Numbered reacted to Matt for an entry, What are the benefits of a support community?
When your customers buy or use your products, they will have many questions. They may have issues using the product, or they may have requests for future versions based on their needs.
Managing and responding to those questions and requests quickly increases conversion, satisfaction and the likelihood or purchasing again.
The statistics back this up.
There is no doubt that unless you have a support community for your brand, you are not delivering the best experience for your customers and risk losing them to competitors that do.
Building a support community around your product or service will positively drive your business across all departments from product development through sales and into customer support.
Let's break it down and look at the key benefits for each department.
Encouraging your customers to visit your support community is the simplest way to reduce the cost of supporting your product or service. Creating a self-help culture allows other more experienced customers to offer assistance and troubleshoot any problems they have.
73% of customers fall in love with a brand because of friendly customer service representatives.**
Quite often, new customers encounter the same issues that would flood customer support if they were all channelled to your support desk. For example, consider a company that produces an internet-enabled smart device. Less technically savvy customers will likely contact support to troubleshoot initial connectivity issues which can quickly be resolved by peers in the support community.
These questions and answers form a crowdsourced knowledge base that will allow customers to help themselves without any intervention from your team. Furthermore, these questions will feature in external search results, driving more traffic to your site.
The primary purpose of your community may have initially been to help support your customers, but it quickly becomes a valuable resource to help drive sales.
Your support community will be a relaxed place where customers talk to each other honestly and openly. They will be less inhibited than they would if they were talking to your sales agents.
Customers might be discussing a need for more functionality that you have in another product or service. Your sales team can move these conversations from the community to your CRM to curate new sales leads.
72% of customers will tell 6 people or more if they have a satisfying experience. - Esteban Kolsky
Customers that have had positive interactions with their peers and members of your support team will become advocates for your brand. They will help sell your product over social media and among their friend circles. Given than 90% of customers are influenced by a positive review when buying a product*, having brand advocates is critical to your growth.
There are several costly routes to learning about your customers and their wants and needs. You can conduct external surveys, or pay for research groups to look at your products and offer feedback.
56% of customers don't mind sharing their personal information in exchange for better service.**
The most effective method is to look at your community.
Your customers will be posting their thoughts daily. They'll tell you exactly how they use your products, offering you valuable insight into the problems they are solving with your product. This information should be used as the basis of new marketing campaigns.
Your support community is a direct line to your customers. You no longer need to use external tools and services to determine which features you should add next. You'll be told directly!
55% of customers are willing to spend more money with a company that guarantees them a satisfying experience.**
You'll find that some feature requests bubble up regularly. These are the ones you will want to move to your product roadmap.
Invision Community allows you to segment your community into private areas for beta testing. Your developers can interact with this group to work directly with your customers to shape new functionality.
Harnessing analytical data will inform development decisions. Invision Community can track keywords in user-generated content. If you have released a new feature, you can track how often it is mentioned in conversations to monitor its uptake.
52% of customers believe that companies need to take action on their feedback.*
Setting up your Invision Community
Now we've looked at the compelling reasons you should create a support community around your products, let's take a look at how to set up your Invision Community.
Invision Community has a fully-featured built in support desk functionality. Commerce has all the features you need, including multiple support desk categories, reply by email, pre-written reply templates and private notes.
However, if you already use another support desk such as Zendesk then our API tools mean that Invision Community can integrate with your existing support flow seamlessly.
Invision Community allows you to track how often specific words or phrases. This is useful to monitor which of your products are trending or monitoring uptake on new features.
To set this up, visit the Statistics section of the Admin CP.
Question and Answers
To formalize a support or ideation area within your support community, Invision Community offers a Question and Answer forum type.
Question and Answer forum types allow your members to post questions and enable other members to upvote the questions and replies. Your support team can also flag specific responses as the "best answer" which turns historical questions into a crowdsourced knowledge base.
Showcasing Great Content
Invision Community has several tools to highlight great customer-created content. You can pin topics, and feature specific replies within those topics.
