So you want to know what your customers really think? Time to convert your customer list into an insight community.
You want to be delivering new services, products or guidance that really make a difference, that keeps your customers coming back, right? You also want to encourage new customers through the door, true? Engaging with your existing customer list is critical for this.
Here at CMNTY, we know that at the heart of every great business is the desire to keep doing more for their customers. To continually be meeting and exceeding their expectations. Just a word of advice: Management Matters Network reported on the perils of neglecting ‘non-customers’. These are people who should be customers, but for whatever reason, aren’t engaging with your business yet. You need to make sure when carrying out polls and seeking feedback, you’re not forgetting the importance of these non-customers.
Alright, time to get into the juicy stuff… How do you know what your customers (and non-customers) want and how do you reach out to them in a way that’s proactive, positive and productive for both you and them? One of the best ways to do this is by turning your customer list into an insights community.
Insight communities are a place where your customers can come and give feedback freely, or you can seek out specific answers to questions you need to drive the business forward. Here are the top 5 reasons why you need to convert your customer list into an insights community:
1. Get A Clear Evaluation Of Your Customer Experience
If you don’t know what your customers think or how they’re engaging with your businesses, how can you know what is or isn’t working? Understanding your customer experience is crucial for moving forward. In his article for Harvard Business Review, Chris Meyer, Author and Strategy Consultant advises that “customer experience encompasses every aspect of a company’s offering—the quality of customer care, of course, but also advertising, packaging, product and service features, ease of use, and reliability. Yet few of the people responsible for those things have given sustained thought to how their separate decisions shape customer experience.”
Turning your customer list into an insight community creates an open door for you to gain these insights and feedback it back to the appropriate team members. CMNTY platform helps you do this with 10 default modules that encourage a wide range of interactions and evaluations (see the bottom of this article for the full list!)
2. Develop An Effective Customer-Driven Ideation Process
Adam Menzies, the director of Salesforce practice at Summa, is an advocate for the customer-led co-creation process. “Co-creation is an essential practice for companies who want to create a fiercely loyal customer base,” Menzies advises.
Many companies already practice business-led co-creation and ideation, so bringing in customers for this process can only mean good things for your business (if you’re not already one of them). To be clear, customers already co-create around your business to make it work better for them, you just might not know about it.
Putting them in the driving seat through an insight community allows you the opportunity to reap the benefits of what they have to say. It’s all about making the invisible, visible. “Co-creation has the ability to happen without the company’s involvement. However, ignoring it will likely to alienate customers by letting their passion for your brand go unanswered” says Adam.
The Challenge module in your community allows you to create competitions and challenges to your customers, inspiring ideation, and co-creation. Making leveraging the power of your community easy and beneficial at both ends.
3. Gain Greater Consumer Context And Understanding
“Context is the secret to growth for modern businesses” according to Matthew Sweezey, Principal of Marketing Insights at Salesforce, in his article for Forbes. Customers are in control when it comes to marketing and advertising. They can choose what they want to see online more than ever, and if they can’t, research repeatedly shows they leave. Insight communities work for two reasons in relation to this.
- With CMNTY platform, you host the community on your site so you control the advertising. The less, the better and the more engaged your community is (as opposed to hosting it on LinkedIn or Facebook where you have no control over adverts, especially from other vendors who are targeting your customers).
- Insight communities unite your customers in discussions – are they using Instagram, Snapchat? Are they going to the movies or streaming on Netflix? It builds your target customer context so you can direct your products and services accordingly.
“Consumers are in control now, and they don’t want ads. Instead, they demand a new type of relationship with businesses — a contextual experience” advises Matthew. An insight community helps you build context and understanding of your customers so you can meet them where they want to be met.
4. Increase Customer Satisfaction And Loyalty
As Seth Godin, Marketing Expert and best-selling author, himself says, “It’s easier to love a brand when the brand loves you back.” Providing your customers and non-customers with an open platform – like an insights community – where they can speak to other customers, get responses from brand champions and more importantly real representatives from your business.
This access almost instantly helps increase your customer’s sense of value. Nobody likes being caught up under a complicated IVR system. Or risking their email request getting buried under hundreds of other support emails when trying to access support.
They can see that their feedback is important to you. This creates satisfied customers who are vocal – and that stands out to non-customers. CMNTY’s Gamification module is fantastic for exactly this – you have the ability to reward customers for their input. Customers can build loyalty points through your insight community and spend them in your webshop. Nothing says customer satisfaction than getting something back. Curious as to how to ask your questions?
5. Better Understand Brand Perceptions
Brand perceptions are critical. Social conversations about brands are no longer confined to dinner tables. Consumers have more platforms than ever before to vocalize their perceptions of certain brands and these have a real impact on non-customers. Brand perception also has to match reality. It’s no good if you think of your business one way but it’s landing completely differently to your customers.
Paul Jankowski is Chief Brand Strategist for New Heartland Ground advises you need to ask some key questions of your customers: “Think about your brand. Why do people like it? Why do they use it? What emotions are elicited when they think about your brand? If you aren’t sure about the answers to these questions, you need to take a few steps to find out if your brand’s perception is the reality.”
Insight communities are the perfect way to do this. It allows you to drive those ‘dinner table’ conversations to a place where you can see them, respond to them and act on them.
One Final Tip To Ensure Your Insights Community Is Effective
Keep it human! Don’t fall into the trap of fully automating your responses and using emotion-less chat-bots – your customers won’t thank you. When the website gethuman.com launched detailing how to reach a real-life person for 10 top organizations, they were quickly inundated with more than 400 details for fellow consumers wanting to share this information. “Unfortunately, such cunning makes for customer experiences that engender regret and then the determination to do business elsewhere,” Chris Meyer warns.
Build A Powerful Customer Insights Community With CMNTY
The great news is CMNTY has you completely covered when it comes to creating an engaged insight community with a human touch. Our software was created to inspire interaction. By default, the platform has 10 modules specifically tailored and designed to inspire conversations and spark creativity. These include:
- Bulletin board style forum to encourage discussions, with the ability to create topics, quote replies and add attachments
- Wide range of questionnaire formats – whatever you need to ask, however you want to ask it, we’ve got your back
- Human-focused chat facilities – instigate open discussions, focus groups and Q&As
- Highly customized HTML pages so you can deliver the user experience you want
- Challenge and competition pages so you can ideate and co-create with your community – leveraging their insights for your business growth
- Tailored blog platform
- Gamification to reward customers for their input.
- A webshop that allows you to build greater customer satisfaction and loyalty
- Journal to enable one-to-one discussions, you can keep conversations private while still demonstrating the value customers have
- Stepboard – keep discussions on track and structured with this step-based discussion board
- News page to share updates, insights and provide transparency to your community
As a major bonus, you can set up the platform quite quickly too.