Community Club Weekly

Issue #76 | May 20th, 2021

Community Club Weekly is a newsletter about building and growing communities, featuring collected tweets, posts, and thoughts from various Community Managers. 

⛑ This Model Shows How Community Fits into All Departments

Ever heard of triage? If you're not a Grey's Anatomy die-hard, here's the gist: it's what happens in an emergency room, where a doctor or nurse assesses the severity of your ailment to decide on the best course of action to treat it.

Adrian Speyer, Head of Community & Lead Evangelist at Higher Logic's Vanilla Forums has applied this to his own work, creating a useful model to show how community can be the first port-of-call for customers across all business departments. 

Community Triage: The Future of the Community-Centric Customer Journey

Adrian Speyer

When explaining how community can — and should — fit into the various departments of a business, I like to illustrate it with my Community Triage model. I have my wife, who works tirelessly as a nurse, to thank for introducing me to this concept. I can also trace it back to research we did in 2020, which underscored just how much people prefer to self-support — that is, when it's done well. Here's what we uncovered in a nutshell:

  • 84% of people will try to solve their own issues
  • 79% of people expect self-support tools without contacting other support channels
  • 77% of people viewed organizations more positively if they offered self-service support

In other words, a customer's initial reaction is not to call or create a ticket, but to engage in the community first. It was this that formed the basis of my triage philosophy. I really see this model as the future — becoming the primary lead layer of customer experience and streamlining customer interactions for maximum efficiency. 

Most importantly, as our research shows: it's what people want.

Community Triage within an organization

Community Triage is really the idea that the community should be at the absolute heart of any customer journey. Here's what that might mean for various departments:


Placing community upfront for support makes it the first place people will go to ask questions — perhaps in an area for public discussion, where they can get help from their peers. It's also where they'll find a searchable knowledge base, which the members themselves might be able to add to. If a customer’s question is too niche or detailed to be answered in these spaces, their query can then be moved into a private ticket or on to support agents.


There are three things that that success requires — or rather, what people require in order to be successful.

  1. Inspiration: What have your customers already doing? What can I copy?
  2. Best practices: What are the best-in-class companies doing? And how can I do it?
  3. Networking: How can I connect with others in the same space? What can I learn from them?

This is how we run our community at Vanilla Forums — it's not a support community, but a success community. We want people to be inspired: to see best practices, share with each other, and connect with other Vanilla customers.


If you're putting community out front, it could be the first place a customer will encounter your brand. This makes it the perfect space for them to find their own answers to some pre-sales questions. What's included in their plan? What kind of plan do they need? It's a place for self-research — for kicking the tires, understanding how other customers feel about you, and how you interact with them.

There's also an opportunity for sales promotion. Now, I don't mean beating people over the head with advertising. But the nature of community means you'll have a bit more info about customers at your disposal, so you're able to tailor some offers based on the content that they are consuming, or showcase certain aspects of the product they may not be aware of, and so on. This is also where you might offer up a sales form, if people want to skip right to a demo or get more information.


This is another way we use our community internally at Vanilla, with great success. There are so many routes for synergy between community and product: for example, gathering feedback, when users report bugs and get help resolving them. Your community platform then becomes a product repository of sorts — if something is not working the way it should, the community is going to uncover it first. It can also be a space for users to vote or submit ideas on new features, and, as touched on previously, learn how to use the product better.

Something important to highlight here: if you're asking people to submit feedback or ideas, you need to have a process to give them feedback in return. You need to make sure they know you're hearing them. It's about closing that loop.



Like sales, this is an area that community folks tend to be wary of, but to be clear, I'm not talking about spamming your community here. It's about enhancing their experience. For one thing, a community can be a space for gathering info on the kind of content your customers or users actually want. It's also a great place to find case studies, as well as advocates and influencers. Lastly, it can be a platform for identifying and handling reviews. This goes for negative ones too. If someone's unhappy, I really would prefer they came to the community so we have a conversation, where things can be more detailed or private.


Your community could be an untapped resource of great future team members. The fact that they're in your community is a great start — you know they're invested. But do they have the industry knowledge? Are they a good culture fit? Are they passionate about what you do? That data is all right there for you.

In a nutshell

I think community upfront is the future. It's a more efficient use of your staff. It increases your organizational knowledge because it means everything we talked about above — knowledge bases, questions, product feedback — is all in one space. It can help you identify sales opportunities, drive lead capture rates, and hire better people.

Placing community at the beginning of any customer journey is so beneficial across departments. It offers them the self-service options they want and will help channel customers to the best 'treatment' for their needs.

This article is an adapted version of Adrian's session at our Community-Led Summit — head over to our YouTube channel to watch a recording.
Were you at our summit? We would love to hear your feedback — what you liked or didn't like, what you'd want to see in future events we hold, etc. It should only take 5 minutes of your time to fill out, and we would really appreciate it!
Tell us what you thought

📆 Upcoming Events

Upcoming events, from the club and its members

AMA with Robert Gelb (Forem) — June 2 @ 12 p.m. ET

Future Developer Summit: Developer-led Business Growth | Episode 2 — June 9 @ 11 a.m. ET

Community Club Hangout — June 10 @ 5 p.m. ET

AWS She Builds Day — June 10 @ 10 p.m. ET

Community Club Hangout — June 24 @ 12p.m. ET

🐦 Community Tweets

Lived experience > theories.
Remote work is fast becoming a dealbreaker.
Assemble! 🦸

📚 Community Reading List

Community blog posts and articles from the past week

The Real Value of Your Brand Community

It's 72% cheaper for the client to answer a question via the community than via traditional avenues of support. 

By Richard Millington

10 Examples of Online Communities from Brands You Love

From Lego to Harleys, here's a look at a few brands using online communities to connect with their customers, users, and members.

By Kennedy Lukey

Scaling Communities: Weekend Club's Charlie Ward

An insightful weekly interview series by Hive, highlighting the tools, systems, and tactics that scale online communities.

By Max Haining


🙌 Community Jobs

A few job opportunities sourced from the community.

Head of Player Community @ Manticore Games

Senior Community Manager @ Tricentis

Community Marketing Manager @ Hopin

Community Manager @ General Provision

Brand and Community Owner @ TrendWatching

Head of Community @ SingleStore 

Community Manager @ Daylight

Community Manager @ Shop

Community Storytelling Lead @ Substack

Head of Community @ Unshackled Ventures

Community Engagement Manager @ DataRobot

Senior Community Marketing Manager @ Slack

Community Educator, C School @ Commsor

Senior Manager, Community @ Gamestop

Online Community Manager @ Higher Logic

Community Manager @ Free Agency

VP of Community Management @ Stack Overflow

Senior Community Manager @ Nextroll

Community Experience Manager @ Disciple


View more roles and join the Talent Network

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