You can also convert posts into new articles within a formal knowledge base or blog to further help your customers find the right answers to their questions.
Invision Community has OAuth and a REST API out of the box. This means it's trivial to extend Invision Community to work within your existing flows. Integrate Invision Community to your SalesForce CRM and Zendesk support systems seamlessly.
Create a federated search to integrate your external knowledge base with client-generated knowledge.
The options are limitless, and we can take care of any custom integrations for you.
If you have any questions, please let me know below, or contact us to see how we can help you harness the power of community for your business.
Numbered reacted to bfarber for an entry, 4.4: Application manifest and icon management
Who remembers the earlier days of the internet? Back when you popped your logo at the top left of your site and you were largely done?
Invision Community has continually developed to account for all the new services that have been built during our 16 years.
We now have social media sharing images, favicons and more to consider.
Invision Community 4.4 also adds mobile application icons, Safari mask icons and data for an application manifest. Handling of these logos and icons was a prime candidate for improvement in 4.4.
Moving our current options
Step one for improving our handling of these images was to move our current options out of themes and to allow them to be managed suite-wide from a single area. You can still upload a logo image per-theme (which shows in the header area), but the rest of the options have now been relocated to a new area: Customization > Appearance > Icons & Logos.
Adding new options
After giving favicon and share logo management its own dedicated area, we took a look at enhancing the configuration options made available through the interface without requiring theme template edits.
Multiple share logos
You can now upload multiple share logos. If you elect to upload more than one share logo, Facebook and similar sites will generally either show a carousel to allow you to choose which logo to use when sharing, or simply use the first image referenced.
You can now upload an image to represent your website which will be used to generate the "home screen" icons for iPhones and Androids automatically. Uploading a single image will result in several different copies of the image (in different dimensions) being generated, and mobile devices will automatically choose the best option from the list as needed.
Safari mask icon
You can also now upload a Safari Mask icon, which is used to represent your website in certain areas on Apple computers (such as on the "touchbar" of certain keyboards). This image must be an SVG image with a transparent background, and all vectors must be 100% black.
Additionally, you can specify the mask color which is used to offset your image when necessary (e.g. to represent it as "selected" or "active").
In order for devices to support the application icons that you upload, a file known as a web manifest must be generated and delivered to the browser. This now happens automatically, using details and icons specified in the AdminCP. Certain details, however, can be configured explicitly from the Icons & Logos page:
This is a short name to represent your site in areas with limited screen space, such as below your application icon on a mobile phone home screen. Site name
This is the name of the site. The "Website name" setting is automatically used if you do not explicitly override it when configuring the manifest. Description
A short description of your site Theme color
You can choose a (single) color to represent the general theme of the site. This color may be used by devices in areas such as the address bar background. Background color
You can also choose a (single) color to use as the background color for your site when the application is launched from a shortcut saved to the user's device home screen. Display mode
Finally, you can specify the display mode your site should launch in. For our more astute designers and developers, you may have already realized that generating the manifest file lays the groundwork for future PWA (Progressive Web App) development and support. Additionally, some Android devices will automatically prompt users to add your website to their home screen now that a manifest file is generated by the site.
Oh, and for the sake of completeness, we also generate the special browserconfig.xml file that Microsoft products (including Microsoft Edge, Internet Explorer, X-Box, and Microsoft-based mobile devices) look for when pinning sites and generating live tiles. There are no additional configuration options for this file - everything is automatically generated from the aforementioned options.
The end result?
Your community can now better convey, automatically, certain details to the myriad of devices out there that may be accessing your site, and you now have much better control over those details. You can more easily fine-tune the "little things" that help paint a complete picture of your web presence, and the groundwork has been laid for bigger and better things in the future as standardization and adoption of PWA functionality improves.
This blog is part of our series introducing new features for Invision Community 4.4.
Numbered reacted to Matt for an entry, Happy 16th Birthday To Us!
This month, we turn sweet sixteen!
We made our own card this year.
