Mario is a support and community legend within the Business Catalyst arena. He is one of the original BC team from back in the 'ol days. I got a chance to chat while in Sydney this summer...
I apologize for the weird audio in this video, my mic fell off as we started the interview - had to work with just Mario's audio. DIY fail :)
Brent: Hey, this is Brent Weaver from bcgurus.com. I'm here with Mario from Adobe, welcome to the program.
Mario: Thanks, man.
Brent: Mario, I think you're quite famous with most BC partners. If you haven't seen Mario's name in support of the forums, I think you're missing out on some really valuable stuff, you've been around the BC community for a while. So I just want to start off by thanking you for everything you've done for the partners over the years.
Mario: You're welcome.
Brent: So, Mario, tell me what you do at Adobe.
Mario: Well, I'm kind of clean support. I've been in support for quite a few years. At the moment, my project is managing the new forum community that we started off two months ago.
Mario: And, you know, moved from BC forums, which we've outgrown, to the other B forums, hosted in [inaudible 00:01:08].
Brent: Very nice. So now, you've been around, you've been in the BC team for quite a while, but what is your background? What did you do before BC?
Mario: Before BC I started off in a networking company called Net Come Here, and I was doing IP telephony and routers and all that, setting up and supporting all that and then moved to BC in May 2007, started off as a first support agent.
Brent: Very cool, so you were like in BC from the beginning almost.
Mario: From the beginning, yes. I was the seventh person, back in the days when Biden was buying your lunch on Fridays.
Brent: Adobe doesn't buy lunch on Fridays?
Mario: No. I was thrown in there with a PDF document, which was the documentation before, and V1.
Brent: I don't know if I've ever heard, I came on in 2008, so I'm not even sure if I know what V1 looked like.
Mario: It was this orange blue thing that wasn't very user friendly, until we re-skinned it into V2 which you know now.
Mario: So one of my early tasks was to develop an online solution for the documentation, which was the online business wiki on MediaWiki.
Brent: Oh, yeah. It still has a place in my heart. I'm always wondering when the online business wiki is going to come back to Business Catalyst ,
I don't think that that is going to happen but it was an elegant solution for sure.
Mario: Yeah, I liked it. It just needed a better search, but it was quite nice.
Brent: Very nice. So, you said you guys used to use support in a single email box. That must have been crazy.
Mario: Yeah, it was. It was support our BusinessCatalyst.com, and until recently, if you email that account you probably would have gotten support through it.
Brent: I think for a while..[inaudible 00:03:35]
A:It was supportbusinesscatalyst.com, we used the IMAP protocol to connect to it, and everyone who wanted to reply to support could simply go there and reply and delete.
Brent: So it's evolved a little bit.
Mario: It's evolved a little bit. We later on started using customer service ticketing which is built in to BC, and we used it up to two months ago, when we moved onto Adobe tools, and you guys have experienced it.
Brent: Yeah, for sure. So what's, I know, kind of forums, support, all that stuff, it seems like there's a bit of a transition right now. Can you tell me a bit now that you're managing the forums, I mean, obviously you guys are transitioning a lot of content, tell me how that process has been.
Mario: Because BC doesn't have forum export feature, the two systems are incompatible, I had to go through all the forum posts, and all the topics that were started in the last 12 months and manually move all the content that I found that's useful. So it's a lot of manual work, it took me weeks. I moved everything that I thought was good, and we ended up with about 250 topics that I thought helped.
Brent: OK. That were relevant, still?
Mario: That were relevant.
Brent: OK. So, was it just yourself that did this, or wiki members that participated?
Mario: Liam did help me a lot, everyone knows Liam, really. Shout out to Liam, thanks man. He really helped me out with setting up the new platform and moving those posts and producing some new stuff on Menus V2 and with Liam's experience. So, us two pretty much did it.
Brent: Very cool. So, just thinking about how the community interacts currently on the forum and even with support tickets in general, you've been doing support for BC for so long, I feel like if you could tell a BC partner anything to make their support experience better, what are some tips and tricks and suggestions you'd make to partners?
Mario: The main tip is to provide enough information at the beginning, when you first reach out to support. To provide enough links, screenshots, maybe a short video of what's happening. Error messages, definitely. Anything that can help us replicate the issue and come up with some sort of conlusion. If it's a bug or something we can fix. Just provide as much information as you can in your first touch so you don't have to go back and forth with support.
Brent: I'm just thinking from past experience there's been times when I submitted a support ticket and maybe said, "I need help with my web forum."
