Peers Over Beers - Community Experts Podcast

In this episode of Peers over Beers, Nicole Saunders and Christopher Detzel have an insightful discussion about building relationships between community and customer success teams in order to drive greater customer engagement. They discuss tactics for integrating community into the customer journey from the outset, including onboarding new customers to the community. They also talk about creating aligned goals and metrics to demonstrate the business impact of community on customer success KPIs. 

Other topics covered include enabling customer success teams through content sharing, facilitating community events for customers, and optimizing program offerings based on data and impact. Overall, Saunders and Detzel provide a wealth of practical tips for leveraging community to enhance customer success initiatives and foster collaboration between the two teams. Their conversation offers valuable lessons for community leaders looking to strengthen cross-functional partnerships within their organizations.

Creators & Guests

Chris Detzel
Chris is a versatile Digital Community Strategist with several years of experience. He has owned community vision, strategy, and execution. He is responsible for leading the development and execution of community engagement programs, creating compelling content for customer communities and acts as the voice of the customer. He believes that data should drive decisions as it is the key element of any long-term successful strategy.
Nicole Saunders
As Director of Community at Zendesk, she oversee the Community Team (part of the Global Digital Experiences team), set strategy, define policy and governance, develop and launch new community products, and engage our user community. Our programs include: an online community, virtual events, user groups, community champions, customer advocacy, and an annual global virtual community summit.

What is Peers Over Beers - Community Experts Podcast?

B2B Community Strategist Chris Detzel is your host for this fun and straight shooting podcast for enterprise community leaders / managers and digital savvy professionals. With easy and natural inquisitive banter, your host will tackle hard issues facing community leaders and managers in their day-to-day struggles, and yes, sometimes over a beer. From starting new communities, digitally transforming enterprise culture, moderation, and globalization techniques are all up for discussion.

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Building Strong Connections Between Community and Customer Success

In today’s customer-centric business landscape, community and customer success teams play pivotal roles in driving engagement, satisfaction, and loyalty. But how can these two functions work together seamlessly to deliver the best possible customer experiences? On a recent episode of Peers over Beers, community leaders Nicole Saunders and Christopher Detzel dove into this important topic, sharing insights and strategies for fostering collaboration.

Integrating Community into the Customer Journey

As Detzel highlighted, it’s critical to embed community touchpoints into the customer journey from the very beginning. During onboarding, all new customers should be introduced to the community, educated on its benefits, and provided resources for getting involved. This lays the foundation for ongoing peer-to-peer engagement down the road. Saunders emphasized the importance of having customer success representatives personally invite customers to participate in community events like user groups and webinars.

Demonstrating Value Through Aligned Metrics

To gain executive buy-in for community, Saunders stressed the need to connect it to customer success KPIs. By tracking community participation and tying it back to metrics like customer satisfaction, retention, and account health, community leaders can clearly demonstrate value. Saunders gave the example of showing how engagement in both community and customer success offerings correlates to higher customer “scores.”

Enabling Customer Success with Community Content

What’s one of the easiest ways to equip customer success teams to drive community participation? Provide them with ready-made content to share. As Saunders explained, creating toolkits with emails, messaging templates, and promotional materials makes it effortless for reps to notify customers of upcoming community events and resources. They can quickly personalize these materials to connect with their specific book of business.

Optimizing Program Offerings Based on Data

With so many community programs to choose from, how can you streamline options for time-strapped customer success reps? Saunders advised regularly analyzing program data to identify which initiatives are moving the needle on business goals. Low-impact programs can be consolidated or reworked to optimize content. Additionally, creating clear “track” recommendations based on customer interests simplifies referrals.

Fostering Relationships Through Shared Goals

How do you first get connected with customer success leaders to pitch community collaboration? As Saunders shared, identify common challenges and find natural overlap between community and CS objectives. Come to the table ready to explain how community can augment or lighten the CS workload while powering their success. Maintain these relationships through regular check-ins as organizational priorities shift.

While challenges will always arise, keeping the customer at the center will guide community and customer success teams toward alignment. As Saunders and Detzel discussed, collaboration is integral to delivering consistent, high-quality customer experiences. By fostering strong relationships and data-driven decision making, community leaders can maximize their impact on customer satisfaction and loyalty.

The Power of Peer-to-Peer Connections

A core advantage community provides is enabling customers to connect with peers. Detzel gave the example of how some companies facilitate customer success managers hosting informal community events like "office hours." This provides a venue for customers to gather and have candid, peer-to-peer discussions to learn from each other's experiences and insights. Saunders noted that these types of community interactions are especially valuable for customers who don't have access to a dedicated CSM.

Evolving with Changing Needs

Even when strong programs are in place, changes within the organization can disrupt existing workflows. New leaders may come in unaware of existing community-customer success initiatives. Both Saunders and Detzel emphasized the importance of continually educating stakeholders as changes occur. For Saunders, this means proactively reaching out to new executives to schedule briefings on the role of community. Detzel also noted the importance of regularly reviewing customer onboarding content and templates to ensure community remains integrated.

Unique Positions of Community and Customer Success

While aligning community and CS strategies is crucial, Saunders made an interesting point about keeping the teams separate. Since customer success teams are often more tied to revenue goals, housing community under a completely different department or leader can provide more content freedom. Community leaders can then focus fully on non-monetized metrics like engagement, education, and retention. Still, maintaining strong cross-functional collaboration remains essential.

Customer-Centricity as the North Star

When uncertainty arises about the optimal path forward, Saunders and Detzel emphasized maintaining a strict customer-centric approach. Rather than get bogged down in internal politics, think critically about how decisions will impact the customer experience. Let customer needs and preferences provide the guiding light. Sometimes less is more - don't overwhelm customers with too many community options. Focus on quality over quantity.

At its core, community is about people - forging human connections and relationships. With that principle at the foundation, combined with data-driven decision making and executive alignment, community and customer success can form a powerful alliance to drive customer loyalty. Both Saunders and Detzel provide fantastic insights for leaders seeking to strengthen these critical bonds within their organizations.