Co-founder and COO of Tribe. Empowering the new generation of brand-led online communities with social interaction best practices.
It’s important for humans to be part of a community — vital even.
Communities have been behind the scenes throughout human history, synthesizing and refining our visions of the future. Naturally, people come together to share knowledge, support each other and create the necessary tools to survive change.
We can easily see how our human drive for social connection has helped to advance the products and tools we love.
That’s why, for many companies, brand-led customer communities have become an integral part of their growth story. This is further amplified in modern software as a service (SaaS) companies since there is tremendous scope to offer social touchpoints across the customer journey.
I’m talking about customer loyalty that can end up defining the brand and access to insights that you’d otherwise empty your wallet for — self-propagating content made by users for users and a direct line of communication to the people that matter most to your business.
You’re reading this, so I can assume:
1. You are launching a SaaS company and want to do everything you can to become successful.
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2. You have a SaaS company with an existing customer base but do not yet have a community built around your brand.
It doesn’t matter if you’re one or the other. Every company already has some kind of customer conversation going on. That’s because people talk. And if it’s happening in a group created by a customer or a different forum, you’re missing out on the power of community.
Why not bring the conversation to you — or, better yet, facilitate it?
Benefits Of Having A Customer Community For A SaaS Product
One of the most appealing parts of community happens to be the warm and fuzzy feelings you get when you’re part of something. Everyone is helping each other, sharing inside jokes and creating a strong bond.
It is delightful to see people alleviating each other’s frustrations and sharing ideas. They are not going through it alone, come success or failure. People know it. They can feel it. It humanizes your brand. You constantly engage with customers to make them successful, solve their issues and then move forward together.
So, here’s a breakdown of the key touchpoints required to create an integrated and thriving community:
Mediocre customer service is the No. 1 reason people get frustrated and leave. Providing stellar service to all of your users begets a lot of pressure. One way to relieve the pressure is to share the load.
And in communities, your veteran users are more than happy to do that. Your service team doesn’t get drowned in tickets, and your users feel good about helping others. So, introduce your customers to the community by showcasing it during onboarding, in emails and in prominent places on your website.
Also, consider adding a link to the community right inside your product when people are looking for help. This can be further amplified by integrating community content deeply into your help menu and support content.
Go beyond usage stats and find out what your users think about your software. Get to know their needs, their complaints, their hopes and their dreams — all in their own words.
Create a dedicated space inside your community to facilitate these discussions. Note that you have to strike a balance between letting the discussion flow on its own and giving direction to the conversations.
The key here is to always close the loop and communicate any progress on the feedback and suggestions shared by your customers.
Customer Onboarding And Education
Do you have training material to help your customers and share best practices? Leverage your community to centralize the content used to educate customers. For example, you can create a space inside your community to host or link materials such as videos, webinars, blogs and guides.
Many customer communities created by SaaS companies also feature a knowledge base built by the internal team. During onboarding, you can share all these resources so that customers have everything they need to be successful.
When customers answer questions through your forum, share their experience or offer general feedback on your products and services, that’s a whole lot of value for your users and your company.
This makes your community a dynamic and interactive knowledge base. Plus, search engines love it. User-generated content tends to contribute well to SEO and potentially garner new, domain-inquisitive prospects.
Share any new feature updates and service improvements that stimulate open discussion, so that you can receive invaluable feedback. It’s also amazing that your customers can be a part of that success, rewarded with a product they influence.
Customers who are deeply moved by community experience go above and beyond to share that warmth through whatever social streams they have. Find out which active customers are helping other members, providing references and creating valuable content. Use your community as a source to recruit customers for your advocacy program.
Ambassadors can be game changers for your company and can offer authentic, organic promotion, brand growth and user support. As a SaaS company, your goal is to sustain and improve this cycle of customer growth driven by social experiences.
Customer Community Drives Loyalty
Customers can get the support they need from your community and enjoy a direct line of communication to voice their feedback in that space. They get access to content resources, educational materials and product discussion (just to name a few). They build networks and stay connected with products through a system built around mutual value delivery — and all this contributes to a delightful customer experience, which drives loyalty and revenue.