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Why Enterprise Organizations Need Community

6 minute read

August 14, 2020

Due to a number of competing strategic priorities, enterprise organizations often have to make difficult decisions regarding where to allocate budget and resources, and assess which areas should be invested in.

This leads to the question—what priorities should enterprise organizations focus on when looking to invest? Are there strategies that can help achieve more than one goal at once? 

Although priorities range from one enterprise to another, a study conducted by Altimeter identifies the most common priorities for enterprise organizations:

  1. Deliver an omni-channel customer experience

  2. Improve existing technologies

  3. Invest in an ecommerce platform

  4. Transform customer service

  5. Boost product innovation

Given these top priorities, we can conclude that there is a strategy that can successfully address more than one of these priorities at once—not only saving enterprise organizations money, but also the difficult task of deciding which areas to invest. The best ways for enterprise organizations to support the achievement of multiple priorities at once is through the implementation of a community platform.

That's because an online community forum can help address three of the five top enterprise priorities at once: it delivers an omni-channel customer experience, it transforms customer service, and it also boosts product innovation. And it does all of these extremely well.

Ultimately, investing in community is a smart decision for enterprise organizations looking to scale while remaining lean. 

In addressing how community can address three of the top enterprise priorities, we'll be looking at an excerpt from our eBook, A Guide to Online Communities for Enterprise Organizations. 

Be sure to check out the entire eBook for everything enterprise organizations need to know about community.

Now, let's dive in.

Community for Enterprise Organizations

Delivers an Omni-Channel Experience

Delivering an omni-channel customer support experience means that organizations must look to adopt a variety of support options, which are commonly accessed through a customer self-service portal—a one-stop-shop where customers can easily locate and use their preferred support method.

But what methods do customers actually want to use when accessing self-support? According to the TSIA, Google is the most preferred support channel. The chart below outlines the most preferred to least preferred support channels.

preferred support channels

Given that Google is the most preferred channel, a good customer self-service portal should be easy to find on Google and contain all the other preferred support channels, such as a knowledge base, chat support and an online community. For many enterprise organizations, an online community serves as the cornerstone of their omni-channel customer experience since it's incredibly scalable, while at the same time, works to cut costs.

Transforms Customer Service

Another top priority of enterprise organizations is to transform customer service—in other words, work to ensure that customer service continues to meet the ever changing and growing demands of customers. These demands can be summed into three overarching themes:

  1. Self-service

  2. Fast and efficient support

  3. A variety of options

Research indicates that customers want self-service above anything else—customers overwhelmingly prefer to troubleshoot their own issues before contacting customer support. In fact, a recent study found that 84% of customers attempt to self-support before turning to contacting customer support.

84% of customers attempt to solve their issues first

The impacts of not delivering on self-service needs can be dire, as studies show that 51% of customers will never do business again with an organization if they've had a negative experience.

Next, getting support fast is incredibly important to customers, which is why phone support is quickly becoming obsolete and one of the least preferred channels for customer service.

When enterprise organizations look to transform their customer services, they should ensure that customers have a variety of different ways to access the support they need. In fact, 59% of customers have reported to have used three or more channels to get their questions answered, so providing options is key. 

Many enterprise organizations who have already implemented a self-service customer portal provide customers with a combination of the following options:

  • Online Community Forums

  • Knowledge Base

  • Chatbots

  • FAQ

  • Help Documentation (wiki articles)

  • How-To Videos

  • Ticketing Service

  • User Manuals

  • Online Chat

  • Social Media

The reason why community is usually the cornerstone of enterprise customer self-service is because over 50% of customers prefer it to be. Online communities are able to host a variety of the self-service options noted above, in addition to being able to draw from the repository of customer knowledge to deliver peer-to-peer support… all the while costing enterprise organizations virtually nothing.

Boosts Product Innovation

Enterprise communities are an excellent tool to drive product and service innovation by leveraging customer ideas and measuring the level of support backing those ideas. In fact, product development and innovation is so common in community, and so highly valued, that it's one of the top three business outcomes connected to having an online community.

In fact, The Community Roundtable has identified the top three business outcomes connected to community as:

  • Customer retention (61%)

  • Lower support costs (52%)

  • Innovation (32%)

The common community function of leveraging customer ideas for innovation is known as ideation, and can happen either organically or if promoted—sometimes even both. Enterprise organizations can present ideas to the community and gather feedback to make informed product decisions, or ideas could be presented by members themselves.

Statistically speaking, most communities have an ideation function specifically designed to collect new and innovative customer ideas—61% of communities are used for this purpose.

The impacts have been substantial. One only needs to look at these statistics:

  • 90% say that suggestions from the community have been used to improve product or service issues 

  • 77% say that the community has helped to identify issues with the product or service 

  • 78% say that the community has been used to help the development of new/future products and services

Getting feedback from the community is one of the best ways to improve existing products and services and inform the development of new ones. That's because the community contains people who care most about the brand.

Concluding Thought

While enterprise organizations need community to successfully scale operations while remaining lean, this isn't the only reason why enterprise organizations need community.

Community also helps to address the top challenges facing enterprise organizations. This includes things like:

  • Scaling without compromising customer experience

  • Increasing sales without spending too much

  • Maintaining a high level of customer service standards across all product lines and global locations, without language barriers 

  • Ensuring brand voice and messaging gets heard, regardless of a customer’s language and location 

  • Staying on top of product issues and bugs for all product lines

To learn more about online communities for enterprise organizations, be sure to download our free eBook, A Guide to Online Communities for Enterprise Organizations. 

Community for Enterprise Organizations

 

Community

Sarah Robinson-Yu

Written by Sarah Robinson-Yu

Sarah is the Content Marketing Specialist at Vanilla Forums. Prior to Vanilla, Sarah worked in the public sector where she led and coordinated the strategic framework and operational policy development of business processes.

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