Community Management: Gazing Into Our Crystal Ball…
As the celebrations of New Year are but a distant memory and 2019 settles in around us, we look ahead to what will be another important growth year for community management.
2018 saw a lot of lightbulb moments for many organisations who finally started to dig deeper into what an online community really was, and what it could offer. It was fantastic for us to speak to lots of new businesses who wanted to drill down further into what a community could do for the whole organisation and the value that could bring.
The term community management is continuing its shift for many from an interesting outlier and “something we should get round to”, to a genuinely powerful value proposition that can be positioned at the heart of a company. 2019 will see a significant upward drive from many organisations taking that next step in investing in community management and reaping the rewards of doing so.
Let’s take a look at community management in 2019.
The Heartbeat Of An Organisation
Perhaps the most significant shift of community management in 2019 will be the shift in the mindset of where a community sits. Historically, it’s not unusual for communities to be seen as a small department that doesn’t really have much connection with the rest of the organisation. Either that or a sub-strata of a more traditional area of the company such as Marketing or HR that acquired this parenting role because no one was quite sure where else to put community.
As the value of a community is becoming clear, smart organisations realise that the community should be the very centre of the company structure. The heartbeat.
Sound fanciful? Let’s drill down in more detail.
For most brands, the community is synonymous with the customer. It’s one of the earliest touchpoints you have with your audience and one of the best ways to develop a truly ongoing relationship.
It might not (yet) encompass all of your customer service interactions, but it is living and breathing 24/7 solving problems, answering questions, collating information, creating engagement and generally becoming a vital interaction point between the company and the user.
Unlock The Power Of Positioning
When we then move the community from an externally facing silo to the centre of the company, magical, wonderful things begin to happen. No longer is the community simply adding value just to customers, it is adding value throughout the organisation. Here are some examples:
Customer feedback is captured and used to create new marketing materials that specifically address the needs, desires and expectations of the customer. For existing customers, marketing can retain, reward and go the extra mile to give customers more than they were expecting.
The HR team are able to capture customer satisfaction levels, and key feedback comments, and use it to support the wider team in ensuring people are rewarded for their work, or given early support or training when they need it.
Should a product or service create a potential legal issue, the community can be used to flag this issue early, generate useful experience data and allow the legal team to produce guidance for the customer service staff on how to proactively deal with customer complaints. Many companies feel blindsided when issues build quickly and the large wave finally crashes over them with little knowledge. A community can raise these issues early.
Companies swim in data and customer experience feedback. When a community is at the heart of the company, this data is available to every single member of the organisation at any moment of the day.
Senior stakeholders are often time poor and under constant stress, so whilst the idea of “lots of data” sounds great, having to delve into it can be complex and is often left for another day. Guess what? That day never comes.
Communities offer a solution. Imagine being able to quickly and clearly be able to generate a dashboard for the heads of every department and the upper management.
Each dashboard is customised specifically to what their goals and objectives are and provides live (or extremely regular) updates on what customers are saying, with the option to share insight and deep data with any member of the organisation, instantly.
This is entirely possible for a community-led organisation.
Smart organisations who position the community as the key piece of their growth will thrive in 2019.
Communities are no longer outliers. They are no longer forums where customers may feel like they are shouting into a black hole.
Communities in 2019 are essential. They add exponential value across an organisation in every direction, benefiting customers and making staff more informed, more in tune with the customer, and more potent in their strategic planning and execution of actions.
Community Management in 2019; time to get started.