M-Files is launching a new online user community on March 15. In the weeks prior to launch, it's a good time to take a step back and consider online user communities in general. What do they do? What needs do they serve? And why are they so important for SaaS success?
It used to be that technology adoption was viewed as a relatively simple transaction — with a clear start and end.
Decide what software you need.
Learn how to use it.
Today's SaaS providers understand what their predecessors did not — that adopting new technology is a process, not a transaction, and there are many varying stages along the customer journey. At every stage, a customer has distinct needs and questions.
Enter communities. Online user communities serve customers by providing a clear place for customers to ask questions, get resources, and provide input, regardless of where they are in their journey. How do communities do that?
Communities Connect People.
Communities bring together people with shared interests, values, and needs (and they have done that since well before the "online" part was even invented). In an online community, a SaaS customer can share ideas and best practices — not just with SaaS employees and experts, but with other customers, customers who face the exact same challenges that they do.
"You encountered that? So did WE, and here's how we handled it."
Communities Consolidate Resources.
Most SaaS companies offer extensive resources for customer and administrator training and enablement — user training, administrator training, quick tips. But from a customer perspective, it can be hard to keep track of what's available, and even if you remember which resource you need, it can be even harder to remember where that resource lives. Communities solve this problem by providing one place from which all relevant resources can be linked and accessed.
Communities Fill the Knowledge Gaps.
Even with plentiful training resources, it's easy for a customer to have a question that doesn't quite fit under a nice, tidy heading — leaving the customer with not only the question itself, but the burden of having to figure out where to ask it. Is this a support question or a settings question? Or is it a procedure question that doesn't actually touch on the technology at all? Communities provide a place for SaaS customers to ask any question, even if they're not sure whom to ask or what the underlying factors are.
Communities Give Customers a Voice.
SaaS providers know their own software inside and out, but it's the customers who understand what it's like to use that software in real time. Customers have extraordinary insight into new use cases and problems. An online community gives customers a chance to share that insight and offer ideas for how the software might develop.
What to Expect from the M-Files Community — Launching March 15
Our entire team is excited for the launch of the M-Files Community on March 15. The purpose is to bring together customers, admins, partners and M-Files employees to discuss all things M-Files. Whether it's a technical question, best practices or just a nickel's worth of free advice, the M-Files Community will:
- Establish a sense of connection within the global M-Files community. With thousands of customers and many more individual users, the community is the one-stop destination connecting every one of us that share a passion for M-Files intelligent information management.
- Facilitate self-service. The community is a place where users can get answers quickly from the community without the need to log a formal support ticket (although our Customer Success advocates will still be available for your support needs)
- Help us gather feedback from M-Files users about the product. In our customer-centric business, feedback is a gift, and we want to hear from you. The community is an avenue for users and admins to provide feedback, which will inform future product roadmaps.
For a quick debrief on the M-Files Community, listen to our recent podcast with Julian Cook, M-Files Chief Customer Officer, and Jocelyn Flint, Global Community Manager, for more on the purpose, roadmap and expectations of the M-Files Community.