How Social Service Communities Can Drive Loyalty
for businesses to provide the flexible, effortless service customers are looking for and build relationships with them at the same time.
An effective social service community should include a number of key capabilities, such as a knowledge library, case management functions, and forums where customers can interact with one another and the business. These features should make it easy for customers to find what they're looking for and voice their opinions. Furthermore, the community should automate key customer-facing business processes, such as return merchandise authorization, bill payment, account status, and more. The effectiveness, value, and stickiness of the community as it relates to building customer satisfaction and loyalty will increase with every business process automated for self-service.
Ultimately, the goal of a social service community should be to provide an environment where customers feel safe and welcome, and where they know they'll get quality answers to their questions. By delivering on those objectives, these communities can make delivering 24/7 effortless support a reality.
Furthermore, these communities can not only benefit existing customers, but can also provide valuable resources for potential customers and the business alike. For customers in the purchase process, objective feedback from other customers on their experience and point of view has become very important. This feedback can also prove extremely valuable to your business, providing direct insight into what customers like and don't like, what improvements they'd like to see, and more.
This Isn't Field of Dreams
Social service communities can deliver huge benefits, but they must be properly managed. And when it comes to these communities, it's definitely not an "If you build it, they will come" situation. Rather, these communities must be guided by strategy and regular moderation in order to succeed.
The success of a community is also dependent on what you do before it's launched. While the community is still in development, you need to identify MVPs, or partners and known brand advocates, who can generate buzz. They will be responsible for creating content and introducing members on the day of the launch.
Once the community is live, an essential component of success is having a dedicated community manager who can listen to and respond to customers and advocate for their needs. Do customers want to see a specific improvement or change made? The community manager needs to understand their position and take this back to the business. By responding to this feedback (and being transparent in how you do that), your business can demonstrate that it's listening to customers, which will not only satisfy them, but will also give them a reason to come back and continue to participate in the community. Additionally, the manager needs to own the social analytics of the community in order to track its health.
At the end of the day, management of social service communities is a windy, ongoing road. As customers' needs (and your business' offerings) continue to evolve, you need to keep adjusting your strategy to make sure that the community capabilities and content continue to support those demands.
Yaron Wilf is a vice president at Cloud Sherpas. He specializes in service and support, primarily for the Salesforce Service Cloud platform.
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