Do you want to make customer support a better experience for your customers and save your organization money?
It may sound like searching for a needle in a haystack, but there are solutions in the world that focus on achieving both those goals simultaneously. And online customer communities, pared with data from your CRM, are a great way of increasing customer satisfaction and helping your organization win. By working together, the two platforms create a seamless customer support experience for any type of customer, solving a myriad of problems.
Today’s world is more competitive than ever, making customer retention vital for organizations. That means customer care and support are crucial - and it’s important that you have a system that integrates all the tools necessary to create a frictionless experience. Let’s dig into how combining your CRM and customer community can help you achieve these goals.
1. Faster response times and better answers
Any extra minute of customer frustration is bad for your organization - so the faster you can solve issues, the better. But what happens if crisis strikes a customer when your support team is off the clock?
Unlike individual people, your customer support community never sleeps, especially if it has users across time zones. Just because it’s after hours or your support team is overwhelmed by other cases doesn’t mean your customers can’t ask each other questions and collaborate online.
But it doesn’t stop there. Over time, as customers work together to solve problems, they essentially build a searchable, ever-updating manual that any user can access. So, even if a user doesn’t get a response right away, chances are someone else has already asked a similar question and they can simply search the community for the answer.
This kind of collaboration is extremely helpful for current customers who are using your product every day, but it’s also incredibly illuminating for prospects. Imagine if you’re a prospect and you see this type of transparency and help. It doesn’t matter how good your sales team is - your community and your current customers also can help sell your product. All of this information automatically writes back to your CRM, ensuring you always have the clearest picture of your customers.
You also learn who your biggest advocates are. By observing your community and tracking engagement, you learn which customers are your product champions. Don’t let this knowledge go to waste - cultivate your organization’s relationship with them by creating customer advocacy programs and gamification. When you have a new product, ask these people for feedback, or include them in the welcoming process for new customers.
2. Integrated with support systems
Unfortunately, customers can’t always help other customers. But that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Customer communities are great at helping people figure out smaller problems, which leaves more time for your support team to work on larger issues.
Many community platforms integrate with ticketing and support systems, in addition to integrating with your CRM. That means customers can easily create a support ticket with the click of a button - and the support team can see the entire discussion thread. That way they can get to the meat of the issue rather than rehashing suggestions the customer already got from fellow customers on the community.
Some people worry that communities will make customer support teams obsolete, but that couldn’t be farther from the truth. Instead, it’s important to see the community and the support team as partners, tag-teaming to give customers the best experience possible.
By integrating your customer community with a support system, you become more than ‘just a support system.’ You also create a more data intelligent environment regarding how your customers use your product. That data is valuable product feedback and can help improve the overall customer experience. It’s a chance to recognize and help customer advocates and champions succeed, which in turn helps new and not-as-involved customers get help and shine, too.
You don’t need to be a data scientist or have someone on staff to make sense of the numbers and find value in them - even tracking basic metrics, such as discussion activity and comments, can help your organization make important business decisions.
Communities give you both excellent qualitative data and a glimpse into your customer’s thoughts, but they also give you excellent quantitative data, especially when you integrate your community with complimentary platforms and software. Unlike free platforms, like Facebook Groups or LinkedIn, when you integrate your private customer community with your CRM or support system, you own that data and know exactly what’s going on.
3. Learn what to fix and where to expand
Beyond creating a better in-the-moment customer experience, communities give your organization something very valuable - a ton of data - especially if it’s integrated with your existing CRM.
First, you can learn a lot about your customers, by seeing who participates. Second, you can learn a lot about how they use your product and services by seeing how they participate and watching discussions. How do they solve problems? Is there a process that continually stumps people, or a feature that’s constantly being requested?
4. Leverage data to its full extent
Communities help your customers solve problems and connect with one another. But they also help customers connect with you and interact in a space that writes data back to your CRM, giving you the clearest picture possible of your current customers.
Data is powerful - it allows you to make informed business decisions and steer your company in a positive direction. What better way is there to get data about your customers than from a platform they go to for help and collaboration?