James: James Schramko here with my buddy, John Lint, from 10XPRO.io.
John: Hey everybody!
James: John, today we’re talking memberships, courses and one question that comes up a lot is around how you handle questions from your members if you have the type of membership where your customers (i.e. members) can actually interact with you and managing that question flow.
So you had a question from one of your members and I think it’ll be great to answer that today.
John: Right. Yeah, absolutely. Depending on how you set up your membership site, you can have a forum in there, you can have comments on the page, you can have private groups inside your courses. And all of that, you can do with 10XPRO.io
So, basically, you are going to be building your own community and as part of that you’re going to have different people interacting in different ways. And you know some people will ask some things that maybe are outside of the scope of your membership site or maybe they’re going to ask the things that they shouldn’t be asking or making comments that are maybe are not appropriate. So, the question was like, how do you handle that, John? How can I manage my members? How do I set the boundaries? All of that stuff.
And I know that you, James, you have been running your membership sites for such a long time so I’m sure you have a couple of things that you can share about that, right?
James: I sure do. So, there’s a lot involved in this. I do on average about a thousand posts per month, have done for about 10 years. So, I have seen a lot of questions asked and answered.
Now, it’s good to set boundaries. So, you could do a lot in terms of the offer that you’re making. You can set an expectation of how much access you will have. Some people actually ask that pre-purchase. They might say, What sort of access do I get?
We set a time scale around that and then, of course, when people join, you can do things to indoctrinate them into the way that it can work. You can send them onboarding documents, you can send personalized introductions, you can send automatic post. In our case, it’s a video that explains how the section works and how they can actually interact with me and what would be a reasonable expectation for a response.
And then, of course, you set the tone by doing. So, I show up pretty much every day. I respond to comments so people get a feel for the frequency. And I also generally have a habit of the timing that I answer posts. Generally, there’s a time in my day when I’m most active.
People get a feel for that. It’s kind of like doing your rounds, you know, if you were doing a lawn mowing round like I used to have, actually or delivering newspapers.
James: People get used to the frequency of when you do the rounds and the response times and then, of course, if you’ve got the kind of environment where people can interact with each other, that’s a particularly powerful aspect that some membership owners have really leveraged. And that is where the customer becomes part of the product and they help each other.
And it’s really good for the customers and it’s really good for the membership owner because your customers are helping you out, spreading the load, and you can facilitate that by having, again, clear representation of the sections or the purpose of what that is. If you have a wall where people can message, give that section a name, explain how that section works and then lead by example.
So, those are a few tips that might get you down that path.
John: Yeah, absolutely. And I think setting up the boundaries at the very, very beginning is really powerful, very important, and also, implementing those boundaries. If there is someone who crosses that line, well, you need to have systems in place where you can just gently remind them. So if it’s in a forum, you might need to move the thread to another section. If it’s in a social wall, you might just tell them, hey, we don’t answer those questions here, but you can go here.
Like for example, with 10XPRO.io, if I’m going to have a group that is there and people are asking about tech support questions, that’s not really the place to do that, right? So you just want to remind people a little bit about some of your, let’s say, “rules”.
And like you said, having other members help you with that is really powerful. For example, in the forum, you can make specific members moderators, right? That’s something that a lot of people do and now you have pretty much an army of people who can help you with that, as well.
And that can help you make sure that the community is on track, that the conversations are on track, and everything is cool.
James: And I think you can carry some of those things into the pre-sales messaging, as well.
John: Yeah, yeah.
James: Have a really clear and easy support mechanism. I found that people generally don’t ask me. It almost never happens where people ask me, how do I update my credit card or I can’t log in. They all know to go to support.
The support email is very clearly labeled. We had our own domain name that helps people find support – superfasthelp.com. And there’s a little widget people can click on in our membership that takes them straight to support. So, make it easy for people to know where they should be asking the right questions.
Now, what if someone steps out of line and they are asking things or talking about things that generally aren’t within the tone of the community? As a community owner, you do have a duty of care for the other members.
So, we have some pretty clear guidelines and if people step over it, I wouldn’t hesitate to delete content if it’s offensive or if it’s not in keeping with the tone of the membership to protect other members.
And the other thing that I’ll do, if people are using a private feature where they’re excessively asking a lot of questions, I might actually slow them down and actually, draw attention to them and give them a benchmark. I might say, just so that you know, you ask a lot more questions than other people and you keep sort of going around in circles rather than actually implementing on the things we talk about.
Sometimes I give them homework, as well. I might say, look, could you go and watch this or read this and then after you’ve done that come back and tell me what your action list looks like and we’ll help organize that. So, that way, that will slow the customer down. It’s not so that I have less work to do. It’s so they actually get a result.
James: But they’re not going to get a result by having this continuous, asynchronous conversation with me and never actually doing any of the work.
John: Yeah, yeah. That’s brilliant. And having a good onboarding process like you said, super powerful, you know? You want to remind people all the time. This is where you can get support, this is how it’s going to work. If you’re doing private chat, yes, slowing things down.
You know, sometimes, I like to answer questions as fast as possible but in some case scenarios, like you said, you need to slow it down. So, in that case, I’m going to maybe take an extra day to reply. And I’m going to try to slow it down to make sure that things are on track and to make sure that we don’t go into a crazy back-and-forth where the client is just asking all the time. And like you said, the job is for them to take action.
James: And if they ask you something that’s a big nugget, I sometimes get asked by people if I could check out a sales letter or listen to a sales call recording. That could be a big chunk of work to do. So, I might signal that that’s going to take a little longer. Happy to have a listen to the calls, it’s not going to be today. I’m going to need a day or two to get to those and to come back so you can set a clear expectation along the way through.
It’s just important that you maintain your promises, that’s the other thing to the point where when people build an expectation and you can meet it, you’re going to have great happy customers who get results. And it’s a double-edged sword, let’s face it.
James: It’s potentially one of the most powerful things you can offer members that can also help you build a business that you resent if it gets abused and you don’t set up the boundaries properly or help customers use it properly.
So, I would say be as literal as here’s how this section works, provide some examples and then it’ll be happy days.
John: Yeah and I think it’s also important not to be afraid. Ultimately, you’re building a business. And it’s your business, right? So, yeah. You want to deliver awesome customer support, awesome value, help people out. But, at the same time, you need to build the business that you enjoy and with the flavor or the way you want to run it, right?
And I think that’s important, as well, to remember not to be afraid of telling some of your customers, hey, slow down a bit, because ultimately it’s your business.
James: That’s it and in the general scheme of the marketplace, if you would actually contact a customer reasonably frequently, you’ll be miles ahead of the average person in your market who is doing everything they can to automate, distance, and push you away.
I remember there was someone I used to look up to greatly through my career. And then when it came to communication, there will be a year and a half delays and I lost all respect. Like, just for the fact that, you know, such a disappointment. They say, never meet your heroes. So, I always wanted to provide the service that I wasn’t provided and that’s why it’s such a powerful feature. Use it well.
Of course, if you’ve got any other questions like this, ask John or I. John runs 10XPRO.io. It’s the world’s greatest membership and course platform. It’s a mash-up of all the best tools you’ve ever heard of in one place.
And of course, I run SuperFastBusiness membership where I coach online businesses, help them improve their profit, get better results, handle all the challenges that come at you as a business owner like this one.
John, it’s always a pleasure to catch up. Thank you so much.
John: Thank you