Customer Success Network created a Workplace community for customer success managers to ask questions and learn from each other. It employed the same principles required for a successful customer community to its own community and, with the help of SWOOP, ambassadors were identified to help build the culture of the community, which has become a place of trust.
Customer Success Network (CSN) is a not-for-profit community for customer success managers (CSMs), mostly across Europe and the Middle East. The community is open to current and aspiring CSMs.
CSN’s vision is that through the community, every customer success manager has someone to ask for help. Members run events across cities in Europe and the Middle East and boast a vibrant online community on Workplace.
CSN’s chief executive Kate Forgione explains the network was established in response to the absence of a community in Europe for Customer Success Managers to learn and develop. Customer Success is the fourth fastest growing job title in the United States and Australia.
“Customer success managers were being hired from being account managers, project managers and consultants and taking on this new role and having to learn, but having nowhere to learn,” she said.
“This is all about peer learning and our objective is to make it the place people go if they ever need help or there’s a problem they can’t solve on their own.”
CSN took more than six months to make a final decision to implement Workplace as its community platform. The appeal of Workplace was that CSN could build a community recognising the different focus areas in customer success, as well as enabling geographic groups to form.
Most importantly, conversations across the community could be surfaced and shared from all groups. The CSN network is part of Workplace for Good, Workplace’s network for non-profit and educational institutions.
CSN began using Workplace as a test in January 2018. Kate said the first 100 users were incredibly active, and reported getting value from the community in Workplace, so they decided to continue.
“We were looking for a community platform which was intuitive to use, allowed relevant content to be surfaced to users, didn’t create silos but did enable working spaces and a relatively seamless sign on,” Kate said.
“Workplace met those requirements.”
The CSN Workplace network now has more than 1,200 members and is growing at a rate of about 100 new members each month.
Finding passionate people to lead the network
One of the first things CSN did to engage members was to welcome them to the network with Welcome Wednesdays, where new members are introduced and welcomed to the community.
The next step was finding Community Ambassadors for the network. These are passionate people who are willing to effectively act as community managers for their groups. CSN has built online training for these ambassadors.
“Starting a new community, there are always a few people who need to be more active,” Kate said.
“Of course, the risk is that these people keep the community active, rather than the community finding value itself.”
With SWOOP, CSN was able to identify potential ambassadors by using the “Most Influential People” widget and keep them engaged by encouraging them to check SWOOP to monitor the success of their posts and groups.
“Our Ambassadors are all volunteers, who help community manage in their spare time,” said Violaine Yziquel, CSN’s Head of Community Engagement.
“They commit to building value in the community, but don’t know the impact they are making. With SWOOP they can gauge the success of initiatives they take.”
Violaine said the Ambassadors are encouraged to make one post a week in their group but, more importantly, they are asked to ensure all posts have replies.
Almost every group on the network has at least three posts a day so there is little need for more content if conversations are happening organically.
“We built the community with people who were as passionate about what we were doing as we were,” she said.
“These 50-odd ambassadors are very active and not only contribute content, but also build the tone of the culture we want to have in our community.”
Keeping members engaged
Kate says as a peer learning organisation for customer success managers, CSN aims to apply the same principles required for a successful customer community to its own community.
“We have a manifesto we have built the community with, and this underpins our goals for the community,” she said.
“Our principles are very much around holocracy (self-management), so we guide people to get the value they need and have great experiences while doing it.
“Community project working groups to create new assets are led by our members, cross-company and cross-geography. It’s all about connecting people with common needs and interests.”
Kate said all of CSN’s events, in person and online, are planned openly on Workplace. All events are hosted by volunteers. Event tickets are shared with CSN’s Workplace community before they are advertised via mailing lists or other social media.
All CSN’s Workplace groups are kept public, where possible. And communications in CSN’s monthly newsletter, and many social media posts, are linked back to Workplace.
There are social groups where members can connect and the translation feature allows easy interaction no matter what language is spoken.
“We’ve created a place of trust between people, so they can share the challenges they are having and feel supported to resolve them,” Kate said.
Using SWOOP to help with engagement
The goal of CSN is to ensure members bring value to their job by being a part of the community. CSN’s Workplace network is another tool, on top of all the tools members use at work and in their personal life, so it needs be interesting and relevant.
Kate says CSN achieves this by using SWOOP to build on the goals:
- Regular new questions around customer success topics
- Ensuring no post is left without a response
- Growing the number of Influencers
Kate said CSN uses SWOOP to find the “Most Engaging Posts” each month and then shares the Workplace link to the posts in the monthly newsletter.
“We set the monthly dates to understand which threads were most active on Workplace and share them as links in our community,” she said.
“We use SWOOP to guide what conversations we’ll have with our community ambassadors on our quarterly calls. It allows us to be focused on what we will aim for. As these people are all volunteers, they need to know the time they assign is creating an impact.”
Innovations on Workplace
With customer success being such a new and in-demand role, companies are constantly wanting to recruit new CSMs. A “Jobs” group was established in the CSN Workplace network where colleagues can endorse other members through referrals.
“Anyone who is posting for jobs can post directly here in the community,” Kate said.
“The chance of a successful hire is greater through referrals, so it makes sense that we enable referral hiring as a big part of our community. We do not allow agency recruiters to post roles.”
Mentoring programs are also run through CSN’s Workplace community, along with a success library.
Kate tells the story of when she was looking to implement some software but didn’t know much about it. She posted on Workplace and asked if anyone used it, and if they don’t, what do they use?
“Within 10 minutes, I had 20 responses,” she said.
“Straight away I could go, ‘this isn’t the product for us for’. Everyone here said it breaks, don’t use it. Not one person said it was a good idea.
“It helped us make a decision so fast and that could be a decision that if I didn’t have that platform it could have taken a day or two, or a week or two, to solve because you have to go and research, find people who have used it and spend time asking around.”
Kate attributes CSN’s success on Workplace to role modelling best practices used to create a successful customer community.
“We are incredibly thankful for the ongoing support of both Workplace and SWOOP Analytics to help us build one of the best communities in the world,” she said.
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