I know, it's hard to believe with our youthful looks and energetic personalities, but it's true. Charles and I have known each other longer than I've known my own children and we still make each other laugh on a daily basis.
Over the past 16 years we've seen a lot of trends come and go.
When we started, AOL dial-up was the preferred method of choice (and probably the only method of choice). Compuserve were flying high and I think I'll stop this walk down memory lane before I turn into my own grandfather and start talking about how things were better in my day.
A lot has changed. We've seen the rise of social media and how it disrupted habits. We've seen MP3 players become iPods, and iPods become iPhones and iPhones become iPads (other digital devices are also available).
It's crazy to think that our company pre-dates Facebook, Twitter and Youtube.
Click on this image to see it unless you have excellent eyesight
We're still here because we are always innovating and adapting. The software we're working on right now is vastly different from the one we started out with. And that is how it should be. We listen to our customers and we implement the great ideas.
Of course, we'd not have lasted a year without our customers. We're genuinely thrilled to still be doing a job we love and serving customers who have trusted their community with us.
Thank you all for choosing us and we're looking forward to the next 16 years.
Numbered reacted to bfarber for an entry, 4.3: REST API Enhancements
"No man is an island" wrote John Donne. He wrote that a good 200 years before computers were invented, but it rings true for any well written framework like Invision Community.
The included REST API allows developers to fetch data from Invision Community and also allows data to be added.
This data can be used to power widgets on your website, or to be used within other applications you are already using in a very simple way.
Several enhancements have been made to the REST API for Invision Community 4.3 that we wanted to let you know about.
These changes are developer-oriented, so if you do not use the REST API with your community please feel free to skip this update.
If you would like to learn more about the REST API available with Invision Community, please see our REST documentation.
As previously noted, you can now perform searches through the REST API. You can perform searches based on keywords, tags, or both, and you can limit and filter results with parameters similar to when you perform a regular search on the site (e.g. to specific containers, returning only results over a set number of comments, or searching within clubs).
Several REST API endpoints are now permission-aware when combined with Oauth functionality built into Invision Community 4.3. This means that many REST API endpoints can be called using a specific user's access token, and only results that the specific user would normally be able to see will be returned (and/or they will only be able to submit to areas they normally have permission to).
Ability to search members
While an endpoint has always been available to retrieve (and add/edit/delete) members, the ability to search for members has now been implemented. You can search by name, email address, and (one or more) group(s), and a paginated response will be returned.
You can now start a new private conversation, reply to an existing private conversation, and delete a private conversation through the REST API.
Other REST API changes
You can now specify member's secondary groups when adding or updating a member through the REST API. You can specify the member's registration IP address through the REST API when adding or updating a member. You can now specify other member properties not directly exposed through the REST API when adding or updating a member by setting the rawProperties input field. You can now specify other member properties to retrieve through the REST API through the otherFields request parameter. The REST API now better logs changes to member accounts (so you will be able to more easily identify how a user's name, email address, password, etc. has changed when looking at the member history). You can now retrieve all content a member is following through the REST API, as well as follow a new container/content item, and delete an existing follow. You can now validate an account through the REST API You can now specify a 'perPage' parameter for paginated responses to control how many items are returned per page.
Most of these changes were directly culled from client feedback and implemented per specific requests. If there are other REST API changes you would like to see implemented please don't hesitate to leave your feedback!
Numbered reacted to Mark for an entry, 4.3: AdminCP Member Profiles
Viewing and editing a member is probably one of the most frequently used features of the AdminCP. With the design unchanged for many years, and the tabbed interface starting to grow unwieldy, it was due for some love. We have not only dramatically improved the design but added many new features.
New AdminCP Member Page
Let's look at some of the improvements:
Easy Toggle between Member and Customer View
If you have Commerce installed, you can now toggle between "Member View" (which shows the screen above) and "Customer View" (which shows the current customer page in Commerce with the user's purchases, invoices, etc.). This makes it much easier to view all of a member's information in one place.
If you don't have Commerce installed, the top tab bar will not show.