And that's it. And you think about that from the other end, and you have a partner that has 50 sites, and that individual site might have five web forums, and it can be very confusing about what that really means and that delays the process.
Mario: Exactly, and that's a good example. My web forum isn't submitting, which web forum, where does it reside, what URL? Sometimes we get a site URL, but then we don't get a page URL where the forum, so we reinsert the forum onto the test page and, oh look, it's working. So if you can just give us the URL, all the form names and so on, so that we can troubleshoot the issue.
Brent: Very cool. Now, on the forum itself, are you looking for partners to contribute and start participating in that?
Mario: Definitely. That's one of my goals now is to kind of get the community to contribute, because what I want partners to do is try to help out, you know. I've noticed that your guys are participating, and thanks for that, it's awesome.
Brent: Yeah, no problem.
Mario: If you can help out, put a link to the website, promote yourself, but if you're generally helping out, I love it. I want the Jive to become like a real good community knowledge repository.
Brent: Just to explain to the partners out there, I think Jive is the software.
Mario: Jive is the software.
Brent: The forum and the knowledge base that is getting built and rebuilt on BC, which is really cool. Some other changes that you mentioned to me earlier, you guys were looking to use tags and categories to help provide quick access to some of the content?
Mario: Yeah, I've noticed that when people are posting discussions that they are good at tagging the discussion, if it's e-commerce related, registration form, people are really tagging the discussions well. So what I want to do is build a browse panel, where you can easily navigate through those tags and categories and it will return everything that's helpful in those areas. So that's one of the plans and also I'd love to have a video section, of our official videos, and also anything that support agents are producing. You know, the community is producing, we could tag it as videos and have a section of a few hundred videos.
Brent: Yeah, for sure, I think unlocking the potential of a broader community, there's so much knowledge out there.
Mario: There is, and to have it centralized and have a go to place for help, it would be fantastic.
Brent: Yeah, for sure. So, you've just finished a couple of days of partner conferences here, so what was your experience? Did you enjoy hanging out with partners?
Mario: I loved it, you know, I shook over 200 hands, you know. It was so good to see the partners that I supported for so many years and to approach me and say, "Yo, Mario", "Your, Phil!" it was really nice to put a face to the name, and really hang out and talk to them and see who they are and where they work from and how big their team is, all that sort of stuff.
Brent: For sure, I feel like when I was hanging out with people, people would come up and introduce themselves to me, and there would be a minute where I was sort of squinting, imagining what their face looked like in a 100 pixel by 100 pixel avatar. So it was really cool to see a lot of people. And, unfortunately, Mario and I were on the same lawn bowling team, and we didn't end up placing, but we still had a lot of fun. So, what can we tell as far as getting partners to engage? Going to the forums is kind of the first line of defense, that's where we want people to start participating more. You know, do we want people to reach out to you and see how they can contribute, is that possible?
Mario: Definitely. If you really want to contribute and I see you contributing a lot on forums, reach out to me and we'll see what we can do. If you produce useful content, I'll give you thumbs up and credit.
Mario: It's definitely,yeah, please do.
Brent: Yeah, I can tell you from my experience at BC gurus, having a unified effort to participate in the forums, and it's really helped drive a lot of traffic back to our business, and a big part of our market is partners, that's a lot of fun and it's cool to provide something of value back to the community and I can tell you that it does definitely pay back depending on how your business is set up, so I can encourage partners to do that a lot.
Mario: And also, I think if you, I subscribe through an RSS feed to forums, and although I answer all of them, I notice that a few partners actually keep up to date with stuff through forum RSS feeds, so, like, they'll see what cool stuff other people are doing, and a lot of people post cool stuff, links and stuff like that.
Brent: Yeah, I feel like it's sometimes difficult to jump into the forum and look at the newest stuff all the time, but I think using Google Reader-
type RSS can really make that experience a little bit better. So definitely that's a good tip out there for BC partners who are looking to get engaged. Is there anything else, while you have the floor? I mean, you've got the millions of people who..[inaudible 00:13:07]
Mario: That's all. Come to forums, contribute, help the community, help us, let's all hang out there and be happy.
Brent: For sure. Very cool.
Mario: And come to the conference next year, if you can.
Brent: Definitely. The conferences that are going to be coming up, definitely with more partners participating. This was awesome, the Australian hospitality was absolutely awesome, lots of good times, lots of good people out here, it's been really amazing. I want to thank everyone that participated in the conferences. Mario, I appreciate you taking the time to share some info with us at BC guros and I'm sure we'll see you around.
Brent: Thanks for watching BCgurus.com, and we'll have more great content coming to you soon.