CEOs are special people.
The good ones do more listening than talking. However, when they are listening, they are always weighing what they are hearing against all of the other company strategies and objectives.
Even when your CEO is outwardly listening intently, you know that the little CEO-wheels in their head arefiguring out how what you are saying fits into the company's overall goals.
You see the revenue and customer satisfaction implications of engaging your customer community. Why not help your CEO out by highlighting specifically how your user group and online user community are going to tie into larger corporate goals.
To help you build your business case, here are four reasons (that your CEO will love) to create a user group community:
Reason #1) Thriving User Groups Differentiate Your Company
Your CEO knows that customer acquisition and retention suffer when customers can't see a difference between your product and other solutions in the market. When a prospect is deciding between two companies that have similar solutions, the company that has the active user group has an advantage over the solution provider that is only offering their product.
Highlight the strength of your user group during the sales process to stand out from the competition. User groups are a relatively low-cost "feature" of your solution that both provides social proof of your customers' success and mitigates the risk of doing business with you because customers have an always-on user community to rely upon. While competitors are always adding new features and services, that level of differentiation that a reliable user community delivers is difficult to replicate.
Reason #2) User Groups Add Customer Support Coverage
It is a perfect storm that frustrates many CEOs of business-to-business companies. You are trying to control customer support costs, your products is getting more complex as you solve more problems for more customers, and at the same time, customers' expectations for availability of support and responsiveness are rising.
Since your customer service team can't be everywhere at once, online user communities provide an "always-there support safety net" where users will be able to find experts and get answers on their schedules.
While the cost savings differs from company to company, active online communities provide a first line of support that can take care of many customers' questions before they reach your customer service team. Customers can get specific help from other users and product experts, as well as find answers from the ever-growing archive of answered questions, past discussions, and product documentation.
Reason #3 User Groups Enable Better Listening to Avoid Product and Marketing Misses
You can bet that you executive team is looking at the next year and thinking, "What are can we do to create more profitable products for our market?" User groups enable companies to have a better access to market data and create consistent feedback loops during the product development process.
Both marketers and product managers can test concepts, positioning, and messages with customers throughout the product lifecycle. The result? Products and services that better solve the problems that your customers are willing to pay to have solved. CEO translation = more profit.
Reason #4) User Groups Increase Customer Retention
Both users in the trenches and executives at customer companies are most happy with your products when they are used to successfully meet their business objectives. User groups exist to help users find more success with a certain set of products or services. Without an online user community, companies have limited insight into customer satisfaction, and as a result, customer retention, until it is too late.
User communities enable businesses to profile and be alerted to customers that are struggling, seeking specific information, and not engaged before the customers is too far down the road toward ending the relationship.
User Group Takeaway
Your CEO is the primary caretaker of your company's current and future bottom line. However, there are a lot of ways to impact your business's financials - from reducing costs to increasing sales to improving products.
Many companies are finding that investing in user groups and their supporting online user communities is a relatively low-cost way to consistently deliver value in all of those areas and much more. When getting executive buy-in for your online user community, you can score big points and a resounding go-ahead by highlighting the measurable business-level impact of user communities.