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At a time when companies are facing the challenge of adapting their processes and working methods, Impact Hub Zurich has decided to take a decisive step. The transition to a more digitalized and networked working environment had become inevitable in order to meet the increasing demands for flexibility, efficiency and a sense of community.

In an interview with Simone Uster, Community Lead, we find out how our digital solution[Bling] has helped to tackle the challenges in the areas of communication and community building, and what goals it aims to achieve.

What challenges led to the integration of the new digital solution?

In today’s dynamic world, where digital networking is not only valued but also expected, our members have encountered a number of obstacles. Members could not exchange information directly via chat, but only by e-mail, which made it difficult to work together in an online community. The same applied to membership data and concerns. Membership data could only be displayed to a limited extent and the team had to be consulted directly or by e-mail for information and adjustments. There were no standardized forms for recurring processes and no internal ticket system to process these issues efficiently.

The members could not exchange information directly via chat, but only by e-mail, which made collaboration in an online community more difficult.

Given this situation, it was clear that a new digital solution was required. This should not only simplify the administrative process, but also provide a platform for digital collaboration. This is because the community was more active on site in the space, but not to the same extent online. The aim was to create a new digital centerpiece that integrates all members– including those who are rarely or never on site and mainly work remotely. These members should receive the same high standard of service digitally as those who are physically present in the Impact Hub. The previous member app, which functioned more as an administration tool than a community platform, was ultimately used more as a pinboard to share something when you were looking for something. This was also reflected in the usage data. It was precisely this gap in digital interaction that was recognized as a central deficit and was to be closed by the new solution.

What are your main objectives in introducing the new digital solution?

In the time after COVID-19, we were faced with the challenge of adapting to a new normality. The pandemic has not only changed the way we work, but also our expectations of the working environment and the tools we use for it. With this in mind, we have set ourselves the short-term goal of better community building. Members should be able to network with each other regardless of their location. Expectations changed, video calls and chat solutions were suddenly in high demand. Onboarding must now also be possible online and not just offline on site. All of this had to be taken into account in our digital solution in order to meet the needs of our members.

Another goal that we are pursuing in the long term was the global networking of all Impact Hub locations. We realized that we needed a platform that would enable and promote this global networking in everyday life. It should be easier to share projects, ideas and challenges, no matter where you are.

Ultimately, we wanted to create and maintain the feeling of a vibrant community in the digital space – both locally and globally. Our solution had to be designed to encourage interaction and relationship building between members to create a truly engaged community.

How does the new digital solution fit into Impact Hub Zurich’s vision?

A key aspect of the digital solution is the ability to exchange data globally in the medium term. Sharing local knowledge and innovations on a global level not only strengthens the Impact Hub’s position as a pioneer for innovation and social entrepreneurship, but also promotes the global network and cooperation between the various hubs worldwide.

Another point is increasing efficiency in the operating business, which we want to achieve by optimizing member management. This allows us to use the resources of the community team to improve the member experience.

Improved opportunities for interaction and participation make it easier for members to get involved in projects, which in turn strengthens their sense of belonging and active participation.

The added value offered by new functions such as ticketing and chat also plays an important role. These tools not only improve communication and engagement within the community, but also provide a platform for events and workshops. Improved opportunities for interaction and participation make it easier for members to get involved in projects, which in turn strengthens their sense of belonging and active participation. Finally, the opportunity for communities to exchange ideas with each other promotes the development of a strong, supportive network.

In conclusion, where do you see the advantages of the new digital solution?

The new digital solution conveys a feeling of closeness, transparency and belonging. This is not a matter of course, especially online, but this solution makes it tangible. We also hope to simplify the onboarding process. This allows us to communicate the added value that the Impact Hub offers to new members much more efficiently and effectively. This not only significantly shortens the adoption phase, but also actively contributes to increasing customer satisfaction. As a result, the churn rate can even be reduced.

With the new solution, members can now manage their membership themselves and report concerns and problems directly via a ticket system. Last but not least, the digital solution promotes direct online-based collaboration. Real-time exchange and access to a narrative newsfeed create synergies between members. This dynamic attracts more members and cross-communities that are internationally networked, increases engagement within the community and may even enable the development of new programs in the future.