Your customers have always talked about your products. They talked to their friends. They talked to the guy serving drinks in the pub. They talked to casual acquaintances on the bus. Talking about things they have bought – good or bad – has always be a natural part of everyday conversation.
But it was never possible for brands to be a part of that conversation. Now much of that friendly gossip takes place on social networks such as Facebook or Twitter it is easier to explore, see what people are talking about, and even to engage if your own brand or product is being discussed.
But in some cases, it is possible to go further. To create environments where customers can actively help each other and share tips and tricks related to your products – in a way they can behave like your own customer support team if marshalled into a community.
This article on Zdnet outlines a great example where Vodafone has built a community of customers who use their mobile phone app. The app allows bills to be paid, and call details to be checked – all the functionality you might usually expect from a phone company – but it also allows the user to ask questions to every other Vodafone customer.
That’s right. Instead of asking customer support about your new phone, you can throw the question out to the entire community of users and the ongoing questions, answers, and discussions are all searchable, creating a vast knowledge base of information. Users can search before asking a new question, as it is likely someone has already answered their query.
Customers will help other customers if you create a community that works and makes it easy for them to help each other. And just imagine how many thousands of interactions with the support team can be avoided when your community allows one customer to fix the problem of another – just for the kudos of being seen by the community as an expert.
Photo by Niall Kennedy licensed under Creative Commons