We humans, by nature, are social animals. We thrive when surrounded by others, and these interactions allow us to learn and grow as people.
Like humans, businesses cannot thrive alone. For one, they need people to buy their products, and second, they need customers who trust the brand and come back again and again. This is the only way for businesses to grow, sustain, and scale.
With today’s technological advancements, even an individual can build a great minimum viable product (MVP). But building is just the initial part of the process. Growing and scaling the platform comes later. One cannot do that alone.
This is where communities buttress businesses. Community is the catalyst that helps brands cross the threshold and speed up the growing and scaling stages. What’s more, this is just one of the benefits businesses can reap from communities.
In this article, we’ll discuss the many benefits with additional emphasis on how nurturing a community can help businesses improve their customer experience.
What is a customer community?
A customer community is a group of dedicated users of any product, service, or application. Customer community users' are deeply interested in the brand and would like to associate themselves with all of the brand’s activities.
We have shown a glimpse of what communities can do for businesses in the introduction. Before we discuss more, let’s detour to understand why communities are needed in our challenging business environment.
Challenges businesses face today
There are many challenges businesses face today, but we’ll consider three formidable ones that every business dreads.
1) Capturing customer attention
As Dan Gingiss¹ clearly put it, we no longer compete with companies offering similar products or services. Rather, the competition is now with every business interaction our customers have.
Because every business is fighting the crowded market to attract and retain customers by offering the best customer experience, people expect better or at least the same experience from every brand they interact with. Now everyone is scrambling to raise their standards to stay in business.
Let’s be frank about one thing. Not all of your customers are going to stay with you forever. As retaining customers is five to 10 times cheaper than acquiring new customers, it is vital to keep churn in check. If you’d like to learn more about churn and how to reduce it, check out our in-depth webinar on reducing and retaining your customers.
3) Becoming irrelevant to customers
In this age of fast transitions, it’s a big challenge for brands to keep up with what the users want, as customer mindsets and trends keep changing.
How community building helps businesses tackle these challenges
Communities don’t directly contribute to the factors that help businesses face challenges. They do, however, offer many benefits, which create a domino effect that helps brands tackle these difficulties.
What are such benefits that communities offer?
Benefits of community
Collaboration between various stakeholders
Community is where people from various domains meet, and having a fresh set of eyes on your roadmap, feature updates, or even design tweaks gets you constructive feedback you can use to refine your approach.
When you build a community of customers, you can ask them to give you feedback regarding what they expect from you. Don’t assume. Always ask, as everyone’s needs will be different.
Needless to say, the collaboration will help you expand your network and bring people from various domains into your circle. Businesses can reap the benefits of connecting via their community in a world where net worth is calculated by network. It’s not just about a single instance of networking. The more you network, the greater your network
Expanded brand awareness
Let’s take the example of Notion. Fundamentally, Notion is just a note-taking application. But the way the company started engaging with its community should be a case study for marketers.
The user-generated content (UGC) of the various Notion templates was created and distributed wildly on social platforms. Dedicated users took it upon themselves to share the value of the product they love.
When you have a great product and engage your community effectively, you’ll be able to harvest the same results.
A sense of shared accountability
Like how our family and friends keep us accountable in our personal lives, communities help businesses stay true to their word. You can consider it as a checks and balances system. It creates shared accountability so businesses remain consistent.
Reputation and trust
With the universal use of social media, users who love your products aren’t likely to keep that information to themselves. They usually want to share the product they’ve found with their connections.
Prospects are more likely to believe reviews from their network over what the brands advertise about themselves. A user’s comments about your product on social media will help you earn a positive reputation and greater trust.
Inspiration for new ideas
In our Zoho SalesIQ community, we interact with our users regularly to understand if they’re interested in any new features. Our recent feature launch, Autopilot, was a request made by our community of dedicated users. We offer two bots for our customers, Answer Bot and Zobot, and our SalesIQ community suggested combining both to enhance the product’s versatility. We took their suggestion, developed the feature, and released it on the platform. For that feature, we got a great response from our community.
Elevated customer service
Your dedicated users will let you know what you’re doing right and where you can improve. If you implement their suggestions when updating your product, you’ll be able to satisfy your community.
Satisfying your existing users will increase overall customer satisfaction, encouraging them to stay with your business and decreasing churn in the long run.
Those happy customers will spread the news about your product and help attract new users. This results in lower customer acquisition costs.
Reduced cost of service
A community forum or group of any kind is a goldmine of data where users can find almost everything about the product. They can find answers to all their questions, as well as learn shortcuts, best practices, productivity hacks, and other workarounds. There is so much to gain from a community forum.
If customers had to contact the support team for every single query, it’d increase the cost of service for the product team. With readily-available support and insight from the community, businesses can minimize the cost of service.
One way or another, these benefits of community come together and create an engagement pathway that helps brands serve their customers well and manage the dreaded threats.
How community building can improve customer experience
If you’re not familiar with the basics of customer experience, we recommend going through our domain insights, where we’ve extensively covered customer experience and customer engagement. We’ve also covered the difference between customer experience and customer engagement.
In simple terms, customer experience is how your customers feel when they see, understand, and interact with your product. Your customers’ overall experience with your product determines if they’d stay with your product and advocate for your brand, or if they’d choose to avoid your platform.
Nurturing a great community thus helps you create a flawless customer experience that your competitors will envy.
1. Communities let you learn what your existing users actually want. Instead of assuming, you can rely on them for good data that helps you refine your offerings and improve the overall customer experience.
2. When invested in the product, communities will give honest feedback on any current or potential products. You can use their input to understand at what touchpoint they are getting frustrated and what you can do to improve that layout.
3. Customer support teams play a significant role in the overall customer experience. Your customers often spend more time with them than with any other department. When you face a massive volume of support tickets and only have a small support team, it irritates your customers. They end up feeling that they’re not being treated appropriately even after spending a good amount of time and money with you. When you have an active community, it takes a heavy load off your support teams, as the community itself can answer fellow user questions. This then increases the user’s overall satisfaction with your product.
4. Even during your pre-sales and sales phases, your community can give you a hand in improving the customer experience. Testimonials play an important role in moving the needle towards a “yes” from a new lead. If the lead can relate to a fellow user’s testimonial, they’ll be more likely to choose the product. It also gives them a good impression even before they become a customer.
If you’re interested in learning more about community and how it can enhance your customer experience, we highly recommend checking out our community-building webinar below.
1. Here’s Why Your Competition For Customer Experience Is Amazon And Everyone Else. Retrieved October 12, 2022 from https://www.forbes.com/sites/dangingiss/2018/08/13/heres-why-your-competition-for-customer-experience-is-amazon-and-everyone-else/?sh=71a142a26a80