These days, most successful businesses and corporations – regardless of their size – are using social networking, such as Facebook and Twitter, to engage with customers and expand their business’ reach and influence. While the use of social media is highly effective at connecting with new potential customers and staying relevant to current customers, some industry experts are now pointing out that coupling social networking with customer communities can be a more effective business strategy in that it can greatly improve customers’ experience with your business with minimal cost or effort to your business.
Customer communities are business-operated online forums that allow existing and potential customers to ask questions/get answers, post/read product reviews, view how-to videos and generally learn more about the product or service your business has to offer. The following are some of the key benefits for businesses that are associated with the use of customer communities in conjunction with social networking:
- Customer communities can alleviate strain on customer service resources: Regardless of the size of a business, resources – including available customer service agents – are limited and can only handle so many calls or inquiries per hour or per day. Customer communities can alleviate the strain on customer service agents, as customers can get answers to some of their inquiries (or solutions to their possible issues) from other customers who are in the online community.
- Customer communities can generate new product ideas: Some of the best people to make suggestions about how you can improve your products or services are the customers themselves. In customer communities, your customers can post about their experience with your product/service and provide insight as to how it can be better – this is a goldmine when it comes to generating new product ideas (or new versions of current products). In fact, some companies will even beta test new products among small groups and receive feedback via customer communities.