Why It's Crucial to Have an Online Community for Your Customers
All your customers are online and they are spending a good chunk of time there. You are missing out on huge opportunities if you do not have an online presence.
Let’s break that all down so we can get a better understanding of just how important being online is and why you need to have an online community for your customers.
The World is Online
A study from DataReportal shows that 4.3 billion people in the world are online as of Q3 2019. That is 56% of the population, with 3.5 billion of these users heavily into social media. That’s about half the world. According to the data, people spend an average of six and a half hours every day on the internet, with three hours of that spent on social media and messaging.
Just from the numbers, you can see that the majority of people spend a good portion of their day in online communities. You always want to be where your customers are.
Keep Your Customers Engaged
Engagement is one of the most crucial things you can focus on for any business. Data from Constellation Research shows that companies focusing on engagement and successfully building a relationship with customers see increases in revenue of up to 51%, with increases order size improved up to 85%. A study from the University of Michigan shows that customers who engage in online communities spend 19% more than those that don’t and companies reap this benefit on their own website rather than using Facebook.
The easiest and most cost-effective way to engage with customers these days is through social media. Millennials comprise the bulk of today’s customer base. About 90.4% of millennials are active on social media. That’s not to say the other generations are behind; 77.5% of Gen X and 48.2% of Baby Boomers are also on board.
In addition, 54% of people using social media use it to research products and services they intend to buy. A full 95% of adults in the younger generation follow a brand through social media.
Using social media as a platform, you can keep customers engaged through influencer marketing, story ads, video and live streaming, and many other techniques that are considerably more affordable than traditional media options, which have just as powerful a reach and influence.
Get Feedback Easily and Affordably
Once that relationship is built, it is also much easier to collect feedback just by monitoring the feedback in your social media groups. In the past, expensive studies were done, sometimes even commissioned with market research companies to glean insights on the customer base. These days companies with a strong online community can already get the information themselves from the communities.
Social media forums such as Facebook Groups are a great place to interact with your customers directly and find out if they are having issues with any of your products and services. Having a good community manager can build relationships with your customer and help collect feedback at the same time. It’s a much more affordable and efficient alternative to using surveys, direct calls and other traditional market research techniques.
Aaron Levie, the CEO of Box.net, believed in it so much he said, “You’ll learn more in a day talking to customers than a week of brainstorming, a month of watching competitors or a year of market research.”
Reduce the Burden on Your Contact Center
As a final benefit to consider, keeping an online community active actually helps you reduce costs for customer service. A study from Aberdeen shows that maintaining an online community decreases support costs by 32.9% year-on-year, while failure to have such a community actually sees costs increase by 2.7% every year.
It’s no secret that today’s customers prefer self-service and would rather exhaust other options before calling customer support. Online communities are an excellent way to get help without calling in or starting a live chat. If you are able to build a friendly community, your other users and customers often end up helping your customers, without even having to get any of your personnel involved.