Most of us at some point have heard someone utter the phrase, “it takes a village.” It’s used in a variety of situations from child rearing, to setting up a business. At its core the message behind the phrase is that some things require the help of multiple people.
In the world of software we talk about user-centric design and creating a frictionless experience. There are tools and resources to help people get acquainted with a product and even have success using it. Though all those tools certainly are useful, to really master a product and get a true understanding of not only how it works, but how it can work for you it takes, well, a village.
If you’re a company with an online community, guess what? That’s the village. We’ve covered how having an online community can benefit your business, but communities are hardly just a resource to enrich a company. At their core, their truest purpose is to enrich the customer experience (CX).
In this article we cover three ways your online community can improve your customer’s experience.
Increased access (for everyone)
A lot of the time when you read a pitch as to why you should invest in an online community one of the top reasons is that it gives businesses a new level of access to customers. And, that’s a very good reason to invest in an online community.
For example, if you’re a marketing professional looking for customers to interview for a customer story, or other testimonial, having an online community can help you find those brand advocates much easier. But it’s a two-way street.
When companies are looking to source new ideas, or find people to test out new potential features, it’s fairly common for them to turn to their online communities. That gives customers the ability to share more detailed feedback, and even possibly have input in how a product progresses and evolves.
In a recent blog post, we discussed the importance of community feedback and how much your customers appreciate it: 88% of buyers agreed with the statement that: "I appreciate companies that provide a shared space for customers to provide feedback and share experiences."
Building a space that enables people to share the value they find, the new features they need, or general insight into how they use their product can massively improve your CX.
A variety of perspectives
Most products have a variety of use cases. Depending on the role someone has or project they’re working on they may be looking for out-of-the-box ideas on how to accomplish their goals. Or, they may have a standard use but want to optimize it for their specific use.
Being part of an online community gives them access to that wealth of knowledge and also can help open up new conversations to find new solutions. Having that resource can help a customer get more value out of your product, or have a faster time to value (TTV). Both of which help improve the overall experience of using a product.
You could even seek out places where people are talking about innovative things they’re doing, or different disciplines they’re using your product for. That way you can better surface those conversations and make them easier for others to join in on.
Similar to having access to a variety of perspectives, online communities also offer another resource for customers to turn to if they have an issue using your product. Though most companies have support staff, there may be hours they’re not available, or they may have a question they’re not comfortable asking. An online community can help fill those gaps.
The option to self-serve is no longer a 'nice-to-have' for organizations. 79% of customers say they expect organizations to provide self-service support tools to help customers find answers without having to contact support. If you want to improve your CX offering, a self-service option is a necessity.
An online community is an excellent way to provide self-service, reduce your number of support tickets and improve time to resolution; All of which positively impact your CX.
Connection and engagement
We all want to belong. Though in years past people may have questioned how much an online community can serve that purpose, it’s clear in the modern world that they absolutely can. Online communities serve as a space for people to connect over a shared interest and to meet others who feel the same.
It doesn’t have to be limited to discussion about your product either. You can set up areas where people with similar professional, or geographic backgrounds can chat. Some even use online communities as a way to set up in-person meet ups.
Being able to be excited about something with others who are also excited about the same thing can be very profound and fulfilling and it’s important that we facilitate those types of interactions, too.
Offering your customers value beyond your product helps to build intrinsic value around your brand while simultaneously improving your CX.
A customer of ours, Xometry, used their online community to enhance their offline business by building a networking space for people in their industry. It has not only bolstered their business but it has greatly improved NPS and created a level of engagement that they've never seen before.
Creating the best experience possible for your customers takes a village. Having an online community gives your customers access to the village they need and allows them to learn from a variety of perspectives and derive even more value from your product.
Make sure you’re actively cultivating those spaces for customers so they’re able to thrive. Remember, when your customers succeed, so does your business.
Our free CX Whitepaper further details how an online community can improve your CX exponentially. Download it here!