The Power of Customer Communities: Increasing ROI through Meaningful Engagement

Posted by
Matan Magril
LivePerson Contributor
Monday, September 16, 2013 - 15:30

In today’s marketplace, where every single customer interaction counts, the online customer community is one of the most powerful tools businesses can have in their arsenal. Customers, whether loyal or casual, are constantly on the lookout for a venue to voice their opinions, stories, and experiences with brands. Just as they did during the Social Media shift of the last decade, businesses must now integrate meaningful customer engagement via community ecosystems solely designated towards meaningful customer connections.    

Here are 3 reasons why having an active customer community is a key component for forward thinking companies:

1. Insights

Communities serve as an open digital setting for customers to share feedback, express ideas, and talk about the experience they’ve had with your product or service. Businesses can also take a preemptive approach by directly requesting that community members share their thoughts on specific initiatives and efficiently change course, if necessary, to better serve their client needs. The major difference between gathering insight via community and other channels is the instantaneous nature associated with it. Whether it’s for crowdsourcing product ideas or testing potential content for a marketing campaign, an active community yields key customer insight in a matter of hours. Neither focus groups nor social media based insight campaigns can provide such a quick and cost effective turn around.

Dell’s IdeaStorm is the epitome of scalable community based insight. Dell has opened up every aspect of its operation to end users who in turn provide powerful and original concepts which are later adopted by the company. Dell has gone even further by entrusting its community to decide which ideas should be explored further by employing a simple voting mechanism.    

2. Advocacy

Online communities have emerged as the ideal environment for nurturing existing customer relationships and turning casual clients into brand “super fans.” Because of their ongoing, broadcast type communication structures, communities now allow companies to maintain close relationships with customers at a larger scale than traditional CRM communications channels. By providing exclusive content, spotlighting and rewarding active members, and rallying members behind a common cause, companies can now harness the power of advocacy with greater ease. These community champions will in turn spread positive word of mouth for the brand both within the community and outside of it, resulting in sales opportunities and increased brand awareness.

Evernote has taken advocacy creation to the next level within its community. By designating power users as “Evernote Ambassadors,” the company both spotlights and leverages the incredible product knowledge these committed community members possess. 

3. Online to Offline Activation

Powerful online communities allow companies to extend the life of an event during all 3 stages:

  • Generate buzz and crowdsource agendas before the event
  • Capture user generated content during the event
  • Keep the conversation going long after the physical gathering is finished

Communities also allow for attendees to connect before the actual event takes place, eliminating “ice breaker” moments during the function, and continue connecting with peers they’ve met, after the event. These community attributes can, at the end of the day, increase the ROI of offline activities directed towards client bases.

LivePerson has been employing event centric communities for everything from road shows to Aspire, our primary global gathering. This has resulted in increased registration as well as a more engaging event program.

In order for these three benefits to become a reality, companies should be looking for ways to interact with their customers in a way that demonstrates real value. Customers don’t want unsolicited content, they want relevant information.  This is where online communities shine; they allow businesses to personalize customer experiences while being more meaningful and genuine in their approach.

Stay tuned for the 2nd part of this blog series which will highlight LivePerson’s utilization of community via our Connect platform.

Related post: Six Reasons Why Your Business Should Have an Employee Community

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