What is it?
Online communities are an integrated suite of modern community applications such as forums, blogs, wikis, ideation, media galleries, and calendars, with a fully customisable user interface.
Customer communities have grown in popularity because they bring people together around a common interest, cause, profession or product.
People love to talk to each other about the things that matter to them and a community gives people a space to tell stories, share experiences and grow their passions—and to help each other out.
What problems does a community solve?
Customers helping customers
One of the biggest advantages of having an online community is that customers can quickly self-solve their problems without clogging up your more expensive manned support channels.
That’s the cool thing about a community: there's often no larger source of knowledge about your product than your customer base.
Customers use products in all sorts of unexpected ways and have experience with all kinds of use cases and scenarios. The ability to tap into that and add it to your support channels can take the pressure off human-manned channels.
On a platform that archives discussions, people can search for conversations where others have already worked through their problems. If they can’t find an answer, they can ask the community a new question and have topic experts answer.
This is textbook Self-Service. It’s a better, quicker experience for them, and having customers helping customers reduces your support costs.
Typically, customers can and will answer queries posted in the forum long before support reps can get to it. Even if their problem isn’t solved right away, the time to first response drops dramatically and de-escalates frustration before a customer feels let down.
Once customers become active in the community, the distance between them and your brand decreases and this increases a sense of partnership and loyalty.
In fact, this is one of the best ways to turn customers into brand advocates because you’re ensuring your community consistently adds value to the lives of your customer base.
Customers don’t have a voice
Everyone wants to feel like they have been heard, especially when they have a problem to solve. This is why using a community as a support resource can help keep customers on your side. It’s somewhere they have a voice.
By inviting them to share their expertise and knowledge in your community, you inspire them to get involved and enable connections that are meaningful and helpful. You’re breaking down the traditional one-way exchange of information and making customers feel like a partner.
Consumers want a seat at the table, so it’s the brands who help customers feel heard who will win long-term loyalty.
Examples / Case Studies:
A community is one of the most powerful ways to connect customers, members or fans to each other and to you. What’s fascinating is virtually every community is unique, offering different reasons and incentives for consumers to participate and engage.
For Nordic, it was all about supporting their network of customers.
Their community—Nordic DevZone—is primarily used as a way for customers to ask for specialist advice on development projects and to improve their knowledge of Nordic products. With 25,000 registered users and more than 50,000 questions logged, it’s one of the best examples of using a community for support. In fact, 63% of support requests are now directed at community members.
That’s a significant shift in burden from internal support tickets.