If you think about it,
online customer support has been
around since the advent of the web. When social media came around, it placed a
megaphone into the hands of customers. Now, you could tweet your displeasure
over that uncooked steak and the restaurant (and many others) would
know about it.
Savvy brands caught on to this trend and began to
proactively listen to what customers were saying on social media. After hearing
their issues, they’d follow up promptly and seek resolution of these issues.
Then came branded, online support communities, which allowed organizations to
complement their social media interactions with an environment that they
managed and maintained.
Online support communities have a number of benefits, not
the least of which is the ability to
own and manage the underlying data. Now,
you can track customer service trends (e.g. which product models are causing
the most bug reports) and have a much richer understanding of your customers
(e.g. Joe Smith has frequent issues with your latest product feature, so the
next time he calls, make sure you’re sensitive to whether he’s having the same
23 Benefits of Online Support Communities
My childhood hero is
Don Mattingly, former New
York Yankee first baseman and currently the manager of the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Also known as Donnie Baseball, Mattingly wore #23 for the Yankees (although the
since been retired).
So in honor of #23 from my favorite baseball team, I give
you 23 benefits of online support communities.
- Data in your privately branded online support
community is your’s. A third party social network does not own and control that
data. You do.
- Resolutions in your online support community are
there for everyone to see.
- It’s easy for customers to search for issues and
find documented resolutions. Try doing this on social media.
- Issues NOT resolved in your support community
stick out like a sore thumb. This helps
motivate your Customer Success Team to
find a resolution.
- Search engines love the user generated content
in your online support community. They’ll add it to their search index hours
(or minutes) after the content is published.
- As customers find their issues resolved and
their questions answered, they’ll become happier. Some will return to the
community, for the express purpose of helping others.
- As prospects research your organization’s
products and services,
content from your customer community will appear in
search results. This helps to advance the sales cycle.
- Customers (or prospects) prefer to hear from
their peers (other customers or prospects). Your online support community
enables this peer exchange.
- When product questions (and issues) are resolved
among the customer community (without the involvement of the brand), customers
and prospects notice.
- Online support communities are a real-time,
constantly updated FAQ
(Frequently Asked Questions document).
- As customers support each other, your Customer
Success Team has more time to spot trends and provide feedback to your Product
Team to help inform the product roadmap.
- As customers interact with members of the
Customer Success Team, you’re able to build and maintain a rich profile of
their product usage and challenges faced. This provides a comprehensive “view
of the customer” to inform future support calls into your team.
- You get to discover customers (or customer
contacts) you didn’t even know you had.
- Your Marketing team loves customer case studies.
Your customer community helps you discover customer stories that the Marketing
team can tell to the world.
- Your Marketing team does a lot of content
marketing. Your customer community seeds their content marketing editorial
schedule with ideas and topics. If a topic concerns your customers, then use
this insight to hit the bullseye with your content.
- Product management loves to hear input about
their products. Invite them to listen (and participate!) in your customer
community. They’ll love it.
- Your customer community gives your brand
advocates vehicles for intrinsic rewards: authority and reputation among their
peers. And of course, they also receive long-standing love and admiration from
- Online support communities never close.
- The easiest customer question to resolve is the
one that’s never asked. The content in your customer community is a one-“person,”
self-answering machine. That’s right, your customer community
should be named
- As users do research on the web, your customer
community content may appear in search results. You can generate sales leads
that you otherwise would never have seen.
- Your online support community enables you to
turn complaints into compliments.
- The quicker customers have their issues
resolved, the greater their long term value to your organization.
- Your online support community gives customers
the tools they need to find the right answers to their questions.
Our Webinar About Online Support Communities
Recently, we presented a webinar that featured guest
speaker Kate Leggett, Principal Analyst at Forrester Research. The webinar is titled “How Online Support
Communities Can Lead to Customer Experience Excellence.”
View the webinar on
our BrightTALK channel.