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The Evolution of Community and the Customer Experience

Written by Mark Lowry on October 22, 2014 at 10:30 AM

Forward thinking organizations are moving away from traditional help desk models. No longer do customers need to sit and wait for an automated support queue - they can and should expect real-time responses. An integrated service model for customers, including a support portal, social media engagement and an online community, can provide faster response times and give customers and members the option as to how they interact with the organization. In addition, the idea of crowd sourcing content for a robust knowledge base from your best experts, your customers, has taken hold.

Empower Your Customers

The new best practice is to empower your customers and members by providing multiple channels for them to find and share the best solutions to their questions and issues. Reliable customer support systems seamlessly integrated with customer communities can help you accomplish those goals.

An online customer support system can give customers the flexibility they want, and its features don't adhere to strict schedules. Customers log in and receive 24/7 support, with social media integrated and discussions with other customers at their fingertips. Access live chat functions for time-sensitive questions. Peruse the self-service knowledge base to learn about what other customers have asked and shared. Utilize a responsive call ticket system when you can't find the exact answer. All components work together to diffuse inbound calls, reduce customer frustrations, and save organizations money.

Enable Relevant, Purposeful Interactions

How does an online community help? To further enhance the strengths of an online service system, organizations are inlaying online communities that can stimulate crowd sourced customer support and build a rich knowledge base. According to the Gartner report, "Predicts 2012: CRM Customer Service and Support Staggers into the Posthuman Age," companies can save anywhere from 10 to 50 percent in support costs by integrating a community into customer support. Finding the right answer may be as easy as asking a question to other customers, or searching the knowledge base built by those same customers.

The user experience should become a seamless one with this integrated model. Customers can have social and flexible interactions every step of the way, searching and starting discussion threads, recommending others' content and even submit comments and documents to the knowledge base. This is sourced and vetted by community peers. When a customer's situation is unique and they cannot find answers, a support system can step in with staff already up to speed on the issue. Problem solved - no automated phone call prompts or frustrating hold music necessary.

Ignite Knowledge Sharing

Customer communities and engagement solutions together are important for how organizations work with, relate to and support their customers. The true strength of customer care is to offer an experience that integrates and understands the benefits of both a support system and community engagement. This solution is good for all involved: improved performance, more customer service intelligence, increased customer satisfaction and understanding of user needs, and a maximum return on investment for the organization.

Customers are more social and tech-savvy than ever before, and want to take advantage of their products' capabilities. They are reaching out for content, and it's important to keep an expanding knowledge base current, easily accessible and relevant.

Topics: Customer Communities, Customer Engagement, Customer Experience, Online Community

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