Understanding the Community
Having a centralized location to interact with end users and customers is key to any business. With that in mind, SmarterTrack includes a customer community area. The Community integrates functionality found in a traditional forum, along with added features, and allows users to post comments and suggestions, ask questions, or offer other feedback, and even has a voting system where users can upvote things like feature requests or answers to questions.
Of course, for a community to be truly effective, the communication needs to be two-way. That's why the Community allows agents to reply to topics, mark a reply as the answer to the question, or even set a status for problems and ideas. This means agents can reply to items posted in the community and also keep users apprised of where a particular issue, question or problem resides in the communications pipeline.
Elements of the Community
The Community is made up of a few elements that piece together to make it organized and efficient:
Types - There are four Types available when creating a thread that are used to organize thread content: Announcements, Ideas, Problems and Questions. All communication in the Community can be sorted into one of these types.
Statuses - For each type there are associated statuses. (Except for Announcements.) These can be switched as the thread evolves to help keep users up-to-date on the progress of the thread at a quick glance. The statuses are listed below, with the default status that is set when a user creates the thread listed first:
- Under Consideration
- In Progress
- Not a Problem
- Being Fixed
Categories - Categories are used to separate threads within the Community. These can be customized to your company, based on the products or services offered, or types of discussions you’d like to encourage. For example, if your company sells jewelry, separate categories for “General Discussion”, “Necklaces”, “Bracelets”, and “Earrings” might be beneficial. Roles can also be used to create private categories that only specific users can access. This is helpful if you’d like to receive feedback from or discuss future products with only a specific group of users.
Tags - Tags are customizable keywords that add a broad explanation of the thread’s content. By clicking on a tag, users can find other threads with the same tag or similar content. Using the example above, if a user posts in the Necklace Category, they might add a tag for the name of the necklace that was purchased. Note: When a thread is assigned a category, the category name will appear among the list of tags and can be distinguished from user-created tags by their grey color.
Voting System - The voting system encourages user collaboration at the click of a button by allowing users to mark threads that they feel are important or valuable. Voting is specifically beneficial when used with threads posted with an Idea Type as these help users and agents take notice of the popular requests or bug reports. Replies to threads can also be “liked” by using the thumbs-up icon to help users quickly identify responses that add value to a conversation.
User Profiles - Registered users in the Community have a unique user profile that includes their recent community activity, a brief text overview and statistics on their participation. Agents that are logged in and viewing a user’s profile can see their contact information, as well as quickly start an outbound ticket with the user or view their past communications and user details. In addition, users can communicate amongst each other, and agents, privately using the Conversations found in their user profile section.
Browsing the Community
Community threads are fully searchable and search engine friendly, adding an additional layer of search engine optimization to your customer portal. Users can utilize the search bar to organize and view threads by keywords, Tags, Category, Type and/or Status so that threads are easily found. Furthermore, the bolding and highlighting of unread content helps users quickly spot new activity that has not already been viewed.
Below the search bar are a number of tabs that can further narrow the search results or the browsing view. Note: Unless otherwise stated, threads are ordered by date of either the thread submission or date of last reply. Comments do not affect sort order.
- Recent - Displays threads in order of date.
- Votes - Displays threads by number of votes. Multiple threads with the same number of votes will be sorted by date.
- Unread - Displays all unread threads.
- My Activity - Displays the threads that you have created or have participated in.
- My Subscribed - Displays the threads that you are currently subscribed to. Note: Any participation in a Community thread will automatically subscribe you to that thread. A digest email that informs you of changes to all subscribed threads will be sent hourly. These settings can be altered per user in the My Settings area of the Portal.
- Moderate - Displays a list of items that need to be reviewed for abuse. Community Moderators will only see this tab when an item needs moderation.
- Banned (x) - Displays a list of users who are banned from participating in the Community, where x indicates the number of banned users. While Community threads may be viewed, the user will not be able to reply to threads, comment on replies, vote on threads, etc. The reason a user was banned is displayed next to their display name. Click the user to visit their Community profile, where the user can be unbanned using the red Banned flag.
When users create a Community thread they’ll choose whether to Propose an Idea, Report a Problem, or Ask a Question. If there are Categories configured, one must be selected from the list. Using the WYISWYG editor, users can format their post for clearer content or even add hyperlinks to URLs for easy navigation. Tags can be single words or phrases and are entered by pressing the Enter or Tab key or by using the mouse to click the tag that’s shown while typing. To avoid having multiple threads with similar content and to help answer common questions, a list of related Community threads and Knowledge Base articles can be found to the right. These threads and articles populate based on the tags, title and content of the thread being created. Furthermore, users will be automatically subscribed to threads that they create so they can stay up-to-date on its progression.
Complete Interaction and Self-Service
When coupled with the included Knowledge Base and News, the Community provides users with a full complement of self-help resources to find answers to questions, interact with others and truly centralize all of your customer communication into one area. In addition, as agents are able to interact with end users and customers, the Community gives a business yet another way to keep customers informed and interact with them from a single, centralized location.
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