Unleash the Power of Community: How a Team of One Created a Self-Sustaining Online Community Image

Unleash the Power of Community: How a Team of One Created a Self-Sustaining Online Community

Across industries, executives tend to focus on one thing: scaling. They want to know how they can do more without spending more. Particularly when the focus is on community and building customer knowledge, scaling can be tricky. There are always more questions coming in than there are hours available to answer them. 

The only way to truly scale community is to make it self-sustaining, the way Danny Pancratz, Director of Customer Experience Programs at Unqork did. Pancratz evolved a Q-and-A help center into a world-class, self-sustaining online community by focusing on what matters most to, you guessed it, his community! 

Using Gainsight CC, Pancratz and Unqork, were able to achieve an 85% answer rate on their community page. Compare that to benchmark reports that give an average of 45-60% answer rate and you start to see the tremendous accomplishment it is. But what really puts Unqork above the rest is that 91% of those answers came from non-staff members. 

Through changes in how community members were recognized for their contributions and the help of automation, Pancratz, a team of one, built a remarkable online community that continued to thrive, even while he was on maternity leave, technically giving Unqork a team of zero. 

Luckily, he laid out his process in presentation Unleash the Power of Community: Achieving a Self-Sustaining Community with Unqork. But if you missed it, we have all the takeaways for you now. 

Accelerate Contributions with Rewards that Matter to Your Online Community 

The single biggest obstacle for building a self-sustaining community is that people with questions will always have more motivation to visit the community page than the people with answers. How do you motivate the people with the answers to help out their community? For Pancratz, the answer was to move away from gamification and focus on recognition. 

He did it in three steps: 

  1. Create a subject matter expert program that rewards people for helping the community in tangible ways they care about. Go beyond swag or points. Instead, offer certifications or badges, new profile statuses, and public recognition as they continue to engage with your community. 
  2. Offer evolving badges that recognize people who stay involved over time. Pancratz saw that he could manage the volume of unanswered questions if community members could earn recognition for continued engagement. Now, they weren’t just subject matter experts, they were experts 4 years in a row, which matters to their bosses or future employers. 
  3. Recognize members beyond the community platform. Pancratz found that when he made public recognition posts on LinkedIn or reached out to community members’ bosses, they tended to stay engaged. His outreach helped customers make the case for their own promotion or get hired at a new company. Those tangible rewards in their own career were enough to keep them motivated to get involved and stay involved. 

Use Tools that Can Be Customized for Your Specific Needs

Community-sourced answers to questions is only part of the solution for creating a self-sustaining community. The other part is how to efficiently moderate the posts. The answer to that problem comes in two steps: 

  1. Extend the functionality of the platform you’re using. While Gainsight CC can do a lot, each company’s use cases will be unique. Pancratz suggests leveraging the API to get the platform to do what you need. For Unqork’s team, that meant automating how they managed unanswered questions, how they offered bonus points to users, and more. 
  2. Automate day-to-day tasks. Often, Pancratz found himself repeating tasks over and over again—the exact opposite of scalable behavior. To help free up his time and focus on more complicated tasks, he automated those repetitive tasks. Today, he has about 90,000 of those tasks automated. 

Keep Your Team Focused On What Matters Most

With all these automations, some might argue the personal quality of a community gets lost. To that, Pancratz says that nothing about typing out the same nudge over and over again felt personal. This way, he has time to make the LinkedIn shout outs or talk to managers and community members one-on-one. He can focus on the actions that keep his community thriving. 

Learn More

Learn more about how Gainsight helps companies build and scale their online communities. Read How HoneyBook Scaled an Online Community from Scratch with Gainsight