Today, it is the most effective strategy to boost growth, enhance customer experience, and streamline the work of Customer Success teams.
"Customer Community" is not just a buzzword. Nor is it a passing trend.
In 2023, 80% of companies report that creating a community has had an overall positive impact on their business (Source: State of Community Report, 2023).
But what are the real benefits of a customer community? And how can you create a Customer Community that positively impacts both customers and the company? You've come to the right place to find out. In this article, MeltingSpot puts these questions to rest. Follow the guide!
What is a Customer Community? Definition.
A Customer Community (or community of clients) refers to a group of customers brought together by a company, usually on a digital platform embedded directly into their product or website. Since the Covid-19 crisis, customer communities have predominantly developed online, marking the rise of Customer Community 2.0.
To better understand what a Customer Community is, it's also crucial to emphasize what it is not. No, a community is not "just a helpdesk" (too static), nor "a small chatbot" (too 1:1, lacking a community focus). A Customer Community revolves around a discussion forum and online events that bring a human connection to the relationship.
With a customer community, consumers or users of a solution with similar profiles, shared values, or common interests can come together. They can exchange ideas, help each other, and access documentation in a space created and managed for them by a Customer Success team.
Increasingly, Customer Community falls under the responsibility of the Customer Success team (or Digital Customer Success). Initially managed by marketing, the importance of having a customer-centric team is on the rise. The trend should soon reverse, with a significant majority of communities managed by CSM teams:
Why Develop Your Customer Community? 4 Key Benefits
By becoming a member of a community, the customer is no longer just "a customer." It goes beyond a sales relationship with the company and enters into an human relationship where attachment, mutual assistance, a sense of belonging, and exchange are valued.
This connection that strengthens between the customer, their peers, and the company offers numerous benefits, especially for Customer Success teams. Here are four reasons to develop your Customer Community:
Increase Customer Autonomy and Relieve the Customer Success Team:
Joining a Customer Community allows a customer to be more independent: they have free access to resources, can easily exchange with peers, and find the right information more efficiently. By creating a community, you improve your customer education and empowerment. This benefit has an impact on your teams: the community reduces individual inquiries, replacing them with collective mutual assistance.
Customer success managers (CSMs) can then focus on more complex customer issues or those requiring personalized intervention. They can also focus on community management and customer oversight.
On average, using MeltingSpot, a single CSM can manage about ten times more customer accounts, how efficient!
Reducing Customer Support Costs
What adds most to the cost of customer service, rather than the operations, is the impact of poor customer service delivered by the company (source: Forrester).
The dissatisfaction of each customer, their disengagement, and the impact on your brand image and sales would be a huge loss. But let's be positive and implement better strategies, such as a Customer Community.
A community of customers not only relieves CSM teams but also reduces costs while strengthening the company's growth. Half of the companies with an online community report a reduction of around 50% in support tickets and annual costs reduced by 10% to 25%!
It's a win-win situation: customers no longer need to contact customer service for every question since they can easily find answers (resources and exchanges). The company cuts costs, enabling it to invest primarily in one community tool, rather than in a multitude of channels. And the Customer Success team can focus on community management.
Improving Customer Satisfaction
Today, 57% of customers prefer to interact with a company through digital channels (source: Salesforce, 2022). In fact, 32% view the phone as a frustrating channel, a customer needs to call three times to reach customer service due to lack of availability (Source: ESCDA and BVA studies).
For less frustration and greater satisfaction, leverage the power of communities. Whenever they want, members can access a resource, ask questions, or review webinars. They become more independent, improving their perception of your brand. Finally, they feel considered as real members of the journey, not just another number.
The community also allows customers to express themselves openly, help each other, and enrich the brand experience. It's a golden space to gather customer feedback, product insights, or new ideas. Perfect for enhancing long-term customer experience and satisfaction!
A Customer Community is a growth lever. Beyond encouraging the retention of satisfied customers, it also boosts conversions:
- The community becomes a privileged space to communicate new offers, products, or services.
- Driven by collective dynamics, members are more inclined to make purchases.
- The sales cycle is considerably shortened: on average, a community enables freemium customers to be activated three times faster.
Customer Community speeds up decision-making, boosts cross-sell and upsell sales, and eases repurchase for engaged customers. On average, a community reduces churn rates by 20%. But there's more!
When a customer is involved in a customer community, they become a natural advocate. The bonding experience they share with the company, through the Customer Community, helps them spontaneously recommend the company to their peers. At MeltingSpot, we believe that word of mouth is a powerful growth source!
Customer Success Teams: 3 Tips for Creating Your Customer Community
Customer Communities, often also called Customer Academies, are booming. But before riding the wave, you need to learn how to get on the board.
Here are three tips before you dive into the deep end:
Centralize Content and Interactions in One Place:
In the past, we've seen many communities deploy multiple tools to engage with their members: one for webinars, another for replays, discussions, content, etc. Ultimately, customers of these communities do not develop a sense of belonging, miss out on some of the content intended for them, and get lost along the way.
The main aim of new communities is to create a single digital space where customers can ask questions, share best practices and advice, participate in webinars, or watch replays, access all educational content available to them.
The role of your Customer Success team is to manage this space, especially through webinars, workshops, or training, lead it, and analyze activities within this community and their interactions with the content provided. The goal is to create customer cohorts based on these activities and define action plans accordingly (e.g., a customer interacting with content may remain low-touch in the segmentation done by CSMs).
Improve the Customer Experience:
If some customer communities have started using Slack or another similar tool, there is a good reason. The fear that customers may not (re)engage within the space provided.
The fear is legitimate, but the answer is no longer. These default chat tools for managing communities do not meet customer expectations, and even less those of Customer Success teams (in terms of segmentation, management, analytics, etc.).The solution is now to embed your digital space where your customers are or should return most often: your product, website, or customer portal.
Now prioritize tools that allow this simplified experience. Customers interested in a webinar or its replay will no longer search for hours to watch it. They will know that everything related to your product, service, or brand is available in the Community, and they will know how to connect to that community.
This experience solves two major issues in the world of customer communities: registration (no more sign-ups on multiple platforms, everything happens via a Single Sign-On) and engagement.
Provide the Right Content, at the Right Place:
Now that your community is embedded in your product, your customers know where to find the information and training they seek.
But you can go even further by creating shortcuts wherever necessary to the content available in your community/academy. Imagine a customer trying to master a feature of your product released a week ago. If they are stuck, their first instinct will be to log into the community to ask a question or watch a tutorial video. Now imagine that they can, by clicking on a highlighted shortcut on this feature, open a 'drawer' where community content related to the feature is displayed. This content could be a replay, a forum, a helpdesk article.
Community content not only becomes interactive, it also becomes proactive. As a result, your customer education will be significantly improved.
To learn more about MeltingSpot and its latest features, click here.