The #1 Reason To Be Grateful For Customer Communities

Steve Hamrick

While November is traditionally viewed as a time to give thanks, expressing gratitude is an act that should take place year-round.

One technology that businesses should be particularly grateful for – no matter what month the calendar says it is – is customer communities.

There’s no shortage of reasons to be thankful for customer communities, either – from enabling companies to better understand their buyers to improving how organizations meet ever-evolving customer expectations.

But the primary reason that customer communities prove to be so valuable for businesses is the fact that they can support buyers throughout the entire customer journey, during the pre-purchase, purchase, and post-purchase phases.

Make it easier for customers to discover and explore

The pre-purchase phase of the customer journey is when potential buyers begin discovering and exploring your company or products. At this point in time, it’s crucial that these individuals have access to the information they need to influence decisions and drive sales.

Your business can achieve this – all while minimizing early customer dropout – with the aid of a customer community.

Customer communities provide ample opportunities to educate prospective buyers with both user- and brand-generated content, including ratings and reviews, Q&As, FAQs, and other helpful information.

More importantly, they can help ensure that the content your business delivers is timely and relevant, according to where the customer is in his or her journey.

Collecting data via your customer community can allow your company to gain an in-depth understanding of your buyers so your staff can create more personalized marketing materials or promote more relevant community-generated content.

People need confidence to push that “buy” button

A purchase is only initiated after your customer has been convinced that the product or service he or she is about to buy will meet expectations.

Customer communities play a key role in providing the kind of content your customers need to instill confidence and make more informed purchasing decisions.

According to the October 2016 commissioned study, “Supporting the Online Customer Journey through Communities,” conducted by Forrester Consulting on behalf of SAP, 70% of companies that use customer communities estimate that their buyers have high confidence levels.

This increase in buyer confidence will translate to lower customer dropout rates, higher sales numbers, and more revenue.

Keep customers coming back for more

Think when a sale’s over, your job’s done? Think again.

Your business needs to nurture its relationship with customers post-purchase. That means resolving any product issues they may encounter or answering any questions they might have.

A customer community can be an invaluable post-purchase tool in this regard. By publishing how-to articles, troubleshooting guides, and other helpful content, your business can expect product return rates to drop and customer satisfaction rates to rise.

Manage to do all this, and you could earn that one thing that all businesses so desperately crave from their customers: their undying loyalty.

Meet buyer needs at any given moment

Companies must aim to please their customers at every step along the buyer journey.

If you’re not providing prospects with timely, relevant information during the pre-purchase phase, they could drop out right then and there.

If you’ve failed to instill confidence in your prospective shoppers, they’ll never push the “buy” button.

And if you don’t continue to assist your customers in the post-purchase phase, you can kiss future sales and customer loyalty goodbye.

Explore all the reasons to be grateful for customer communities in this free Forrester Consulting thought leadership paper, Supporting the Online Customer Journey Through Communities.