So you want to improve your partner community. You worked hard on it and had high hopes that it would be the sparkle in your partners’ eyes, but it fell flat. Maybe the content isn’t what your partners are looking for (maybe they can’t even find it!), or maybe piecemeal, band-aid-like updates have taken a toll on the user experience and overall design.
We hear you, and we’re here to guide you down the path of improvement. This article, part 1 of 2, will discuss the first step in community improvement: gathering feedback.
What needs aren’t being met?
As with any user experience improvement, you start by finding the need or needs that aren’t being met. Begin by talking to those who use the community – those users that are registering deals, downloading white papers and marketing collateral, and who are reaching out to your channel or support team for assistance. Ask them questions, aggregate their answers and analyze how you can improve upon their experience.
Methods of gathering feedback
You don’t need to utilize all of these methods, just find the ones that are appropriate for your company and your partners. There are pros and cons to each method: Anecdotal may not be as reliable as analytics or user observation and user observation may take more effort to conduct than a survey.
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Have you been documenting comments or concerns that partners have come to you with? Use this! Or have an informal conversation your partners about how they use (or don’t use) the community.
Interviews can take the form of in-person or over phone. Surveys are a bit more flexible as you can send them as an email or communication through the community.
Invite partners to come into your office and perform specific tasks while watching them. Or you can schedule a time to do a screenshare and virtually watch them use the partner community and ask them questions.
If you have website analytics connected to your community, you can gather real-time and historical feedback on page visits, demographics and device usage. In addition, you can analyze form-fill data (case creation, lead generation) and review if there were consistent errors being thrown back to the user, possibly indicating a technical error on the form.
Questions to ask
You’ll want to focus on certain areas in order to get a better idea of where to prioritize your community improvements. For example, there’s no need to focus on improving the quality of the content if partners can’t find it in the first place.
Searchability / Navigation
- How long does it take them to find what they’re looking for?
- What methods are they using to find information?
- What pages do they visit most and how are they getting to them? (navigation, bookmarking, multiple clicks, etc.)
- How effective are your knowledge articles in resolving issues?
- Are your downloads current and relevant to the audience?
- Are your partners getting announcements tailored to them?
- Do you allow the ability to follow content (articles, downloads, etc.)?
Reports & Dashboards
- Are they able to see at a glance, dashboards of important information (deal status, partner tier status, etc.)?
- How are your partners using list views/reports?
- Are your partners able to create and export reports & dashboards?
- What contact channels are most used? Which are most effective in resolving the issue quickly?
- What kind of deflection is offered in the contact process?
- Do you offer a live chat (ie, Live Agent)? Would it benefit your partners?
- Do you offer partners a platform on which to submit ideas for products/services?
Pulling it all together
Once you’ve gathered your feedback from your partners in whatever methods you may use, start analyzing it for trends. This analysis of data lends itself well to creating user stories and requirements for your partner community improvement project.
In the next blog post we’ll discuss putting the feedback you received to work, and how to improve upon the user experience for your partners.