Customer Experience Management and the Role of Online Communities
Want to reduce churn, increase revenues, and generate higher profits? In this article, we’ll look at how online communities can help you level up your customer experience and business growth.
Whilst many companies claim to be “customer-centric”, there’s a big distinction between those who are simply saying it and those who are actually living it. Just look around and you’ll see evidence of companies doing it well.
Ever experienced a 10-hour customer service call? Well, it happened at Zappos.com and now it’s the story of customer service legend. To compete in today’s market and keep up with increasing customer expectations, you must know your customers better than your competitors.
Zappos literally wrote the book on how to create an exceptional customer-centric culture and the importance of customer intelligence.
What is Customer Experience Management?
Customer Experience Management (CEM) is a concept that concerns the way a company is able to control customer interactions. Traditionally, individual business units will consider interactions with customers from their own siloed perspectives. The function of CEM is to examine customer interactions with your company from the perspective of the customer.
Furthermore, CEM will uncover and examine various opportunities to improve those interactions within and between those business units. CEM makes use of customer intelligence to help you build better relations with your customers across the entire customer life cycle. This ensures that your company is consistently meeting and exceeding customer expectations.
Related Post: The Customer Journey Map – Why It’s Essential and How to Create an Effective One
Why Is Customer Experience Management Important?
Customer Experience Management has one broad objective – ensuring an improvement in business profits. This objective can be achieved by focusing on three key activities:
1. Amplifying Positive Word of Mouth
When your overall customer experience improves, the customers who have great experiences with your business will be able to go out and act as marketers for you. They will naturally speak well of your services to their friends, acquaintances, and others.
Forrester research statistics revealed that 70 percent of consumers trust brand recommendations from friends. Only 10 percent trust actual advertising. Are you effectively tracking your customer referrals?
2. Fostering Customer Loyalty
In their Harvard Business Review article on Getting Brand Communities Right, Susan Fournier and Lara Lee explain: “A community-based brand builds loyalty not by driving sales transactions but by helping people meet their needs.” Therefore, developing a strategy and a system for understanding what your customers want and ensuring that you can deliver on it is critical.
Having clearly defined brand loyalty metrics and a system for tracking those on a regular basis is also important.
3. Reputation Management
The third step is to help reduce the detractors who might speak negatively about your business. There are two ways to go about managing your company’s reputation online:
- Assign the technical process of ongoing online reputation management to someone in your marketing or customer experience department.
- Instill an internal culture of creating exceptional customer experiences
The Ritz-Carlton hotel chain has been known to put its customers first. They do it by empowering their team members to develop incredibly personalized customer experiences. By building emotional connections with hotel guests, the company looks to ensure that guests have the best possible hotel stay. The way
Ritz-Carlton see it, every employee is both a brand ambassador and client advocate every step of the way. Your company might want to adopt that philosophy too.
Measuring the Impact of Customer Experience Management
Customer experience management can impact a business in three distinct areas.
A successful CEM operation will ensure that the company is able to keep profits up. It will also generate incremental sales both from old customers and new ones. As customers speak to their family, friends, and associates about your business, these new people will be more inclined to try out what your business has to offer. A remarkable experience that is delivered to these new customers will help ensure that they go out as well. Thus, they end up giving rave reviews of your business to other people.
Reducing customer churn is one of the major advantages of Customer Engagement Management. CEM helps reduce the cost of acquiring new customers, as it ensures existing and prospective customer retention. CEM is also capable of turning your customers to your marketers. This is because word of mouth is capable of reaching even more people. In addition to a moderate marketing campaign, this will get you the client base you desire.
Strengthening Brand Preference
A successful CEM operation will also help ensure that your brand is preferred to others. Differentiated experiences will give your brand even more credibility.
Online Communities and Customer Engagement
An online community is a forum where people can connect virtually and render needed services or help. Brands have been looking to develop strong online communities as a means of understanding their customers better. Let’s take a look at the benefits of this approach.
The desire for connection and companionship is something that we all have. This is why as a brand, you want to take advantage of this desire to drive customer engagement.
Accelerated Customer Support
Think about it, whenever a person has a question related to a product or service an online community can provide answers quickly. This eliminates the need for the customer to go to the business directly. Particularly useful if the business has physical locations that are far from the customer.
Better Customer Insights and Brand Engagement
Community platforms enable businesses to track and improve upon levels of customer insight and engagement. Customers and advocates are also able to come back to the brand. This is because they believe that they are people to speak to or make references to whenever issues arise. This is why brands are going to need a lot of engagement to drive loyalty. An online community can help with that.
Related Post: Customer Intelligence: What It Is and Why It’s Important
Examples of Customer Experience Communities
Lufthansa needed to ensure the engagement of trainees in-between workshops at the Lufthansa Business School. Markus Eichel, operational manager at Lufthansa’s School of Business, was looking for a means of exploring how to improve team collaboration. He wanted to use a community platform both in-between and during workshops to achieve this. Markus found that it was difficult to have a platform that was responsive and mobile-ready. He knew that accessing the platform from anywhere would increase the chances of boosting team collaboration. Markus worked with other platforms before.
This was how he knew the issues they had with size and flexibility. Markus discovered that the CMNTY platform allowed him and his team to customize every aspect of the community experience. Markus shared, “The flexibility made it really easy to react quickly based on the needs of our community. This aspect of the platform really added to its value for us.” The result? Improved team collaboration and trainees felt that their feedback and opinions were being valued.
Read the full case study here.
Blauw Research, a mid-sized research agency, was able to transform their way of working and improve revenue for them and their clients with the use of communities. They needed a way to gain insights for their research purposes. This way, they could keep up with the research dynamics on qualitative and quantitative levels.
The solution that Blauw saw with the CMNTY platform was that it was able to help them to ask questions in various ways, while also providing support for uploading images and videos. These features of the CMNTY platform helped Blauw record improved client relationships and better customer insights.
Read the full case study here.
Ipsos Belgium understood the advantages of gathering information with online research methods. However, they also needed a means of staying forward-focused, especially in a dynamic technological landscape. They were looking to go beyond bulletin boards and use research methods that offered the opportunity for deeper engagement. They found this advantage with pop-up communities.
These communities provided benefits including more thinking time for participants and greater levels of engagement. And, there was also the ability to add media, wider geographical coverage and much more.
Read the full case study here.
Where to Next?
Every company desires an increase in customer engagement and retention. However, the most progressive companies are utilizing online communities as a key part of their Customer Experience Management operation. As we’ve discussed in this article there are various advantages to this approach.
The customer insights that can be collected through online community platforms are invaluable. So, just remember one important lesson: focus on people before platform, always. After all, it’s the people who will reward you for understanding them better than anybody else.