The Importance of Building a Strong Customer Community
What if there was one customer support channel that helped cut down the number of support tickets and delivered faster customer service, without relying on customer support staff?
It exists — and it’s entirely powered by a network of users who volunteer their time and knowledge to help other users, building what’s known as a customer community.
Mozilla is known for their reliance on such a community, demonstrating that you don’t actually need a phone line or an email address to offer great customer support. More than ten thousand volunteers ensure that help documentation is up-to-date so that end-users can find answers to most questions and don’t have to reach out to the support team.
As Mozilla has proved, when people talk to one another, it motivates them to keep communicating — just like the conversations that happen on social media (or even in real life!). As we wrote on our Secret Sauce article, “if these conversations are channelized in the right direction, it evokes interest in more people. Sort of like a ripple effect.”
Customer communities not only offer customer support to other users, but they can also help strengthen customer connections and build a stronger brand narrative.
But, is it worth setting up a customer community?
Why You Should Care about your Customer Community
Building a community is a reflection of a company’s customer service mindset. Caring about those customers who are interested in engaging with your brand or product isn’t just the right thing to do — it also makes business sense. According to RightNow1, 55% of consumers say easy access to support and information can make them fall in love with a brand. And 59% of consumers say they would try a new brand or company for better service experience, according to GetFeedback’s blog.
If your brand or product doesn’t have a community plan in place it could be missing out on opportunities that could turn customers into fans, while also getting valuable product feedback.
Setting up a community-powered support platform takes time and can require some technical investment, but once your followers become an extension of your customer support team, the effort put in becomes valuable.
How to Create a Strong Service-Oriented Community
Every community is built on ideals as diverse as your organization, serving a different audience and accomplishing different goals. You certainly don’t need a fancy website for your followers to engage in a community — finding the right space for a service-oriented community will depend on your organization’s goals and size.
Here are some of the things to take into account if you want to build an engaged community:
#1 Find the Right Platform for Your Community
If you want to start easy, consider creating a LinkedIn or Facebook group specially dedicated to your followers. These work particularly well for smaller organizations. If your company is large, then building your own community website — with specific features and categories, like Revolut’s2, might make more sense.
#2 Engage Your Community
Be original! Find ways to make your community feel like true contributors to your product or brand. Revolut’s community awards badges that show how much work you’ve done for the community. For example, the badge “Empathetic” is given to members who have reached 500 likes on their posts and have also given 1,000 or more likes in return. Members with this badge are considered a “model of generosity and mutual appreciation.”
Of course, if you contribute to the community often, it probably feels great to be valued in this way! In practice, Revolut community page works like a traditional online forum — no matter how weird or specific your question is, there’ll probably be someone who has had the same issue before and can, therefore, offer help. As with regular forum pages, often this is faster and more effective than reaching out to a company’s customer support!
#3 Find Useful Metrics to Measure Your Efforts
Metrics to look for when working with a community depend on what your goals are. If you’re looking to create a customer-centric community, something to look at would be how accurate community answers are (by tracking # or % of accepted solutions over a set period). Bluewolf3 has a pretty comprehensive list of metrics around customer community.
#4 Listen to Your Community
Make sure you’re monitoring the conversations in your community — beyond social media. “Branded customer communities are social pages on steroids,” writes Lisa Nirell4, from marketing consultancy EnergizeGrowth. Of course, this means that you do need to pay attention to your customers in the community. If messages go unanswered, you face the risk of losing members. “We follow hashtags and configure our notifications so that we are made aware of new comments and posts. Then we strive to reply quickly to comments, involve our leaders in community conversations, and we don’t shy away from reaching out to members using direct messaging, emails or even text messages,” Hadari Oshri from fashion brand Xehar tells Forbes5.
Beyond Customer Support: Other Advantages of Community Pages
The advantage of having a community doesn’t stop at providing faster or more effective customer support. When done right, customers can also influence the product roadmap. In 1Password Reddit’s community6, for example, users discuss feedback and feature requests directly with the company’s customer support, while others comment on those requests, resulting in a lively conversation. 1Password’s subreddit provides the perfect space for customers to make suggestions, provide feedback and engage with the brand, beyond asking their customer support for help. Ultimately, being close to customer problems and getting collective thoughts can serve as an inspiration to grow your product to the next level.
Not only that — when you have a customer community that works, it’s also a great place to identify those customers who are advocates of your brand and stimulate them. 1Password, for example, offers occasional discounts, like a free month, to some participants in the subreddit, so they can try out certain accounts. And while this strategy might not have an immediate effect on your brand or product, fostering a relationship of trust and support with your customers is essential for building a successful business.
Customer communities can supercharge your customer support. Give participants the support they deserve and it won’t be difficult to reap the rewards of building a community.
Remember that a customer community is not really a community unless you listen in too! Use the opportunity to engage with your users as they give feedback and ask for feature requests — this raw information can scale your product. You can also ask the community to test new product features before rolling them over to your entire user base.
While it won’t replace your customer support team, a healthy community base will complement it, helping reduce support tickets and making customers happier along the way.
If used right, customer communities can help create a relationship that transforms your business.
1 – https://www.getfeedback.com/blog/40-stats-churn-customer-satisfaction/
2 – https://community.revolut.com/
3 – https://www.bluewolf.com/bluewolf-now/metrics-you-need-track-community-success
4 – https://www.huffingtonpost.com/lisa-nirell/customer-community-is-the_b_6416604.html?guccounter=1
5 – https://www.forbes.com/sites/yec/2018/03/13/how-to-build-a-community-for-your-brand-and-boost-your-sales/#6ffa4747135a
6 – https://www.reddit.com/r/1Password/