The pane in the top-left shows the member's basic information like name, email address and photos. You can now reposition a member's cover photo and crop the profile photo (functions previously not available in the AdminCP). To change the display name or email address, you just click and hold on the information and a textbox appears. The buttons below allow you to merge, delete, sign in as, and edit the preferences or password for the member.
Basic Member Information Pane
In addition, this pane lists any social networks the user is logged in with. It shows you the member's profile photo and profile name on that network (for example in this screenshot, it is showing my Facebook profile's photo and name) and for many networks you can click on this to be taken directly to their Facebook/Twitter/etc profile. You can also edit the syncing options for the method and unlink the accounts, features which weren't available previously.
If you have Commerce installed, there is also an indicator if the user has an active subscription.
A member with an active subscription
If a member is validating, banned, flagged as a spammer, or locked, a large banner will display drawing your attention to this. For validating and banned, it will explain exactly what the status is (for example, if they haven't responded to the validation email yet versus they are awaiting admin approval, or if they have been banned manually versus are in a group without permission to access anything).
A member that has been locked
Other possible alerts
Locations & Devices
This pane shows you, on a map, all of the locations the user has been when using the community (based on their IP address) as well as the IP address they used to register and most recently.
IP Address Locations
While the devices tab shows the most recently used devices.
Recently Used Devices
Right in the middle of the profile you can see some statistics about the member's activity. This includes:
A sparkline graph of their recent content. Their content count and reputation count (with tools to manually change or rebuild). A breakdown of the amount of content they have made across all applications. A visual indication of how much of their messenger and attachment storage they have used. If Gallery and Downloads are installed, the existing statistics overview provided by these apps are also available here.
Warnings & Restrictions
This block shows recent warnings on the account, and also highlights if any restrictions (i.e. content moderation, restricted from posting, or application-level restrictions) are being applied, which previously was difficult to see at a glance.
Warnings & Restrictions Block for an account which has content moderation in effect
On the right is a pane which shows all of the latest account activity. While this was available in previous versions (called "Member History") we have made some significant improvements:
Recent Account Activity
The new profile has been designed with extensibility in mind. Third party developers can easily add new blocks our even entire new tabs. Any apps/plugins which are currently adding a tab to the "Edit Member" form will retain backwards compatibility with their tab continuing to appear when clicking the "Edit Preferences" button in the basic account information pane.
Numbered reacted to Mark for an entry, 4.3: Videos
Videos are everywhere. We shoot them on our smart phones, share them to social media, messengers and more.
Up until now, the only way to share a video to Invision Community was to use a service like YouTube or Vimeo. If you uploaded a video file it would be treated like an attachment, and if the user clicked the link it would download it to their computer.
In Invision Community 4.3 we've improved this. Now if you upload a video file (mp4/3gp/mov/ogg/ogv/mpg/mpeg/flv/webm/wmv/avi/m4v), it will embed similarly to an image.
Uploading a video
When viewing an uploaded video, if it is in a format that the user's browser and platform natively supports, it will show an embedded player. This will have all of the features supported by the operating system - for example, almost all browsers support fullscreen, and Safari supports Airplay and picture in picture.
An uploaded video
If the video is in a format not supported, it displays exactly as it does now - as a download link.
An uploaded video in a browser without playback support for that format
Numbered reacted to Matt for an entry, Black Friday Sale!
It's that time of year again!
Have you been thinking about starting your Invision Community? Or perhaps you're currently using another service and want to take advantage of our modern, mobile ready and social media equipped platform?
This has been a great year for Invision Community. We've added many new features including Clubs, Fluid View, Profile Completion and more.
We've been adding useful articles such as the benefits of owning your own community versus a Facebook Group, how to optimize your community's SEO, and how to stop spam.
And we're already working on our next major release due out early 2018.
To celebrate, we have two new coupon codes for you!
20% OFF ALL CLOUD PACKAGES
Start with Invision Community today with our hassle free cloud packages. There's nothing to upload and nothing to install. You don't need to know your FTP from your MySQL. We do all that for you!
