At you next customer conference or membership meeting, take an informal poll asking people why they do business with you? The data that you gather will be gold to your marketing, membership, and product management teams. While you'll hear answers across a broad spectrum, but they will most likely have this theme in common:
We do business with you (or join your organization) because you uniquely solve a problem that we are willing to pay to have solved.
Business development and marketing people are highly skilled at zeroing in on the this theme and keeping the conversation about the prospect's problems. However, many organizations lose this alignment once the sale is closed, resulting in drops in customer satisfaction and eventual decreases in retention.
Customers and members have low expectations of what they get from their vendors or the membership organizations they belong to. This wasn't always the case. They have just been disappointed so many times after being thrown into the "customer pile" after being enchanted during the buying process.
This is your organization's opportunity to stand out. Here are the three ways that you can improve customer satisfaction using an online customer or member community:
Your community is part of your organization's unique value proposition. If your customers or members can get their problems solved elsewhere, the value of your offering and organization is greatly diminished. Create an online community that provides members-only access to people, advice, product answers, and industry information that they wouldn't get if they stopped doing business with you.
Continually highlight real value to your customers or members. Use the variety of engagement features and automated communication tools built into your private online community platform to keep customers aware of the helpful information available in your community. You can easily segment your email communication and social features to make sure that you are only driving customers and members to relevant information.
Get a 360 degree view of what each customer or member wants. Just as you want to know when you have a strong advocate on your hands, you should know when a customer or member is unhappy before they voice their frustration publically. As priorities shift for customers and for your industry, the analytics in your online community software will give you the opportunity to produce educational materials, communication, and positions that maintain your status as an indispensable resource for your target audience.
By using your private online community to continually focus on and support your customer's most urgent and pervasive problems, your organization will differentiate itself, stay closer to your customers, and recognize potential customer losses much earlier. I see it happen every day!