How Sonos Used Gainsight Customer Communities to Fine-Tune Their Online Community and Build a Resonant Customer Experience
Powered by Gainsight tools, the Sonos community provides an all-in-one destination for self-service and user engagement, delivering a superior customer experience.
first reply rate
of questions resolved in 48 hours
If there is a bug in the product, we can be nearly guaranteed that one of our users will find it quickly and then we can fix it […] That’s probably our biggest achievement as a community.
Ditte Solsø Korsgård
Community Program Manager at Sonos
Sonos is the world’s leading sound experience company, delivering an unparalleled experience through
thoughtful design, simplicity of use, and an open platform. A strong community has long been a pillar of their commitment to customer experience, but as their user base grew, managing the volume of content became a challenge. Using Gainsight Customer Communities, Sonos boosted engagement with personalized, dynamic content and then created a feedback loop with users to drive product decisions.
For Ditte Solsø Korsgård, Community Program Manager at Sonos, a good online community is like a good bar: a place to sit down with friends and have a conversation, facilitated by bartenders who keep the tables clean and drinks flowing. “At Sonos, our moderators are the bartenders, the community members are the patrons, and our super users are the regulars,” she explains. In this model, community members have productive, helpful conversations with each other about Sonos products, with moderators remaining in the background until they are needed.
This philosophy has served Sonos well over the past 18 years, as they have built a community that now includes more than 500,000 users, with more than 1,400 open topics and 9,000 posts in a typical month. But managing a community that size requires a lot of work for the Sonos Community team.
“Building and maintaining a community absolutely requires a heavy lift,” says Korsgård. “But I also believe that if you prioritize correctly you can have a big impact—not for you as a company, but for your end users in terms of improving the customer experience. You can do a lot with very few resources if you have the right tools.”
To manage this dynamic community without needing a small army of moderators and other team members, Sonos turned to Gainsight Customer Communities to increase their efficiency.
To build a personalized customer experience with Gainsight Customer Communities, Sonos focused on boosting engagement and collaboration with the right content, and then creating a strong, customer-centric feedback loop that informed product and business decisions.
Using tools like Gainsight’s no-code page builder, Sonos created a pipeline of rich content around new releases, feature updates, and other announcements. This content varies based on the user, ranging from technical documentation to marketing and press releases.
“We inherit a lot of content from our CRM, marketing, and social media teams around releases, etc, We pick and patch what we believe is best for our community. Our Content Manager doesn’t write a lot from scratch, but he is coordinating a lot of pieces.” – Ditte Solsø Korsgård, Community Program Manager at Sonos
Quality content, in turn, sparked deeper engagement from users, which transformed their community into a channel for general customer feedback. The Community team can then report back to other parts of the business with highlights, lowlights, questions, concerns, hype, and data. This feedback loop means that Sonos is making customer-backed product decisions. Gainsight enables them to collect, validate, and aggregate feedback all in one central location.
Super users are a crucial part of their feedback model. These users aren’t “super” simply because they post a lot. “They believe in you and your product,” Korsgård says. “They dedicate so much of their own time to teaching other users how to use your product.” Sonos nurtures these super users, but doesn’t tell them what to do or make them feel like employees.
As a result of their feedback, the community has become the natural early warning system for Sonos.
If there is a bug in the product, we can be nearly guaranteed that one of our users will find it quickly and then we can fix it, That’s probably our biggest achievement as a community.
Ditte Solsø Korsgård
Community Program Manager at Sonos
Their hard-working moderators read every community post and quickly spot issues with the product based on user comments. They then use Slack to have conversations with engineers or other stakeholders to address the issue.
Sonos has devised three baseline metrics that measure the impact of community on both customers and the company. These metrics are easy to measure, easy to use, and perhaps most importantly, within the control of the Community team. Sonos tracks the metrics through the Customer Communities Analytics Dashboard.
Sonos Community Metrics: three promises to their end users and the company
Speed of reply to a new topic. When a user starts a topic, Sonos promises they will receive a reply and quickly. More than 99% of all content on the platform now has a first reply, and in general the community sees an average response time under 7 hours. “You can’t complain about not having engagement when you’re not going into the community and actually engaging. We are of the firm belief that if people ask, we should answer,” says Korsgård. Sonos uses Gainsight Customer Communities to categorize each topic as a conversation or a question.
Speed of answer to a question. Sonos successfully answers 50% of questions within 48 hours of posting, and when the time frame is extended to three weeks, that rate is nearly 100%. Once a question is correctly answered,
it is marked as a “best answer” so that other users can find it easily.
Proportion of peer-generated content. Answers to questions should ideally come from another user, not a Sonos employee. Of all the posts on the Sonos community, more than 95% are written by peers. And more than 85% of answers are created by peers.
Thanks in part to tools from Gainsight Customer Communities, Sonos has gotten its arms around the challenge of delivering an amazing customer experience to their huge (and growing) customer base. Because of Gainsight efficiencies, Sonos moderators can operate as laid back bartenders, rather than as intrusive micromanagers. “Nothing kills a community more than an overactive moderator,” Korsgård says. With Gainsight on board, Sonos has found a balance that keeps their community in tune.