Use coupon code during checkout: CICBF2017
15% OFF SELF HOSTED LICENSES
Prefer to manage your own hosting? No problem. Grab your downloadable license today.
Use coupon code during checkout: SHBF2017
The small print
These coupons are valid from today right through to midnight Monday 27th November (EST). Note, the self hosted coupon is not valid for renewals.
Thanks and happy shopping!
Numbered reacted to Matt for an entry, Build a fortress: stop spam in your community
We all know what a pain spam can be. We deal with it daily in our inboxes often relying on clever software to filter it out for us. Even worse, some spam is so well disguised that it can fool you into thinking it is a genuine message.
You've put in the hard work with your community. You've used the built in social promotion tools and SEO features to get it noticed. Now that it's indexing well with Google, you've become a target.
Invision Community has several tools in its arsenal to deal with spam leaving you free to concentrate on your members and content. We'll take a look at these tools in more detail.
First, it's important to know that there are two main types of spam. Computer generated and human generated.
Computer generated spam is malicious software that throws millions of messages out and hopes some sticks to high profile communities.
Human generated spam is more pernicious as it can often bypass automated measures. Human spammers often register accounts and post as members on your community.
The first line of defense
Invision Community comes equipped with Spam Defense. This is free with all cloud and licensed plans. Spam Defense harnesses the combined knowledge of thousands of Invision Communities. It will assess the potential threat of each new user and stop them before they can cause any problems.
To date, Spam Defense has blocked over 3,000,000 spam accounts.
Spam Defense works by evaluating the registering member against its database. It will score the account from 1 (not a spammer) to 4 (a known spammer) allowing you to decide what to do with each level.
If a spammer gets past the Spam Defense, flag them as a spammer using the built in tools. This will clear up all their posts in a single action and report back to Spam Defense that this account has spammed your site. These community led reports allow Spam Defense to learn and adapt.
Preventing spammers from registering
The CAPTCHA ("Completely Automated Public Turing test to tell Computers and Humans Apart") is a well tested and robust method to defeat computerised spammers. It is usually a small widget on a sign up form that asks you to re-enter words shown in an image.
Invision Community supports Recaptcha2 by Google, meaning that in most cases your users don't even have to type in random letters. Instead, Google algorithms determine if the user is human or otherwise. Invision Community supports KeyCaptcha. This requires guests to solve a simple problem before they can contribute.
The Question and Answer challenge works on its own or in conjunction with a CAPTCHA. This system allows you to create simple question and answer challenges unique to your community. As these answers are unique, computerized spammers cannot solve them. Also, human spammers not knowledable with your niche are often unable to solve them too.
While the above are great for reducing the number of computerized spammers, we need to be especially clever to weed out human spammers.
Dealing with human spammers
Smart configuration of your community will also help in defeating spammers. Invision Community supports posting without registering. This feature allows for fast engagement but use it with caution. It works best if you only allow it for specific forums.
Invision Community's membership promotion system also has tools which you can leverage.
To make your site less appealing to human spammers, you can configure two membership groups. Let us look at an example which uses "New Members" and "Members".
"New Members" is the default group for new registrations. In this group you can remove the ability to add a signature to each post. Often spammers use signatures to earn referrals on links.
You can also define a limit for posts per day. This will throttle the number of spam posts a member can make.
Now that you have your "New Members" group set up to build trust, you can promote them using Group Promotions.
A good strategy is to promote them to "Members" when they have reached a certain level of reputation. This shows that they have become a trusted member of the community.
You may wish to promote them a week after joining knowing that spammers usually leave after a day or so.
There are many different criteria you can use allowing you to tailor it for your own needs.
Dealing with spam is a reality for every successful community. Invision Community has several features to mitigate its impact.
Through leveraging its built in tools to smart configuration, you can make your community a fortress against spam. In addition, our exclusive Spam Defense system grows and learns every day stopping spammers from registering.
To learn how to configure Invision Community's spam prevention tools, please see our help guide.
