I recently had the pleasure of joining a few dozen members of one of our customer organizations for a tour of Washington DC. It was wonderful evening filled with good people, fun facts, and great product feedback. I love talking to people in our market – customers and non-customers. In my experience, the answers to how we can continue to meet the needs of businesses and membership organizations are going to come from outside our building.
As I spoke with members of this software user group, they spoke of the real problems that an active online community is solving for their customers. I heard about how important it is to have a system that delivers information and access to discussions online, via email listservs, and through mobile apps. Some organizations are very email centric, while others are logged into the online community website all day. Preferences even differ within an organization from department to departmenr or person to person. I heard about how some customers have given online community access to both technical and business users so that business users can find answers and engage the community just as easily as their IT staff – without having to go through the IT department.
Most importantly, listening to these organizations, which ranged in size from about 500-10,000 employees, recount tales of how the community and easy access to experts and information is solving really problems reminded me that online communities for business are still about people.
Online communities for business are about finding answers quickly so that you can get home in time to have dinner with your family.
Online customer communities are about making products and services human by coupling the technology with an army of people who share in each other's success.
Business online communities are about having a support system where a customer community helps you avoid working weekends so that you can attend your kid's soccer games.
Online community is about bringing passionate people together to laugh and learn on a bus tour of the District of Columbia.