Let’s face it, customers have changed from the past.
The evolution of technology has allowed the communication lines between customers and businesses to come closer together, creating a 2-way stream rather than communication being one-sided. Because of this, customers are able to interact and engage with businesses to express their comments and concerns more easily, therefore businesses have been able to provide better service and experiences back in various ways. Companies are now taking advantage of this new customer reality by creating new features and becoming more skilled at involving their customers in different processes. Social media, online forums, and live chats have all emerged from this shift in order to provide the best experiences for their customers.
The introduction of Customer Relationship Management (CRM) tools have been the key to success for businesses looking to create and maintain relationships with customers more efficiently. It is where all their customer data is located, sorted, and centralized to access easily. Over the years, CRMs have evolved into much more than just a one-way track for managing customer data. Since they allow businesses to track every step of the customer experience, they are able to improve their services quicker and grow much faster. The quality of the customer experience has never been more important for a business’ success, and now the concept of self-service is becoming a norm to provide efficiency. Self-service allows customers to be resourceful and get what they need without having to go through support staff.
The combination of CRM, customers, and self-service can get hectic and disorganized. In order to centralize everything in one place, customer communities have grown in popularity. Customer communities allow you to centralize all your customer data in a single place, where you are able to track and manage customers accordingly. They give your customers the ability to access important business data on their own, while maintaining engagement with your business. Customer communities have the ability to strengthen relationships between customers and your business and foster stronger communication ties. Through the implementation of self-service actions, customers are able to access shared documents, access their personal information, and even help other customers through the community. Some common use cases for customer communities include:
- Customer support (such as a help desk or knowledge base)
- Customer training (such as onboarding or educating your customers)
- Customer feedback, ideas, and social collaboration
To implement a customer community in your strategies, you need to make a choice: Will you build your customer community or buy it from a third party vendor?
In-house solutions vs. Third-party vendors
In-house developed solutions require help from the internal IT team to build from the ground-up. Building a custom product requires time, energy, and resources from everyone in the company in order to ensure that the portal meets all their business needs. This could take more time than needed because the people working on the product as well as their daily workloads would find it hard to balance everything.
On the other hand, third-party solutions are developed by vendors who specialize in creating portals for different use cases. These solutions come with pre-built features and specific subscription pricing depending on what that business requires. The developers from these vendors work together with those in the business to fulfil their needs and take on the responsibility of keeping the portal up and running whenever there is a need to upgrade or do maintenance.
From simple customer support to full self-service
Technology is rapidly addressing the growing importance of creating customer communities because of the “new customer”. Engagement is key when developing relationships, and customer communities could do just that. Bringing your customers together in a centralized location to access the information they need grants them autonomy while still feeling engaged. Features such as customer support, customer training, and allowing customers to provide feedback, ideas, and collaborate together will create a positive customer experience. Building customer communities is the key to creating value and exerting positive relationship management between businesses and customers. The rise of customer communities is upon us and it’s time to embrace it.
Magentrix Solutions (www.magentrix.com) redefine collaboration by connecting communication, engagement and learning in one secure place. We go beyond sharing content by enabling your employees, customers and partners to work with the data that runs your business. With a centralized solution for collaboration, everyone is more engaged, efficient and productive.