There are many benefits to harnessing customer conversations. Online conversation platforms like inSided help brands produce user-generated content at scale—while simultaneously allowing customers to give each other advice and assistance.
Yet adopting a customer community does require an upfront investment of time, energy, and creative resources. Accounting for these factors, as the three companies profiled here have done, will result in optimal community results.
If you’re just getting started on the journey to building a thriving community, here’s where we recommend you focus your energy.
A compelling design
Styling your community in line with your brand guidelines is critically important. Consistent branding helps drive customer affinity—so much so that some brands build lavish brand guides to direct styling decisions.
In creating a new community, you’ll want a platform whose backend allows for automatic software updates, so you can focus on creating a great design for the front-end. This is where a true SaaS platform like inSided gives you an advantage: Your community receives the latest security and usability updates, without you having to do a thing.
With automatic updates delivered from the cloud, you’re free to focus on the styling of your community. While we recommend that every community include certain design elements, like a prominently displayed search bar, styling and layout decisions are—thanks to inSided’s customizability—fully yours to make.
Applying unique typefaces is one way to make your community stand out from the competition—especially if your brand guidelines already support a differentiated font. This is where Spanish telco Tuenti’s community really shines: It uses a unique font that matches the branding on its main website.
These styling decisions communicate to customers that the same quality of service that they expect from a brand will also be upheld on the community.
Aligning on values
We’ve talked before about why you must agree internally on goals and KPIs. What matters just as much is identifying what purpose a community will serve for your brand in the first place—aligning the community’s success with your brand values, in other words.
Certain inSided customers adopt a community to improve their digital customer experience. Tuenti is one example; the company’s focus on CX led to it winning the “Best Customer Experience Award in Telecommunications” at the annual Platinum Contact Center Awards in Madrid in June.
It’s also possible to build a community as part of a shift in company priorities. Eneco, a Dutch utility, did precisely this.
Traditionally, Eneco simply sold power to its customers. The more energy they used, the more money Eneco made. Within the last few years, though, Eneco has reoriented itself around providing services that help people use lessenergy.
On both of its communities, Eneco’s customers share insights on consuming less power. The communities complement Eneco’s service-oriented approach and—by empowering people to help each other save energy—actually advance it.
Integrating content externally
This people-helping-people ethos is what makes conversation-driven communities so powerful, for both marketing and support.
Yet to really maximize the value of a community, you should take after T-Mobile NL and distribute community content on other platforms.
T-Mobile’s community managers were so impressed by the quality of the answers their customers were posting that they republished them in the “Device Help” and FAQ pages of the T-Mobile website. Today, T-Mobile customers who search these sections of the company’s website will see content produced by their peers.
Integrating customer conversations into multiple channels is the future of online communities. Standalone communities will continue to have their place, but the real goal will be infusing the entire customer experience with conversations—via APIs, plugins, app integrations, and more.
Taking this into consideration before your community is launched will not only let you get more mileage from your user-generated content, but help drive traffic to your community in its early stages.
By Ben Foster
Content Marketer at inSided. Having worked in B2B tech in San Francisco and Boston, Ben's now happy to be in New York City. He'll never root for the Yankees, though. Connect on Linkedin