To make your brand a market leader you need to forge customer relationships and enhance the customer experience as they have a direct bearing on the lifetime value of consumers. Customer experience is prime to operating a fruitful business, in the same way a user experience is prime to creating a fruitful product. More so, in a competitive environment, this becomes difficult, as you have various competitors vying for customer attention and carrying them forward in their customer journey.
What you require is to create the perfect touch points or engagements to exchange information or manage transactions in the customer journey and integrating your brand in a purposeful way so as to heighten engagement, augment brand loyalty and raise customer retention.
Tapping into the online community offers you an effective business tool to engage customers and strengthen your connection.
Here we present the main touchpoints in the journey of a customer where your online community can be roped in to facilitate a top-notch customer engagement.
# 1. Awareness Generated By Online Communities
Online communities are very resourceful as they effortlessly make their way into the complete customer journey. This begins from the phase of discovery to turning into a paying consumer to brand loyalty and support.
Besides, such communities provide scope to people to network with one another and create valuable channels and networks. These consumer networks amplify due to geo locations and shared use and promote the connections.
Online communities if implemented in a proper way is a potent tool for reaching out to your target audience and boosting leads.
# 2. Make Customers Discover You Through User -generated Content
A customer can find your brand from user-generated content (UGC), get to know the success stories, and become aware of the customer support right from the community, buy the product and receive onboarding material from the community.
The content created by your community members helps the search engines to locate new and rare content that can be indexed. In fact, Google often ranks content from forums like Quora or StackOverflow derived from the keywords.
Your community content receives organic leads when anyone looks for a keyword related to your competitor. There is scope for both types of content – static and dynamic, that means the content for which you do not prefer to have your users commenting as well as the content on which you require the participation of your users.
The integrated knowledge resource lets you house both the knowledge support developed by your organization and the user-generated content in a single place. It can be achieved by shifting the static content towards community posts where discussions can be disabled and members can post comments as their feedback. Meanwhile, some content where an active participation is required from the members of the community can be activated for discussions.
In this manner, you can display relevant content as the readers browse, search or include questions.
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# 3. Thought Leadership Ideas
Your designated online community can perform as a superb network to develop thought leadership concepts besides other media. In this manner, you can gain a quick access to your audience with whom you can exchange your leadership ideas. You can also make a slot with the community for your business and place your brand as a promoter of conversations relating to your domain.
If the ideas exchanged within your community have some news value, it is very likely to be shared by the members and various third-party sites that include media channels that may also highlight them. This functions in a recurrent pattern, and in turn improves the brand visibility
# 4. Purchase And Consideration
Once the likely customers are aware of your brand and services, they require a solution to the issues arising from the product that brand extends. Here the prospects can start to consider products from your brand, alongside other brands also that caters to their needs. During this phase they have not arrived at a decision on which brand to engage with.
In such a case, you can make use of your online community to influence the process of decision taking as well online community can be used to influence the decision-making process and translate them into your client.
As the needs of the customer become urgent and they have finalized on their research, they start the process of choosing a vendor. Taking into consideration that your detailing, marketing, messaging has been quite compelling and engaging- this is the moment when they may select your product over a rival’s.
# 5. Social Proof Communications
Online communities can be applied to record the candid conversations made by your present clients with regard to your products and facilities. You can also develop a special segment within your community to offer the success stories and testimonials of customers.
As customers tend to believe the messaging generated from their peers in a credible way in contrast to the communication emanating from the organization, social proof contributes in a big way in pacing up the decision-making method.
# 6. Facilitating Improved Onboarding
A robust onboarding process aids community owners to use to their advantage the valuable time spent by a new member in subscribing to your community. For your new consumers you can let them know about the terrific resources that have been developed in the community to help them succeed initially, and also get informed about the checklists or action items.
Moreover, onboarding can also be used to communicate to your fresh members about whom to get in touch with when they are confused. It can also include collateral like training videos, datasheets, and documents that seamlessly onboard the members. You can even configure it depending on the clients to create a personalized feel.
The general goal of onboarding to present a compelling experience from the start so as to keep them coming back to participate regularly. Onboarding new members into your community is a crucial socialization process. It offers the new members the necessary tools and know-how to derive the best out of the community. Moreover, onboarding also helps the members to find peers having similar passion so as to build networks and add value to one another.
# 7. Self-Service Online Community
Online communities are incredible support networks. Customers can receive help from various customers besides your team. Consumer communities perform like a main online space around which your support, product, and marketing unit can meticulously function with customers and provide adequate resources so that they search for solutions individually.
As stated in the report by Forrester Research on Customer Lifecycle Journey a customer community or such type of support network exists for 81% of companies. This indicates that it acts like a main support and consumer experience channel. Almost 60% of U.S. adults participate in online support forums.
Software firms can embed community touchpoints inside their product and also when consumers of your product browse various features. Besides, your product users can also communicate through like or upvote with the content directly on the product.
All the open discussions that take place within the community turn out to be an amazing source for generating ideas and upgrading products.
Several firms export the content developed within the community to conduct text mining process like sentiment evaluation and feature selection..
# 8. Updating Communication
Make your customers remain updated by sending notifications and dispatch relevant updates and nurture your relationship and augment the retention rate. Below are few of the well known channels to network and keep the members updated:
- Notifications using messaging apps like Slack, Telegram
- In-app notifications
- Facebook Messenger
- Notifications based on browser
- Incorporating third-party tools like MailChimp and HubSpot
# 9. Promoting Customer Loyalty
All the actions performed by a brand towards community building has the main objective of promoting customer loyalty. Your community can be a useful medium to gain referrals and advocacy. Your reward cum recognition program would be after all directed towards conversion of these loyal members into evangelists of your brand or brand advocates.
Such brand advocates would be elated to discuss your products on various channels and refer and promote your product to their channels. This promotion by word of mouth is impactful as they are conveyed by satisfied customers and is critical for gaining new customers.
# 10. Enhanced Product Innovation
Online communities are honest in their opinion. When you proactively ask your users to share their feedback, your customer always feels interested in reporting bugs, offers advice on improving user experience, and gives suggestions for features.
Following the feedback gathered from the members, end the loop by implementing those proposals. Be inventive in your field and co-create with the consumers and reveal to them thay your brand actually cares.
Paying attention to these crucial interactions or touchpoints that connect online communities with your customer journey may transform the way your consumer feels about your brand and its products or service. In the long run, these touchpoints form the foundation for mapping a customer journey and a complete understanding of how an individual user interacts with the product as well as the brand over time.