How do you know what your customers or members are really thinking? That quest is easier than ever with the advent of social media, open online review sites and the rise of online communities. Customers’ and members’ voices are louder, easier to find and responsible for making organizations a lot more human.
Customers and members have always been talking, but organizations haven’t always made a point to listen. The customer or member’s role in an organization is rapidly expanding. This collective Voice of the Customer (VoC) may hold the key to revamping and innovating business decisions.
Every organization needs to remember: you’re nothing without your community. Whether it’s customers applauding, complaining or anticipating the latest product, or members of an industry trying to connect and affect a positive change, it’s the people who power what’s next. How do we know if our organization’s communities and social outreach are working to humanize our brand and build better collaboration?
Here are a few reminders of how your community can humanize your organization (trust us – it’s a good thing).
It takes more than just one survey to figure out why customers or members stick around. By offering the means to communicate with one another and provide unbiased feedback, an organization will see customers and members shift from basic consumers to brand advocates.
Get to know everyone better in your community – it’s the best tool to voice needs and wants simultaneously. Then leverage these online conversations with additional tools (like your surveys) to better understand who they interact with and why. Make sure your community discussions and online events foster a collaborative and supportive environment, so community users continue to speak up.
One of our favorite examples of leveraging customer conversations for better retention and loyalty is HubSpot. The marketing automation software company gains insight on what customers need by putting an ear to the ground and listening to them. It achieves this on multiple levels: an online community, online and offline engagement channels, effective customer feedback initiatives and a vast library of resources created specifically for the customer, its most important person in the company.
Gartner Group’s recent study showed that 88 percent of customers said buying decisions were influenced by product/service reviews from user-generated content. Does your community enable enough crowd-sourced content for users to find and give opinions?
Allow customers or members to exchange ideas and best practices constantly, not just when it’s convenient for the organization. Communities serve as a guide for crowd-sourced innovation. So put that co-creation into practice, whether it’s an informal forum or group within the community or a larger product advisory council.
Organizations know that charitable donations, partnerships and just giving back should extend beyond the holiday season. People are inspired and empowered to support organizations that promote a greater good. Even if that effort is the basic exchange of information and resources, organizations do well to promote open communication with customers, members and prospects.
And with the advent of online communities comes a greater confluence of different generations and opinions. Edelman Public Relations' recent survey results said nine-in-ten Millennial respondents take action weekly on behalf of a brand. Imagine if your customers and members offered weekly feedback on your organization – the community is the ideal platform for encouraging knowledge sharing for the greater good.
Every community’s over-arching theme should be its people – what do your customers and members care about, and how are you taking action to help them express their concerns and ideas?