Zendesk is a customer service and sales platform that your business can use to make things easy for your customers and set your teams up for success.
This video features a round table discussion with experts talking about the Zendesk Community, where Zendesk users from around the world can get advice and share their knowledge.
By the end of the video, you will learn:
- What is the Zendesk Community?
- Who uses the Zendesk Community and why?
- What topics are discussed in the Zendesk Community?
- What does the future look like for the Zendesk Community?
- What value does the Zendesk Community provide?
- What is a Zendesk Community Moderator?
- What’s it like to be involved in the Zendesk Community?
- How can customers apply the Zendesk Community to their instances?
- What are Zendesk Community User Groups?
- How can people learn more about the Zendesk Community & User Groups?
- What else should people know about Zendesk and the Community?
James: Zendesk is a customer service and sales platform that your business can use to make things easy for your customers and set your teams up for success. Today we’re having a round table discussion to talk about the Zendesk Community, where Zendesk users from around the world can get advice and share their knowledge.
I’m James, Studios Director at 729 Solutions, and joining me are Nicole Saunders, Zendesk Community Director, Brett Bowser, Zendesk Community Engagement Manager, and last but not least is Brandon Tidd, Senior Solutions Architect at 729 Solutions. Thank you all for joining me.
Nicole: Thanks so much for having us.
What is the Zendesk Community?
James: Nicole, let’s start things off with you. What is the Zendesk Community?
Nicole: The Zendesk Community is an ecosystem of online gathering spaces and programs that we use to help our customers connect with one another, to learn from each other, to share knowledge and experiences and best practices, and just to make connections in their professional network with other Zendesk users.
And I love that you started with this question because I think every company defines what “community” is to them a little bit differently, right? Some people mean a specific gathering space, like a forum, some mean the actual physical community that they live in. Some are really talking specifically about group meetups and that kind of thing.
And for us, it’s that whole ecosystem that is centralized around our online community space.
Who uses the Zendesk Community and why?
James: Can you talk a little bit about who uses the community, and why they might be actually joining up to meet up with other users around the world?
Nicole: So the target audience for our community programs and content and offerings are existing Zendesk customers.
Primarily people that are gonna be hands on with the technology day-to-day. So that can be anywhere from a Zendesk Administrator to a Support Manager, to a Developer. We have a lot of people in the community space that have built their careers building on Zendesk or partners like yourselves, like 729 Solutions.
Really what it is, is it’s there for anybody who is really wanting to learn about Zendesk, and sometimes this means people that are making the decision to become a Zendesk customer and they wanna to validate that decision with other people. People that are new to the ecosystem and they’re trying to learn the basics all the way up to really advanced users who are maybe talking about how to build out customizations, how to develop apps, how to think about their workflows.
Even understanding things like what are trends in the industry and things that they need to be thinking about on a longer term roadmap.
What topics are discussed in the Zendesk Community?
James: Brett, can you talk a little bit about what topics are covered in the Zendesk Community?
Brett: Yeah, absolutely. So we have a great number of topics. Our most popular topic is around our general product questions.
So for any of our products that we have, like Support, Explore, Talk, that sort of thing. Customers are more than welcome to go and ask their questions in that space in our community, and hear back from either other Zendesk employees, or even other customers that might be able to provide solutions as well.
We also have our product feedback topics for our customers to share feedback that they–or improvements–that they’d like to see within our Zendesk products. And they will occasionally hear back from our product managers. Our product managers will follow up with them there, and even ask some clarifying questions or proactively get some feedback from our customers in that space.
And then the third piece is our developer topics. We have a number of developer topics for our developer members. To go and engage with each other and connect with our developer support team.
What does the future look like for the Zendesk Community?
Nicole: And that really covers like what the community is today. And then when we think about where it’s going, you know, it’s always a work in progress.
And over the course of this year, we’ve got a lot of exciting strategies around new ways we wanna engage with our customers and content we wanna produce to really help start to make the community more of like a Center of Excellence for customers where they can learn about, like I said, best practices, industry news.
