So, you’ve implemented this great community. You know it’s a fantastic idea. You’ve done the research and have seen how launching a community can successfully decrease calls into your company’s call center by a sizable percentage. You know that some subset of your customer base would prefer to talk to each other over talking to some company “employee.” They want fellow customers to help them answer their questions. Why? Well, could be for many reasons. Some customers are really proud of how much they know about your product/service, and love to share that knowledge with other people. Some customers want to ask opinions about alternative ways to use your product or service, or, if you offer technology, sometimes customers want to talk to other customers about how to integrate your technology with other technology. When I ran the community at a large top cable television provider in the United States, our community members would discuss how to integrate their Roku boxes with their cable boxes. This wasn’t something the cable company directly supported, and community members had great insight to share with customers. It was a win-win. Customers want to help each other and you want them to help each other because it saves your company time and money; and you’ve provided this great space for them to do that. Now… how do you take your community from the empty land of tumbleweeds, straight from the box, and turn it into a thriving metropolis of activity and inspiration? Here are a few ideas for you:

 3 Ways to Fast Track Community Growth

  1. Seed the community. 
    • Soft Launch - Before you have an official launch that is open to the public, consider a “soft launch.” Invite employees who also use your products and / or services to begin posting and asking any questions they may have. This allows employees to become familiar with the community forums, and also provides a space for them to get their questions answered while creating some genuine activity on the forums. This also gives you a chance to test-drive the platform with your community moderators. You might also consider giving your employees badges that indicate they are employees, though I recommend these be distinct from moderator badges. 
    • Friends and Family Launch - Now that you’ve held the soft launch why not go a little further and open the community up to friends and family? You can provide an “exclusive” pass for your high-value customers to explore the community and provide feedback on their experience with suggestions for improvement. 
  2. Advertise.
    • Commercials: Customer support has been widely touted as the new marketing for companies; however you see very few commercials that discuss how companies go above and beyond to provide a space for customers to quickly and easily get the help they need. A commercial about your community forums/customer support community could be just the thing you need to set your company apart from the competition. Don’t want to do a whole commercial? Consider adding just a tag line to the end of an existing commercial to increase customer awareness of the community.
    • Billing Statements: Sending monthly billing statements or invoices to customers? Consider adding a message to that billing statement. You might be surprised how many customers read those things!
    • Social media: Customers who post on social media could be just those who would enjoy being part of your community. A post by your company announcing the community with a link to the community sign-up page could increase your subscriber rates. In today’s age, customers appreciate new and beneficial social tools!
    • Agent discussion: When customers contact customer care agents via retail store, telephone, support chat or social media, consider having the agents advise the customers that there is a new community forum they might want to check out. The agents could assist the customer with whatever they’ve called in about, and then mention the community and how it could provide either additional information or information on other topics.
  3. Integrate. Link to your Social or CRM software: Did you know that some CRM systems and social customer care software can hook into your Telligent community? Yep. I used a social media customer care tool and had it pull the posts from the Telligent community right in. And the social tool would scan social posts for key words, then suggest threads from the Telligent platform that could answer the customer’s question. Much like in the Agent Discussion suggestion, you could have your social care agents answer the customer’s question, and then also provide a link to the Telligent community thread that would provide additional information for them. Perhaps next time that customer would prefer to check the community and potentially save a telephone call!

 

So, those are three ways you can infuse life into your brand-new support forums. 

For individual help getting your community on the fast track to ROI, or integrating community into your overall digital support program, contact me or visit www.SociallySupportive.com

Anonymous
  • Great stuff Frankie, thank you!

  • Some great points here .

    You've covered one of the most important things about a new community; the seeding! Too often people think launching a community is enough without seeding and it is those communities that suffer.

    I'd also add that it's quite important not to get carried away with features, functionality and groups at launch. A community needs to be easy and simple to use when you launch. You can use the feedback and suggestions, which you suggested in your post, to add features and functionality that your customers want rather than what you think they want. Remember that the community is for your customers and what better way to build an affection between your customers and your community than by having your customers have a say in how the community grows.