Not using Invision Community? We can convert you from other platforms preserving your data. Our migration page has more information on the platforms we can convert you from.
Numbered reacted to Charles for an entry, Invision Community 4.3 Coming Soon
Our recent release of Invision Community 4.2 was the most well-received version ever! The feedback we received on new features like Clubs, Reactions, and Promotes was better than we could have hoped and we really enjoyed seeing all the creative uses as people implemented them on their own communities.
We have been hard at work on version 4.3 with a goal of improving on all the great new features. It is well under way and we are happy to able to start announcing what's new over the next few weeks.
Invision Community 4.3 will not only contain new features but also have a core focus on refinement from 4.2's new features. You will see many improvements to Clubs, new integration options, large application improvements, new promotional features, and more changes large and small.
You can expect to see news posts about new features and changes very soon with a release date in early 2018. Follow our news section or subscribe to our newsletter to receive updates.
Numbered reacted to Charles for an entry, New: Content Message
This entry is about our IPS Community Suite 4.2 release.
Following on from our previous entry about the new Recommended Replies feature, we also have one more small feature change that will be very useful.
Content Message is a small feature available in all IPS Community Suite content areas (forums, blogs, gallery, etc.) and allows a moderator to put a message at the top of any item.
Topic with a moderator message
This is useful if you have a special use for the area people are posting in, need to encourage conversation to stay on topic, or perhaps the conversation is becoming heated and you need to remind people to behave.
Sometimes the smallest features can prove the most useful and already I have found myself reaching for this feature out of habit from using it on our test 4.2 installs and missing it on our production site. I cannot wait to have it available and I am sure you will enjoy the ability to add custom notes to any area of the Suite.
For our power users: this feature and the Recommended Replies feature use a new content meta data capability. This allows you to store miscellaneous data that is attached to a content item which does not need to be otherwise searched or exposed unless you are viewing that item. We will provide technical details on this later but it is a really easy way to store data about content without having to create additional tables or methods.
Numbered reacted to Charles for an entry, New: Word and Link Filters
We are changing the existing Profanity Filters feature to become the new Word Filters feature. This change will allow you to define words that will initiate a moderator review before content is posted. With creative use of this new feature you can actually have the Suite self-moderate certain posts.
Right now the Profanity Filters are pretty basic. If you enter "stopword" you can have it change to *****. That's fine for basic profanity but sometimes you want to do other actions with a word. Perhaps someone might mention a competitor, you see common spam words, or you run a site targeted to children and want fine control over what is posted. There are a lot of reasons a simple replace word with *** might not be what you want.
Word Filters introduce an option to let you say "stopword" places a post in moderation queue.
So now you can define a list of words that are not necessarily profanity but are words you want to review if they are posted.
We have also extended this logic to the URL Filters which are now just called Links in the AdminCP configuration. You can now disallow all links and have a post go to approval if someone does post a link. This is also useful for sites where you need really tight control on content either for security or privacy reasons.
With the new Links feature you can also set allow/disallow list of allows links and if someone posts a link outside those lists (depending on your mode) the post will go into review.
We hope these features allow you to introduce a bit of automatic moderation to your community and you can come up with creative ways to capture posts that need review either for security, privacy, or just keeping things in order.
This change will be in version 4.1.17 which is scheduled to be released in early December 2016.
Numbered reacted to Rikki for an entry, Introducing our new Developers area
I'm pleased to announce we're finally ready to open our new Developers area. The aim of this project has been to improve our existing developer documentation by building a central place to contain it, as well as update and expand the content available.
As of today, we have the regular documentation and REST API documentation ready to use. Over the coming weeks and months, we'll be expanding what's available further, going into more detail about the tools available within the framework. We've also started work on comprehensive Getting Started guides, that will walk you through simple developer projects from start to finish - these will be available soon, once they're complete.
If there's a particular aspect of IPS4 development that you don't feel is adequately catered for right now, please let us know! This will help us direct our efforts to the most useful places.