they are expected to behave within the community?
A. Absolutely. There are three of us on the Community Mgmt Team; we are the mods of the community and the voice of OnForce. We are the only three within OnForce who use our forums: it is very important that our messages are consistent, honest, and professional.

Q. What ROI have you seen from your community?
A. Because of all the experience and knowledge shared within our forums, our Pros can perform their jobs well, thus providing an excellent experience for our customers. Our customers believe in the quality of the pros they find on OnForce; this satisfaction translates into fewer calls to our Market Support team. It is our excellent community of Pros that makes OnForce the leader of our industry.

Q. What tools are you leveraging for your communities?
A. We have built an excellent command center for the Pros that helps them manages their work-day, as well as communicate with their customers. We have negotiated excellent rates (some even free) for industry specific training.

Q. Do you leverage mobile technologies as part of your communities?
A. We do: a WAP site for them to check and accept work orders through smart phones, an IVR for them to dial into and update their status with their customers (check in, check out of the site). A phone app is in the works – we are always looking to enhance our document management and mobile tools.

Q. What policies or best practices have you established?
A. Utilizing the IVR to document your time on site (Customers like a pro who is punctual as well as knowledgeable). Utilize our system to document any conversations that cover changes to work order scope or money (a phone call is great for communication, but not for documentation).

Q. Any tips for others involved in community management?
A. Be Fair
Be Honest
Ask questions
Admit when you are wrong
Don’t forget the personal touch – call or use direct messages

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Filed under: Social Strategies Tagged: community, Social Strategies, SSC
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