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Holly's Helpful Hints: When To Community

For the past couple of weeks, these helpful hints have been focused on searching the Community. First, we talked about global search and then we covered product-specific search. But what happens if you can't find your answer in the Community, in Knowledgebase, or in the Help Docs? Where do you go to ask your question?

Well, a few months ago one of our awesome community members - Bruce Kariya - reached out and asked if I could write a helpful hint about when to ask the Community something and when to contact customer support. I've gone back and forth on what to say here, as not everyone has the same level of customer support and not everyone has the same use for the community. But as I thought about it, I did come up with a few basic guidelines:

1. Can I still work within my Blackbaud product? 
This might seem like a no-brainer, but the first question to ask yourself when deciding between posting in Community and contacting support is "can I still work within my Blackbaud product"? If the answer is yes, I recommend asking your question in the Community first. That way you can continue working while the awesome members of the Community respond with their ideas, tips, tricks, and feedback. If the answer is no and you are hosted by Blackbaud, I recommend checking the hosting status pages (linked from community) first and then making your decision from what you learn there. If the answer is no and you are not hosted by Blackbaud, I suggest contacting your IT team first and then working with them to determine if you need to engage support.

2. Do I know how to do this?
The second question should be "do I know how to do this"? If you don't know how to do something in your product, I recommend asking the Community first. There are a ton of experts in our site, including our education team, who would be happy to share resources, ideas, tips, and tricks with you to help you learn how to do something. If you think you know how to do something, but aren't getting the result you expected and you have some time before you need to deliver the result, I'd recommend asking the Community first. Community members are pretty great at helping troubleshoot tricky situations. Finally, if you aren't getting the result you expected and you're on a tight deadline, you might consider contacting support. 

3. Are there a lot of potential ways to tackle this project?
This third question comes from the unique scenarios that may arise, based on how your organization works. These idiosyncracies sometimes cause unexpected results. In these cases, the Community should be your first stop. The volume of users in the site means that there is most likely someone else who has encountered something similar and can help you work through those unexpected surprises. Plus, you'll get the perspective of other users who may have appraoched the same goals in many different ways. With more information, you can determine what will work best for you and your organization. 

4. Are you looking for feedback?
Do you have an idea that you would like feedback on? This is a purely Community-type question. Post it and then sit back and watch the ideas and feedback roll in!

5. Do you want to talk to someone like you?
And finally, if you are hoping to connect with other people who have similar work experiences to your own, the Community is the place to be! The Community is the best place to build out a network of peers to help you succeed!

Remember, these guidelines are contingent upon your scope of support, but the bottom line is, more often than not, you can start your questions or explorations in the Blackbaud Community. You'll most likely get the answer you need and you'll also connect with someone who can continue to be a resource for you in the future!

Thanks, Bruce, for the helpful hint suggestion. If you have any other suggestions, share them in the comments section below.
 
Posted by Holly Herbert on Aug 31, 2017 8:30 AM America/New_York

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Thank you for addressing this issue...it is hard sometimes to exactly know what approach is approriate. I would say that there are times when waiting for a response and identifying the BEST response on Community is not always the most time-sensitive way to get an answer. I would also say if it is a crucial question that is holding up other processes....you have to then decide to rely on Support. Gathering information and feedback along with a Support inquiry is helpful too.
  • Posted Thu 26 Jan 2017 09:17 AM EST
This is GREAT, Holly! Thank you!
  • Posted Thu 26 Jan 2017 09:22 AM EST
Thanks for this, Holly! Useful tips and sometimes I find I get different answers depending on where I go as most questions have a ton of different solutions in RE. I sometimes have trouble navigating and searching Community, though, to see if there are posts out there already about my question. Are there any sessions about tips and tricks for using Community?
  • Posted Thu 26 Jan 2017 09:29 AM EST
Awesome questions and answers Holly Herbert!
  • Posted Thu 26 Jan 2017 10:01 AM EST
Thanks Holly! This is a great description, and reminder, of the many ways the Community can be helpful.
  • Posted Thu 26 Jan 2017 03:12 PM EST
Thank you for this post. I first try to use the knowledge base as much as possible, then support.
  • Posted Fri 27 Jan 2017 08:43 AM EST
This is excellent information for community users, thank you Holly.
  • Posted Tue 31 Jan 2017 11:43 AM EST
While I think the community is great, I take issue with number 2 - Do I know how to do this? If I am trying to figure out how to do something, I usually start with the Knowledgebase. Often I can find the answer there.  If I can't figure it out based on Knowledgebase materials, I will contact support.  After all, that is what they are there for and I expect to have that level of support from the vendor.  If I just go straight to the community, I have to wait for folks to read and react to my query. My two cents worth.
  • Posted Thu 31 Aug 2017 09:25 AM EDT
Hi Kim. Thanks for this feedback. I think the distinction we are trying to make in number 2 is that Community is a good place to go to learn how to do new things while support is a good place to go when those things you are trying aren't working.
  • Posted Thu 31 Aug 2017 09:56 AM EDT
Great post, Holly!

I'd add that if you post in the Community when your question should probably have gone to Support, someone will tell you/suggest that!  (Or if you don't get an answer that suits your needs.)

One general tip...just as in RE where you search the database for a name before adding a new Constituent Record, it's good practice do a quick search before posting.  Particularly general or best practice questions.  Even if what you find is old, adding a comment will "reactivate" the post so others will read it and add new answers.
  • Posted Thu 31 Aug 2017 02:13 PM EDT
Thanks Holly, for another great Helpful Hints! 
  • Posted Fri 01 Sep 2017 08:14 AM EDT
Thank you, this is very helpful. 
  • Posted Fri 01 Sep 2017 06:08 PM EDT

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