Not just how to use the products, but really how to be thinking about how to run a great support experience and how to provide excellent customer experiences.
James: Yeah, and learn from people who are actually boots on the ground as well.
Nicole: Yeah, 100%. You know, I always say that even the best trained support agent may or may not be able to tell you exactly…
You know, they may not have done the thing themselves. They might know how to use our tools. They might be able to give you a lot of advice and recommendations and great information. But the deep value of the community is when people can hear from someone else who’s been there and done that and can really speak exactly to that experience.
Especially when you have a really nuanced use case like, “Oh, I’m using this ticketing system for my retail organization, and I’m trying to figure out how to do this very specific thing about my industry”. You’re not looking for a recommendation in general. You’re looking for somebody who’s actually done that thing and can tell you step by step what they did.
That’s why it’s so valuable for users to connect directly with one another. There’s so much expertise and knowledge in our customer base and we’re just excited to help everybody share it and get in touch with it.
What value does the Zendesk Community provide?
James: Yeah, it’s interesting because it does seem like there are a lot of unique use cases, especially with the… the customers that we help out with their Zendesk implementations.
And Brandon, maybe you can elaborate a little bit more on this, but almost every project that we encounter with our Zendesk partnership is unique.
Brandon: Yeah. No two Zendesk instances are built the same. With over 170,000 customers, there’s 170,000 different ways to use the platform, which makes the community so fascinating to me. From the outside looking in as a community moderator, I see the different use cases, and I spend some time trolling the boards and look through all the requests and questions that come up. I’m like, “Ah, I’ve never thought to use Zendesk that way. That’s a really unique use case.”
So, and the other thing I’d like to share is that it’s not just lip service in terms of the feedback. I’ve actually been able to follow pieces of advice that… or requests that have started as feedback on the community forum that have now worked their way into the general release of the product.
They are actually listening to their customers on these community boards.
What is a Zendesk Community Moderator?
James: So Brandon, you mentioned, you know, community moderation or being a community moderator, and Brett, maybe this is a better question for you, but can you talk a little bit about what is a Community Moderator?
Brett: Absolutely. So the Community Moderator has been around since I would say 2013-ish. And so it’s a group of awesome, amazing Zendesk experts. You know, our customers who go above and beyond by helping each other out in the community space. Some of them are certified, some of them are… specifically work in the developer area, helping each other set up or create guide customizations.
And so yeah, they volunteer their time to help each other out in the community for certain perks that they might receive from the Zendesk team, such as, you know, like monthly PM calls with our product managers to connect with each other, and share feedback in a live Zoom form… call. They get a nice little community moderator badge to kind of show their status in the community forum. We send them some pretty awesome swag. I think Brandon can vouch for that one. And then yeah, you know, sponsored certification exams because we want to encourage them expanding their knowledge and make sure that they’re getting the support from us that they need to further their career opportunities and their professional development.
Nicole: That’s how we do it at Zendesk. Every company does this a little different. There’s not like necessarily an industry standard. At some companies, moderators are employees, but for us, that program is like those super users that are recognized and then kind of deputized to help run the community and be the leaders in that space.
What’s it like to be involved in the Zendesk Community?
James: Brandon, can you talk a little bit about your involvement with the Zendesk community?
Brandon: Yeah, so I started out as a Zendesk Admin. Actually… taking a step back, I started out as a “ticketing system”. I was monitoring an Outlook inbox as other duties as assigned, and then the company that I was working for at the time got Zendesk and said, “You are closest to our inbox. You’re the closest thing we have to a triage system. Congratulations, you’re our new Zendesk Admin”, and I had to learn it from the ground up.
So I spent a lot of time resourcing in both the Help Center and the Community, asking questions, gaining knowledge from other people. And, I fell in love with the product, ended up becoming certified and now I consult full-time on Zendesk implementations large and small through 729 Solutions.
