Building better products

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3 Reasons Communities Accelerate Product and Service Innovation

Your customers are eager to help you innovate. The question is, are you tapping into their knowledge and insights?

You may already be leveraging your customer base for advocate marketing—i.e., encouraging them to promote you via word-of-mouth. Communities are a great platform for this kind of promotional activity, as we talked about in this blog post on Sonos.

But it’s not just marketing that can get a boost from community conversations. It’s also possible to leverage your online community for ideation: gathering ideas, soliciting feedback on your existing products and services, and conducting surveys to see where you could improve.

3 Reasons Communities Accelerate Product and Service Innovation

Here are three ways communities speed innovation and empower you to make more improvements more quickly.

Understanding customers

Communities enable what we call conversational commerce and conversational service—injecting conversation into consumer-brand interactions both before and after the sale.

On a community, customers can engage each other to ask questions and share knowledge. Brand representatives—moderators, community managers, product managers, and others—can also jump in to the conversations that take place.

While we recommend having one or more full-time moderators monitor what’s being said on a community, it’s also smart to have other staffers involved on at least an occasional basis. If someone from a company’s product team is involved in a community, for example, it shows members that their suggestions and ideas are being heard.

This kind of involvement can also greatly speed development by giving product managers or developers a direct line to customers. That helps them gain new insight into what customers want—and allows both 1-to-1 and 1-to-many conversations for even deeper engagement.

Generating ideas

Ideation tools built in to the inSided platform allow community managers to share news, communication plans, or product roadmaps with users, and collect feedback.

It’s possible to get very creative with ideation and co-creation. Rabobank, one of Europe’s largest retail banks, was interested in revising how it communicated to customers during the process of requesting a new debit card. The company used its inSided community to ask customers how it could improve, and implemented their feedback in its messaging. The result? Fifteen percent fewer support calls related to debit card renewals.

SNS, another Dutch bank, used its community to get feedback on its marketing efforts. It, too, implemented the suggestions its customers provided—and even developed a series of commercials based on their feedback:

Collecting votes

The inSided survey module allows surveys to be embedded in new community posts. Moderators or community managers simply upload the questions they want to ask to a new topic, then invite the community to respond.

What makes a community ideal for conducting surveys? Communities are very diverse, which means they’re a good place to collect balanced feedback on your products, services, and sales and marketing efforts. They’re also home to some of your most engaged customers—exactly the kind of people who want to weigh in and offer their opinions.

And conducting research on communities with thousands of members is far less expensive than third-party survey platforms, which typically charge on a per-response basis.