Provide the information your customers need to achieve their goals
Your customers bought and started to use your product because they had a need. By providing all possible information that helps them reach their desired outcome in your community, you will create trust and loyalty. Of course, your customers want to get relevant information quickly and effortlessly. According to one Forrester report, 73% of consumers say that valuing their time is the most important thing companies can do to provide them with good customer service.
How could you present that information in your community?
Think about what your customers need in the various stages of their lifecycle, which products you offer and which steps they need to take to get the most value. Make sure customers can find all the information they may need in your community. If they can't, they can always easily post a question to be answered either by your own team, or by another member of the community. This, in turn, means your knowledge base is constantly updating and increases the likelihood of your customers being able to self-serve. To make sure customers can find the information that is relevant to them, think of the following elements you could use:
- A category dedicated to onboarding materials for new customers with all relevant information they need so they will reach their first milestones as quickly as possible and get to know the community right from the start of their customer journey. An example of this can be found in our own inSpired Community. In a dedicated category for new customers (only accessible for customers with an inSpired account), we help them to onboard as smoothly as possible and highlight common mistakes they should avoid. By making the community a central place for onboarding, we were able to bring down the average implementation time from 12 to 4 weeks, as customers could easily self serve.
- A recommended content section on your homepage and in different category pages to assist your users by providing the most searched for or most impactful content. Have a look at how Cumulus has picked their most valuable content and added it to the recommended content section.
- In App support: Use the out of the box embeddable widget to help your customers wherever they get stuck by providing them with information that is relevant to the page they are visiting at that moment. See for instance how Infoland uses relevant content from their community in iProva, their quality management system.
- Create articlesto make sure important content stands out and ranks higher in search results.
- Clear calls to action to stimulate Q&A. Like AIMMS does with with a quick link in their community:Add text to your email.
- Use quick links to really build a one stop shop for your customers so they can find everything they need in one place. Thinkwise uses the Quick Links to easily guide their customers to different important resources they have available. This means the community can be the main entry port for customer requests and questions.
B2B customers are eager to learn from each other and discover how they can improve based on the best practices of others. Events are one way to let them get in touch with each other, but they can be costly and difficult to organize. In your community, your customers can get in touch with each other whenever they want and their learnings will always be available for customers old and new. Encourage your customers to engage with each other by sending a community newsletter, ask your contacts to share their best practices (interview them or create a template), give examples of how they use your products and how they calculate the value. As a bonus, this content might build trust with your prospects and encourage them to opt for your solution.
Make sure you reward all input by following up with personal messages, show interest by asking follow-up questions and mentioning other users so the customer who took the effort to share knowledge gets the audience they deserve. Don’t take this lightly—as we all know, customer engagement is an important way to drive retention.
Another tip to stimulate engagement is to invite your true advocates or customer experts to a closed category on the community, where they can have more in-depth discussions with you and each other. This will make them feel more acknowledged, which might lead to more bonding and customer loyalty. And, if you do host an event, the community is a perfect way to create long tail content, just like Infoland does.
Use your community in your customer health measurements
Given that engagement is an important factor influencing customer retention, engagement metrics should be a part of your overall customer health score. Analyzing who is active on your community and their interaction is important as engaging with you as a brand is key to retention. In order to analyze this, our integration with your CRM system, like SalesForce, makes keeping track super easy. Currently, we are running a beta for an out of the box integration with SalesForce which you can still join by reaching out to Daniel.Boon@insided.com.
Increase product adoption by promoting features and building the things your customers need
You want to make sure that your customers are being successful by getting the most value out of your product and use your product on a regular basis to its full potential. Make sure your customers can always find the latest feature updates and read what’s coming up on your roadmap. Check out, for example, the way Infoland communicates about their roadmap (in Dutch). Explain why you built certain features, how to use them to their best and what the proven value is just like AIMMS have done. Your customers will, therefore, feel the community is a place where they can share their opinion about these features or file ideation requests. Make sure your Product Owners are active on the community so they can explain their point of view first hand and give customers direct feedback. The benefit for your Product Team? They get all their product feedback in one central place, can easily ask follow up questions to a larger crowd and can see the discussions between your customers. This approach makes sure your customers are more encouraged to make use of the features you offer and feel more engaged, while your product team can focus on the most important things for your customers. At the Webroot Community, for example, customers can file a request and they can immediately see the status of it in their ideation category.
Your community is the key to scaling your Customer Success Approach
A lot of the items above, from creating engagement to helping your customers when they have questions to giving the information they need during onboarding and at critical phases of their journey are probably always incorporated in your success approach. The real benefit of a community is that it helps you to scale. Your Customer Success Manager no longer only gives an update to their own customers, via the community they can reach all your customers at once and it will even stay available for future customers. The result? They can handle more customers and are able to gather more insights from their customers by analyzing their questions and interactions on the community.