I work with customers every day, from varying industries and with different missions, all trying to figure out how to give their customers a voice and build a unique experience. We help by providing a tool to enable companies and individuals come together online to accomplish a goal. While there are many reasons I hear about as to why someone has chosen to build a community, this is what I hear most often:
1) Improving the Customer Support Experience
This one is near and dear to my heart with my role of ensuring our customers are supported in the way they want. We have several ways to support our customers, but what we have found most effective is the 1-to-many approach. Instead of sending an email or calling customer support, a customer can browse through a community and ask their question, and our company, another customer or a partner can answer. This allows members to crowdsource their answers, or better yet, discover their question already answered in the community!
2) Increase Customer Satisfaction
At Telligent, we work to be as transparent as possible and want our customers to have the most up to date and accurate information. A community is a great way to engage with your customers, partners, or employees where you can communicate, and more importantly listen to what is needed. Whether that is an issue that needs resolving, a feature that needs implementing, or a story that needs sharing, community can give people a voice where they did not have (an effective) one before.
3) Crowd sourcing product development
Knowing what your customers want, whether you’re building software, selling hardware, or a retail product, is crucial to the viability of your business. For example, in the ideas section on our community, we have customers, partners and employees coming together to share what features or modifications would enable them to best utilize our software to build incredible communities. Our product team reviews these ideas and puts them to action. We’ve heard so much positive feedback and, we’re growing our audience that shares ideas for what they would like to see. You can do the same.
4) Reduce operating and support costs
Being able to reduce the number of calls being fielded is one of the biggest reasons why our customers use and grow their community. They’re telling a story in the community, they’re involving the user base, and they’re learning what customers want. They’re taking the guesswork out of the game and delivering based on the feedback they are hearing.
5) Drive New Business
If you’ve done all of the above correctly, the community will help you retain existing customers, provided opportunities to share what other products are available, as well as show potential customers what your products can do, and how well you support it. Naturally, this should lead to additional sales either from existing or new customers as you’re building the right products, listening to your users, and creating an experience you want.
These are just 5 of the reasons to have a community. I’m interested to hear what reasons you’ve found for deploying or growing a community.