Online communities can help your company build stronger brand awareness, nurture deeper relationships with your customers, relieve pressure on your employees, validate product roadmaps and gain new business insight necessary to adapt to changing markets.
In the spirit of the Super Bowl, let’s open the community manager playbook and take a look at how you can build a winning strategy around your knowledge-driven support solution.
1. Start with a strong offensive line
Think of your customer service team as your quarterback to success. A great quarterback can lift a team to victory, just as a successful customer service team leads to customer retention, upselling and overall satisfaction, but only if they can keep up with the customer request volume. With all of the questions flying at your quarterback, you’ll need a successful offensive line to make his job easier.
So, how do you build a strong line? You could do it the old fashioned way by hiring more representatives, account managers, product managers or other roles, but you’ve already tried that. Instead, how about adopting a knowledge-driven support solution and let your customers act as your first line of defense?
With an army of customers acting to answer fellow customer questions, you are limiting the amount of questions making it through your defense and to your customer service team. By doing so, this frees up your customer service team’s time to answer the more challenging questions.
Stop having a set number of linemen protect your quarterback, open your channel to allow customers to assist other customers and watch your line grow exponentially. Best of all, it will cost your organization far less for the added protection than it would to employ all of your new teammates.
2. Pass the ball to EVERYONE
Almost all companies are in business because they had a great idea at one point. But soon, the market gets tighter, competitors prepare to blitz and your chances of winning the deals becomes slimmer. It takes a team to win games. Sure, you may have a Jerry Rice on your team, but without the help of everyone playing their positions, you’re destined to fail.
Picture this, your job is on the line, every idea outlet that you can think of is being blocked, your competitor is intercepting your customers, what is your next move? How about opening up a passing lane for customer input? Get help for your product by passing them a question about their satisfaction with your company, a new feature or your future roadmap and collect their feedback. With an online community, it’s very easy to open up a line of communication directly with the end users. Ask them exactly what they want and incorporate it. When your customers start weighing in, you’ll once again have a competitive edge.
3. Award your MVPs
Do you have a star customer the goes above and beyond? Recognize them for it! Gamification is a great way to incorporate virtual or real world incentives for helping your team out. Best of all, you have complete control over the costs of your rewards!
Think about it, you’re company is planning on hiring a new customer service agent. Let’s be REALLY conservative and say that your company spends $10/hour for them. That’s $10 x 40 hours x 4 weeks = $1,600/month. Instead of hiring, you can rely on your community to help your team. If you were to offer a $100 gift card to your top 5 community members who have chipped in to answer questions or provided ideas for product improvements, you’d save $1,100/month! And, there are many other ways to get your audience engaged through gamification.
4. Evolve your franchise
This is it, you’ve had a successful season and now it’s time to repeat next year. Draft day is upon us and you need to choose the next steps for your business strategy. What product enhancements should you focus on, and how will they lead you into the future?
If you have been following this playbook all season, you should know what your customers want and how you can give it to them. Take their feedback and build a strong product roadmap and don’t forget to let them know that their voices are heard.
For more information on how to build a successful community, check out 5 Key Elements of a Successful Online Community.