How to Use Community for a Better Customer Experience
Posted by Guest Author on September 10, 2013 in Branding, Business Management, Business Start Up Advice [ 2 Comments ]
Customer experience is a phrase you’ve probably heard thrown around lately. It’s a result of the new social business landscape, where your customers expect to have access to anyone in your company, whenever they feel like reaching out, on whichever medium they prefer.
Customer experience is the sum of the interactions a customer has with your company—when they contact your support team, Tweet feedback at your CEO, or have conversations in your community with fellow customers. It’s your job to make sure each touch point is positive by ensuring that your team is:
- Responsive in a timely manner
- Transparent and honest
- Friendly and conversational (no jargon!)
- Engaging and fun (when appropriate)
By ensuring that every interaction you have with customers can be categorized by the adjectives above, you’re providing an excellent customer experience. This lays the foundation for repeat business, which may explain why customer experience leaders outperform the S&P 500 by 28.5%.
When your company has earned the reputation of being fun, efficient, and reliable, customers come back (and tell their friends about you, too). The key word here is “earned.” You can’t buy or beg your way to a good customer experience—you have to earn it by hiring the right people, implementing effective processes, and selecting technologies that help you deliver on your values.
A customer community is an online space for consumers to connect with companies and their customers around their products and services. Community is a linchpin for a strong customer experience strategy because it’s where customers want to connect with businesses. The context is right for that type of conversation—they’re already expecting to discuss your products and brand, not interact with friends (Facebook), develop professionally (LinkedIn), gather real-time information (Twitter), or be visually stimulated (Pinterest and Instagram).
Your prospective and current customers don’t just want to speak to your support lead or marketing manager—they want to talk to people like themselves who have experiences with your brand. That’s where the truly relevant, trustworthy content comes from, and that’s the information that helps them make purchase decisions.
Is there a risk that not all the content in your community will be positive? Of course. But the days of hiding from negative online feedback are long gone. Listening to this feedback, addressing it, and doing what you can to make it right are the signs of true customer experience leaders.
It’s your job to open the door to your customers to engage in honest conversations with you and their peers. Provide them with a community and place entry points all over your website, social channels, and customer communications to extend the invitation. Pay attention to what they say, and provide helpful information, issue resolution, or a sweet or funny response when you can.
Yes, honest, transparent engagement can be scary to businesses because it implies embracing a loss of control. But isn’t that true of any relationship? And relationships are at the core of all repeat business.
How is your company providing a better customer experience? Let us know in the comment section below!
About the Author: Hanna Johnson is the Marketing Manager for Get Satisfaction, a customer community platform that helps customer-centric organizations engage millions of consumers in meaningful conversations about their products and services, every day. When she’s not in their San Francisco office, she enjoys traveling, a good sports game, and nourishing her inner politics nerd.
(Image: suphakit73 via freedigitalphotos.net)