Lessons from the 2023 CMX Summit: Shine

Larry Imgrund, Community Product Manager, Khoros

In case you missed it, CMX: Shine happened in San Francisco in October. There are a lot of exciting things happening in the community world and I was lucky enough to get a seat at the event and meet with passionate community leaders from across the industry, many of whom we work with directly at Khoros.

In this blog, I’ll walk through my learnings and takeaways from the event and areas to watch as we head into 2024.

Community culture, impact & influence in an organization

What makes a community successful? It’s a timeless question. While there are commonalities–high member engagement, support case deflection, and excellent CSAT/NPS scores–each community has its own unique answer. However, the most prevalent challenge communities share today is fostering a positive culture and influence that generates high value and impact across the organization. Every decision you make in a community needs to have a favorable effect on the customer or end-user, even when those decisions will only immediately impact internal teams supporting the community.

Creating a seamless experience for a brand’s employees and partners translates into a great customer experience. There are many touchpoints to get right; it is challenging but essential to have the right strategy, knowing what to prioritize and when to say “yes” and “no” given the situation. More importantly, a community thrives on organizational buy-in and support. I spoke on this topic with Monique van den Berg, Atlassian’s Head of Online Community. During our session, she explained that their executive teams actively support their community by attending their own conferences and meeting with members.

A common thread between these discussions is that communities need a dedicated team and intentional strategy to propel them forward. It’s like caring for a plant; you must be careful not to give it too much or too little water. All elements must strike the right balance to make growth possible.

To do this, community teams must focus on showcasing community impact and telling these meaningful stories throughout the organization. By highlighting how the organization needs to support the community–building relationships with leadership and aligning your community with your organization’s strategy–community leaders can elevate the value of their community within the business.

Integrated customer experience

Organizations committed to their communities' success prioritize their overall customer experience. The two go hand-in-hand. Once you understand that your community members will not stay siloed within one part of your digital ecosystem, you can recognize the importance of optimizing each touchpoint for them. For example, a member might get answers to support questions in one area and connect with other brand advocates in another. Being able to connect these spaces is critical. Integrations are core to your ability to create a centralized community that supports each facet of your customer experience in this way.

Khoros Communities allows integration with other platforms, such as Salesforce and Influitive. The robust toolset offered in our solution gets you started quickly in building your community and the flexibility to scale in alignment with your customer experience.

Measurement Infrastructure

As you further integrate other platforms and services within your community, you can build a better case for the community's impact on your organization. Reviewing your measurement infrastructure is critical, including how you pull your data together and visualize it for other teams. Using this data and telling the right story is essential to community management. In addition to having a community strategy, you must also have a metrics framework to support that strategy and prove the overall impact of your community on your organization.

Building a measurement infrastructure can seem daunting, but consider the user journey–how members enter and exit the community, where they are coming from, and where they go after they leave. By measuring these steps, you can gather insights on revenue or sales impact and lead conversion.

Review how your product team visits the community and collects customer feedback and ideas. Do they have a process to translate that feedback into valuable new features on the product roadmap? Success rate is also important–how are your members getting product support? Are they finding what they need in the community, and how often does that deter them from submitting a new support case, saving your company valuable time and resources?

One of the most crucial elements of community management is the story you tell about your community. Ensure you set yourself up for success by having the proper framework and data points to capture that needed information.

The most-talked-about community features

During the event, I had a lot of conversations about the common challenges in managing communities. It was interesting to hear the same topics come up again and again. Events were a big one, with many community professionals expressing the need for supporting events in their community, whether live streaming a video from an event or storing breakout session recordings in the community.

Our Events feature in Khoros Communities is one of the most popular content types we offer, supporting in-person, digital, and hybrid events. We have a lot of customers seeing success from this, such as PowerSchool, who has hosted hundreds of events with thousands of customers through their community.

Gamification was another highly discussed topic. Specifically, how flexible and easy-to-use gamification has become. Community pros highlighted the need for integrations with other platforms, allowing for granular, scoped requirements and custom data points for ranks and badges.

For example, let’s say you integrate with an LMS and need to grant a badge for a user completing a course in your LMS. You will need the ability to set this as a requirement for your badge. Without the integration and specific requirements, this won’t be possible. Gamification is a timeless topic, so it was great to hear how people are looking for ways to tie this back to the brand’s vision.

AI is on the uprise in 2023, and we’d be remiss if we didn’t include our thoughts on how we’re seeing it incorporated into communities. There were many conversations on this topic, both one-on-one and on the event stage, and while the future of AI is still coming into focus, there are clear benefits for self-service, search, and moderation use cases. With these capabilities, we can zoom in on a member’s journey in the community and help guide them towards achieving their goals, whether that’s to get an answer to a question or to help their peers by sharing their expertise.

Finally, one of the most discussed challenges many communities face is the ability to update community design and page elements easily. As resources become more scarce and budgets tighten, community managers need to do more with less. Therefore, making changes to your community shouldn’t be a heavy lift.

We focused on this pain point with the next generation of Khoros Communities. Updating pages, widget configurations, themes, and text is a day-to-day responsibility for all community teams, so doing so shouldn’t require months of working with IT. With our new Designer tools for updating pages and themes, you have easy access to make meaningful updates to your community quickly.

Lessons to feed 2024

The CMX Summit provided a lot of learnings and takeaways for me, and I’m excited about all the innovation I’m seeing across the industry. The new year presents an excellent opportunity for community managers to refocus on strategy and build a measurement infrastructure to support a story that will drive community impact and influence across the organization. 

It’s also a great time to consider the features within your community–like gamification, events, and AI–that will improve the experience for your members and brand. If you missed the event, check out our talk with Atlassian, Fostering Community Growth by Tapping Into Your People’s Expertise.

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