How many times a day do you search (or “Google”) how to do something with a product, the best ways to perform “X,” or for help with a problem? Chances are it’s a lot, and when you do, you likely land on a forum where your peers have posted answers ten times over. This is the beauty of online communities. And I get to see it every day.
As community manager for three of the SAS Support Communities – Data Mining, Data Management and SAS Visual Analytics – I see lively exchanges between SAS customers and employees by the hour. I flag customer quotes that give me warm fuzzies like:
“Excellent article and discussion; I'll certainly be sending it along to many of my colleagues.”
“Thanks for all the resources! Looks like I’ve got plenty of reading ahead of me.”
“I always learn something new when I post in this forum. Just what I needed.”
“I’m so new to this field. Your answer is so helpful.”
“I like the responsiveness and expertise of this forum.”
It’s also fun to see customers really get into answering questions. One customer said after another user posted the “correct” answer:
“… You beat me right to it! ... I actually came to the exact solution, a little late though …”
Aside from seeing this action, routing some questions to SAS experts and feeling like I’m part of the SAS customer conversation, I search for and post information that users may be interested during their stay on the community. I like to surface ways to use SAS that customers don’t know already. So not only do they get a solution to their “question of the day,” but they learn something new. And meet a SAS friend at the same time.
From tips and product features to opportunities for customers to get involved and voice their experience, I publish a steady beat of content updates to keep the communities fresh and relevant. For example, the SAS Visual Analytics community promotes the Ask the Expert: SAS Visual Analytics live weekly Q&A sessions, a product “Starter Kit” in the right column, and one of my favorites from the summer: a series of World Cup visualizations that spawned lots of discussion.
Other popular items include Tips of the Week on the Data Mining Community and a quick guide for choosing the right technology for data integration on the Data Management Community.
I’m energized each day by participating and helping facilitate these few segments of the SAS customer online circle. Each Q&A and exchange lets me get to know customers on a different level, helps me understand their day-to-day pains and successes. That allows me to be a better communicator, a better SAS employee, and a better partner in achieving something together.