And so given that, there’s oftentimes… either unique use cases that we come across, we’re like, “We’ve never heard about that. I wanna see how other people solve that problem.” Or there’s just times that I am on the message boards and on the community looking at… looking for something else, and I see a question that I happen to know the answer to.
And so I’ll go ahead and provide that feedback. I’m giving back to the community that once helped me get to where I am today. And apparently I did that enough that Brett and Nicole took notice and invited me to be a Community Moderator, to do so in a more official capacity. So now I am part of a Slack community that is a kind of a hub resource internally for power users of the platform to go in and get flagged when there is a customer that needs something in the community so that we can go and kind of be that first line of defense to provide support and share our knowledge forward in a public setting that is gonna help everyone get smarter.
How can customers apply the Zendesk Community to their instances?
James: Talk to us a little bit about how customers can apply the Zendesk Community to their own instances.
Brandon: As we’ve discussed here, using the community and engaging in the community is a great way to learn the software, to get your questions answered, to provide feedback of things that you’re experiencing in your instance that may not have been experienced in another instance, because no two instances are configured the same way.
But beyond that, Zendesk… one of my favorite things about Zendesk is that they eat their own ice cream and that the Zendesk Community is actually a heavily customized version of the Zendesk Gather product. So a lot of Zendesk customers are familiar with the Zendesk Guide product, which is your Help Center, your public facing FAQ, that’s kind of the homepage for your Zendesk… for your end users. But, there’s also a product buried within Zendesk called Gather, which is this community platform and can be activated on instances.
And we’ve taken other customers that have been new to Zendesk that have had a need for a community. We’ve introduced them to the Zendesk Gather product and helped them configure it to meet their community’s needs, how they define community. And that often involves customizing the theme, and using our design services to help them really make it look and feel and be “on brand” with their company.
But also just setting up things like permissions to make sure that you can have that level of moderated support, that people can’t just type whatever they want into the community and have it be there out on the… out on the internet. And so, it’s really a twofold experience for me where I get to be not only the customer, but also the consultant. And it’s really a fun “one foot in both worlds” experience for me.
What are Zendesk Community User Groups?
James: I wanna switch gears a little bit because I’m excited to talk to Nicole about a relatively new feature, and that is User Groups.
Nicole: So User Groups is a brand new program that we launched officially in November of last year.
So it’s really just starting to take off. What we have heard from our customers over the years, over and over again, kinda like we were talking about earlier, is that they really have a strong desire to connect directly with one another. And we’ve had all sorts of different kinds of events, both in person and in this new sort of virtual hybrid world over the years.
But we really wanted to give our community the opportunity to form their own groups and host their own events. It really is, as one person put it, giving them kind of the keys to the castle to be able to connect with folks. And so, what user groups are, is they are ongoing meetups that are led by end users for other end users.
Traditional user groups, especially in the tech industry, have been location based and many of ours still are. But because we have the ability to do virtual events now, we’re also allowing groups to form around things like roles. So we have a user group just for Community Managers that use Gather, and they meet once a month to talk about how they’re running their communities and challenges they’re facing.
We’re working on forming one for people that do knowledge management. We have another group for people who are in that support administrator role and having to deal with those unique challenges. And then we also have some that are around like sectors, for example, we have one group that’s just for customers in the enterprise space.
We have another one for customers who are in the retail, wholesale and distribution spaces. And so it really allows customers these opportunities to connect with each other and have sort of informal discussions and learn from each other in a format similar to this where they can talk about interests that are really unique and specific to them.
So we have about 10 chapters that are live right now, and then we’re gonna be launching about 10 chapters every quarter for the rest of the year. So we’re really looking for people who are interested in participating in these to come let us know who you would like to connect with, how you would like to meet up.
And we’re also accepting applications for new user group leaders as well.
James: That’s really cool. I mean, that’s a really powerful way to network and get support from people that are in the same boat as you, so to speak.
