Improve Your Customer Experience with Online Communities

Community Building

Customer expectations today are higher than ever before. In the modern world where it’s so easy for customers to switch over to a competitor, you’ll want to differentiate your brand not just based on product or service, but with a winning customer experience (CX) as well.

The stakes around CX are incredibly high, that a single negative experience can rob you of a customer for life and potentially damage your reputation. Why? Because customers who are upset are much more likely to talk about it, leave a bad review, and share their experience with their entire network.

That’s why growth strategies today are all about improving customer experience across all touchpoints. The best marketing money can buy is a customer who will advocate your business for free — someone who's loyal to your company, elevates your business through word-of-mouth, and champions your brand to other potential customers. But how exactly do you turn customers to be like that? A good way to do this is to build a community where they can talk to your brand and to each other in a non-intrusive, transparent, and conversational way.

Online communities give people a place to ask questions, form peer-to-peer connections, and belong to a bigger group. In this post, we’re gonna talk about how you can take advantage of those benefits to improve your customer experience and win lifelong customers.

Communities humanize interaction

When was the last time that a brand interaction impressed you? Maybe a company answered your question quickly or accommodated you in a way that made you feel heard. These experiences stand out to us because personal and relatable customer experiences are rare these days.

People don’t connect with corporations, they connect with other people — and communities give them a place to do that. Online communities are a powerful source of brand advocacy because they tap into the social needs of customers, and humanize interactions with businesses. More than just buying a product or a service, people are interested in forming connections with the brands they choose to support and their community of customers.

Communities improve engagement

There is nothing more powerful than involving your customers in the development, promotion, and success of your business. Building an online community brings all your leads, users, previous customers, ambassadors, and partners into one place — making it a powerful way to engage stakeholders and keep your brand top of mind.

Consider doing events, user groups, beta programs, focus group discussions, customer feedback, affiliate marketing, and advocacy programs. This will help you design a business that meets customer needs, while also strengthening your relationship with customers, increasing their loyalty, and getting repeat business.

Communities scale your support capacity

Imagine encountering an issue with a product, and all you can find is a website filled with irrelevant support documents or automated replies from chatbots. While self-service tools are very important, it can be seriously frustrating not knowing where and who to reach out to when you feel these resources aren’t enough.

Online communities improve customer support and let you scale operations by providing a place where customers can get help from a wider audience. Not only does this encourage user-to-user support, but it also helps your customer base connect with your company in a more personal way. Instead of doing a Google search, they can go online and visit a community thread to see if the topic has already been discussed. If not, they can start a new conversation, which will also help others who have the same experience (now or in the future).

Communities provide valuable insight

Far too many companies treat their customers as just numbers in a spreadsheet. Online communities can change that by allowing you to meet and interact with very real people who use your product or service regularly. Through your community, customers can alert you of bugs, give insight into UX, tell you what features they need, and suggest improvements.

The better you know your customers and the more open your interactions are with them, the more insight you'll have on how to best improve their experience. Always grabbing the opportunity to respond and act on their feedback will make sure you build a business that sells and creates value for everyone.

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