8 Questions to Ask Yourself Before Starting a Customer Community

By Vitaliy Verbenko

community-hands

There was a time when customer communities were seen as unpractical and burdensome.

With the success of social media and mobile users, many brands have since taken the lead with the engagement and growth numbers to prove it. They’ve demonstrated that online communities are more just a convergence and tracking tool for their users.

Picking out and implementing a new platform that fits within your requirements can be a difficult ordeal, never mind accounting for changes in employees and customer behavior over time. To make it easier, we’ve identified things you should pay attention to when selecting your customer community software. Delivering great customer experiences should not be a difficult proposition.

1. Determine what’s in it for the company

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How is your inter-company communication like? How do the development, marketing and sales teams communicate? If customers aren’t adequately involved in these conversations, are you able to benefit them?

  • Start somewhere else first. When you start with a small mailing list or a Facebook group, you can easily test your assumptions and hypotheses before launching a full-scale platform. Look for vendors that offer an extended demo, as well.
  • Embrace changes in communication. Community systems are collaborative and open on some level. Don’t act on the need to control or censor the information and subject matter that users discuss between one another.
  • Be ready to break down business silos. When the product team is able to talk to the support team, everyone can better understand the pain points customers are experiencing.

2. Visualize the customer’s environment

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When coming up with an environment, the last thing you should be doing is combing through long feature checklists. Your customer service software is built for users, so first thing is understanding how you want a user to behave in the community. Here are some of the questions you can ask yourself:

How do you want your customers to interact with your content? Do you want them to vote, comment or respond in a specific way? How will you keep your audience updated of new developments?

When customers land on your community, where should they focus their attention? Nothing screams like an abandoned site than a lack of activity. When a community is constantly and regularly updated, it draws in constantly grows its audience.

3. Look for a flexible and stable platform

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Regardless of what your team’s like (small and agile / structured) you want to something that you can get set up and working easily while flexible enough to accommodate any changes in your organization.

  • Idea lab which permits a way to submit and vote on other ideas
  • Bug and issue tracking with progress and resolution updates
  • Question – answer area for commonly raised questions
  • Knowledge base for more in-depth content

Understand that your company is going to change and so will your community. Pay special attention to the UI and customization options so that newcomers/existing users won’t be put off by the experience as expectations change.

4. Decide how much control you want to relinquish

Our fast-paced world can quickly override the tried-and-tested approach companies are used Go to the full article.

Source:: Business 2 Community

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