Nicole: Absolutely. And you know, we know that everybody’s got a different learning style.
Some people prefer the asynchronous conversations that happen on a forum. Some people prefer real-time conversations that happen either in person or on a Zoom call. Sometimes it depends on the kind of question you have. If you’re looking for code, you might want it written down. If you’re looking for recommendations on a workflow, you might wanna talk it through with somebody. And so we’re really trying to make sure that our community has a diverse number of offerings and ways that you can connect with and learn from people.
How can people learn more about the Zendesk Community & User Groups?
James: And how can people learn more about the Zendesk Community and User Groups?
Nicole: So, as far as the Zendesk Community goes, you can head to zendesk.com/community. That will take you to our community homepage. We do have an “Announcements and Events” topic, and that’s got a lot of the instructions that help you understand what topics are there, how to use the community, and you can dive right into those conversations.
And then for User Groups, that URL is usergroups.zendesk.com, and we definitely recommend checking out the chapters there. If you don’t see a chapter for you, which you might not yet, since it’s a new program, you can hit that, suggest a chapter button and let us know who you’d like to connect with, and then we’ll get you involved.
That site also does include our Success Team–happy… or not happy hours– office hours. Where you can go and get some advice directly from some Zendesk experts, if you’d like to, as well as our community events. So there’s just a whole lot of things going on, a whole lot of opportunities to connect, learn, and share as we like to say.
What else should people know about Zendesk and the Community?
James: Before we wrap things up, I just wanted to kind of throw a general question out to all three of you. Is there anything else that we should know about the Zendesk Community or Zendesk or User Groups in general?
Brett: I just wanted to add that like, one of the amazing things about the Zendesk Community and even the User Groups is the… my time here at Zendesk has shown me that customers or users want to hear from each other, they don’t necessarily want to hear from Zendesk in the Community. And User Groups has been a great place for them to do exactly that. You know, as someone that’s worked in our Support Team for about three or four years, it’s a lot easier to have like a narrow mind and be like, “No, like the product can’t do this.”
And, over the years I’ve seen customers provide these amazing alternative workflows. And there have been times when I’m like, “How have I not thought of that?” And so there’s just a lot that people can learn from each other, from engaging in both the community, attending our events, and joining those User Group sessions.
So that’s just… it’s been a great learning experience, not only for our customers, but also for us employees as well.
Nicole: The other thing that I would love to add, and this is kind of a shout out for Brandon even, is that the community is not only a great place to come connect with people, learn things that are gonna help you day to day in your work, help you be better at your job, but it’s really a place that you can develop yourself professionally, you know, with User Groups and the opportunities to become a User Group leader in the Online Community, the opportunity to become a Moderator in the Startups Community, the opportunity to become a Coach. There’s a lot of ways that if you are looking to build up your resume, build up your professional persona, build up your profile, these are great opportunities to do that. And we have seen a lot of people come through these programs and earn promotions or get new jobs, or build out new connections and new friendships even, by participating in these programs.
So even if you don’t have a burning Zendesk question, there’s still a lot of great reasons to come get involved and engaged in all of these spaces.
Brandon: And one thing to, to kind of piggyback off of that, and it’s a nice segue, is that as I’ve gotten to know folks in the community, we all seem to have that common thread of having a passion for customer experience and customer success and support, and making sure that we’re providing the best level of service possible for customers of our customers. And that’s kind of a niche group of people. You don’t… it’s not like I can walk to my local Starbucks and say, you know, “Oh, tell me about your customer experience. We should be friends!”
And so it’s a really great opportunity to connect with other like-minded individuals and get to know them, and especially with user groups now to get to know them beyond the product. Like I think a lot of times we spend in community work hyper-focused on solving problems, whereas the User Groups is really more focused on making those connections and networking within the space.
James: Nicole, Brett and Brandon, thank you so much for coming on and taking a deep dive into the Zendesk Community and User Groups as well. I appreciate your time.
Nicole: Thanks so much for having us.
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