For some customers, engagement is not the golden ticket that you think it is.
Both business professionals and consumers are busier and more frazzled than ever. They don't have time to engage on your terms. Chances are that your target audience wants help with the task at hand and then wants to move on. How can this bit of information have a significant impact on your business or membership organization?
A Little Customer-Centric Thinking Can Go A Long Way
According to a 2012 Corporate Executive Board study, customers value a simple customer experience over being engaged. Companies that focus on simplifying the customer experience and purchasing process have customers who are 86% more likely to purchase their products and 115% more likely to recommend their brand to others.
When it comes to customer retention and brand advocacy, the survey indicates that a 20% increase in simplifying the customer experience results in a 96% increase in a customer's likelihood to purchase, re-purchase, or recommend a particular brand.
As more and more companies develop online customer communities to engage prospects and customers, it is important to place a premium on keeping the customer experience simple and straightforward.
How to Improve Your Customers' Experience
Here are 5 ways to improve your customers' experiences in your online community:
#1) Make Your Online Community Your Central Customer Hub
Don't confuse your customers or members by sending them to different places on your website, community, and public social networks to get different types of information. Increase adoption and the value of your online customer community by making it the central hub of your customer communication ecosystem.
#2) Don't Make Customers Work to Participate
Your customers have jobs, bosses, families, and goals. They don't have time to engage in ways they are not important to their day. A low barrier to participation is critical to a positive social customer experience.
Avoid making customers and prospects engage or contribute at a higher level than they need to in order to get value from your community. If they find your online customer community helpful, they'll come back and increase their level of engagement over time.
#3) Empower Customers That Want to Take Action
There is a flip side to #2 (above). Some customers and prospects want to engage at a high level to find answers, make industry connections, or build a personal brand. It is important to recognize those individuals and nurture their interest in your organization.
Make it easy to emerge as a leader in the community by loosening up certain control, asking for their feedback and help, or testing them out in a volunteer leadership position within the community, such as a committee member or customer advisory group organizer.
#4) Segment and Personalize
Nothing kills your customer experience more than talking over and around your customers. Your customers don't have time to try and understand information that is presented to them and how it related to their lives. They also have little patience for digging for information, especially if they come up empty handed. Use the segmentation tools in your online community to ensure that each customer only sees relevant information and can easily find answers when they need them.
#5) Test and Re-Test the User Experience
Online customer communities rally a lot of passion and enthusiasm within an organization. With this excitement comes a certain degree of closeness to the project, which can lead to blinders when it comes to user experience.
In Socious' experience, it helps to build in user testing with customers throughout the community's lifecycle. To keeps your social engagement activity human, you can set up a small table with a laptop at a conference, call on a chapter leader to document their experience completing common tasks in your online community, or ask for volunteers from your customer or prospects pool to conduct quick online testing.
Online Customer Community Takeaway
In your customers' eyes, your online customer community can be a force for good or another task heaped on their to-do list.
Some elements of creating a positive customer experience relate to the online community platform you select. For instance, choosing online community software with a powerful search engine can cut down on the steps customers and prospects need to take to find answers. However, others tie back to decisions made in the planning and community management processes.
Keeping your customer's experience in your online customer community simple should be priority throughout the planning, launch, and growth stages. If you can do this, your online customer community can be a tremendous driver of revenue, customer satisfaction, and brand advocacy.