Gamification. Loyalty programs. Personal outreach. There are endless ways you could increase customer retention, most of which will probably have a positive impact on your bottom line. But how much impact will they have? If your current programs are only making small improvements, what else can you do to improve retention?
Many brands struggle with this question because, unfortunately, dissatisfied customers are going to leave no matter how good your loyalty program is. To smooth things over with unhappy customers, you need to do more – and your user group may be the key.
User groups help keep your current customers engaged, satisfied, and primed to buy more in three ways.
1. User Groups Help Customers Find Success with Their Current Products or Services
Before customers even think about staying with your company long-term or buying more, they want to be successful with the products they already have. User groups were developed for just that purpose: to help people be successful with what they’ve purchased.
User groups help your customers be more successful by providing:
User groups with a strong online presence offer file libraries where staff, companies, and members can upload helpful documents. Documents can be anything from product specs to how-to videos that help other users resolve problems and use products more effectively.
Peer-to-Peer Customer Support
A user group is a network of people who use the same products and services. They have similar experiences and have tackled similar problems, which makes them ideal people to answer questions or suggest more efficient ways to use products.
Access to Company Experts
Many user groups have a high level of company involvement. Product experts, development specialists, and support representatives can all interact with the user group to answer questions and help customers succeed.
Annual or regional conferences are often the biggest educational opportunities put on by user groups. Groups may also offer webinars and courses via a learning management system to provide year-long education opportunities. As members learn more about their products, they’re more likely to use them effectively and see value in their purchase.
Your customers may feel more comfortable using any one of these support options instead of reaching out directly to your customer service team, because they’re more informal and less time-consuming. If they get the support they need, they’ll be more likely to keep using your products.
2. User Groups Help Customers Solve Problems with New Products and Services
Sometimes customers are frustrated with a problem that their current product can’t solve, which may lead them to look for other solutions. For brands without user groups, this might mean your customers stumble on a competitor.
On the other hand, if a frustrated customer takes their problem to your user group first, they’re more likely to receive recommendations for your products. Maybe one of their peers is using an add-on product that solves their problem and recommends it. You’ve just increased engagement, solved your customer’s problem, and sold another product.
Discussions, recommendations, and product documentation in your user group can greatly increase awareness of your products and services. When customers become more aware of your solutions, they’ll be more likely to use them to solve current pain points and meet emerging needs.
3. User Groups Are a Window into Customer Satisfaction and At-Risk Users
This is the most direct way user groups help you increase customer retention. By monitoring your user group, you get insight into customer satisfaction that helps you identify and reach out to customers who are unhappy and at risk of leaving you.
Start by reviewing discussions. Are customers complaining about one of your products? Are representatives from one of your biggest accounts frustrated with workarounds they need to use?
Reach out to customers who seem unhappy or you think may leave your company. Ask for more details about their problem and what they’re hoping to accomplish with your products, then help them achieve it. Personalized outreach, attention, and support can help get customers back on track so they’re successful with your product and satisfied with your company.
Expert Tip: One of the best ways to track and interact with your user group is with an online community. Online communities provide more engagement opportunities, places for discussions, and event tools. They can also track users’ engagement levels and gather activity data, giving you even more insight into customer satisfaction that helps you reach out to the right customers at the right time.
Keep Current Customers by Increasing Engagement and Being Proactive
User groups are a powerful retention strategy, but to be effective you need to use them correctly.
Make sure your user group has a complete, updated file library with useful product documentation as well as a strong network of peers who can help.
And, regardless of whether your user group is independent or company-owned, don’t be a passive spectator. Get involved early and often. Answer questions, recommend documentation, and provide technical support to users who need it. And when you come across customers who are struggling, reach out to them. Talk through their issues and resolve them before they leave your company.