It can be difficult to build engagement in your online community
The most commonly asked question that we hear is how can a company build engagement in their online communities? We see it time and again, a company decides to get a community, and they see high levels of excitement within the management, people are signing up daily to join the community and then a few months pass by and the engagement stagnates or worse begins to drop off. Don’t worry, this happens to the best communities. There are steps a company can take to foster engagement and keep it going strong, and methods you can employ to bring your numbers back up. We came up with a list of our top five ways to build engagement in your online community.
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Many companies spend a lot of time focusing on that one all-important number from their customer satisfaction research: average overall customer satisfaction. Bonuses or other incentives might be tied to that figure. However, an increase in customer satisfaction is not always a positive for the organization.
Satisfaction can go up because your dissatisfied customers are leaving.
A major wrench in the customer satisfaction paradigm is that it is very difficult to increase both customer satisfaction and market share. If, for instance, your competitor offers a salient switching deal and attracts a sizeable proportion of your dissatisfied customers, your average overall satisfaction will increase as your market share drops. Satisfaction must be understood in conjunction with sales data and customer churn and for this reason, customer satisfaction and market share should always be measured simultaneously.
Satisfaction can be steady even if you address your service inconsistency.
Of course, we all hope that efforts to make the customer experience more consistent will ultimately increase overall satisfaction. However, the same standards that allow service consistency may also suppress truly exceptional customer service experiences. In this case, increasing the consistency of service may not have a positive effect on overall satisfaction.
Satisfaction can change if your product mix is changing.
With new products come new customers who have different expectations. If your product mix is changing, expect that your customer satisfaction benchmarks may also change. In particular, if you introduce a product that appeals to a very different market segment, the satisfaction of these individuals may have a significant impact on your overall results.
Satisfaction can change depending on when you ask.
Should satisfaction be measured at the same time or as an ongoing transactional program? An ongoing customer satisfaction program can allow an internal monitoring team to address issues in a timely manner; however, depending on your business, you may be more interested in the customers’ satisfaction after a certain time period, such as once they have been using your product for a while. These customers may be able to provide more valuable feedback on the long-term desirability of the product
Satisfaction can change due to a changing competitive landscape.
Your competitors are also trying to increase their customer satisfaction and sometimes their actions have an impact on your customers’ satisfaction, especially if they start offering perks or other value-add services that you do not. Likewise, competitor missteps can also increase your customer’s satisfaction with your offerings even if you have not made any changes.
Measuring your competitors’ satisfaction in a blind study can be as or more informative as evaluating your own customer satisfaction. You not only gain information about what your customers appreciate about you but also about what they like about your competitors. Then you can make an informed decision about whether or not to incorporate those features.
Satisfaction can change depending on customer tenure.
If you are in the business of offering a subscription service, keeping customers happy over the long term is a great challenge. While loyal customers may be more willing to accept one poor experience as an exception, those who have recently switched from another provider may be even more forgiving if they have had a very negative experience with their past provider. Perceptions and expectations matter in keeping customers satisfied, and your interactions with customers, positive or negative, are what shape those expectations.
Satisfaction is only one piece of the puzzle.
Although measuring customer satisfaction is important, it is just one part of a strong customer experience strategy. Market share, customer churn, and competitor satisfaction can also provide important information that customer satisfaction alone does not capture. As well, investigating the variance of your customers’ satisfaction, identifying any pain points, determining satisfaction by customer tenure, and looking at the differing satisfaction levels by customer category are also important to provide a clear assessment of your company’s customer experience journey....
The following highlights some of the key benefits of using online communities.
#1. Results can be gathered quickly.
Ad hoc research projects can have a lengthy timeframe from project kick-off to delivery of the final report, and projects may take several months. With online communities (depending on the size and level of member engagement), a research question can be answered in days rather than weeks or months.
#2. Results cost less.
Online communities allow costs to be lower. After the initial costs of the community tool and recruitment, numerous projects can be run within a community in place of several ad hoc projects.
#3. Companies can instantly connect with their customers.
Branded communities allow a brand to tap into one of its most important resources: the customer. Customers who join the community are interested and invested in the brand and provide a range of feedback. Some members may be extreme brand loyalists, while others may be less willing to champion the brand. In either case, feedback from these customers is extremely valuable.
#4. Richer data can be obtained.
Depending on the size of a community, both surveys and discussions can take place within a community platform. A survey can be sent to community members, and then, rather than relying on open-ended questions alone, follow-up questions can be asked. This allows the researcher to opportunity to reveal the “why” behind quantitative data.
#5. Organic feedback can be gathered.
Communities that have engaged members may contain discussions regarding the community brand or topic. Without implementing any specific research questions, unique insights can be obtained by listening to and observing the community.
#6. Demographic profiles can be explored.
Online communities allow researchers to compile and track community members’ demographic variables. Given a community where both customers and non-customers are recruited, profiles of each group can be created and explored to understand target demographics more fully.