Talk to me, baby! Tell me what’s happening.
Dialogue, rather than monologue, is the way to move beyond engagement towards a marriage-like relationship with your customers. Marriages are never fun when one partner becomes a wall, while the other keeps talking at it. Dialogue is key. Meet ASOSIO: the pill you need against communication issues when the traditional customer relationship is falling apart.
Customers are individuals connected around a product or a service. Companies are the ones that should make sure their customers know that they share a similar interests and needs with other people too.
The power of communities
We all want to belong to something. Online, we are all part of communities, they are what connect us together with other people through interests, needs, supported causes and other commonalities. In today’s digital world, we connect with these communities through social media on digital platforms.
Communities are important for the user, but also for the company.
If companies are successful in creating organic communities, it will provide them with a opportunity to gather feedback from customers. They can do so by both interacting and also passively noticing the unfolding interaction.
Don’t let me talk by myself, please!
Unfortunately, too often this interaction takes place on a one-way communication channel, where the company makes announcements about new products, new features, events or other type of news. Very few companies take the time to reply to their customers’ comments or allow the customers to interact with each other. If the customer is fortunate enough to get a reply, it is often just a sentence or a like — rarely does it lead to fruitful conversation.
Benefits of two-way communication
By allowing and encouraging organic engagement in the conversation with-and between customers, companies can learn to speak a common language. By doing so, they enhance the relationships between themselves and the customers, between the customers and the product and among the customers. Let’s see what exact benefits we have for these three types of relationship.
Firstly, the brand is enhanced. Cherishing customers’ opinions, being on the same wavelength as your customers and listening to their needs is a strong way of building a brand. Not only will this improve the customers’ attitude towards the product or service, it will also have a positive effect on their perception of the company itself.
Secondly, existing customers become product advocates and bring in new customers. Moreover, potential customers could use the generated forum content to decide whether or not they will buy the product or service. The customer-product relationship can also be enhanced by some customers sharing new ideas about the use of a product. In this way, the ‘value for money’ of a product can have great growth potential in the eyes of the other customers.
For better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and health, until death do us part.
Thirdly, a valuable place for announcing new products is created and feedback can be gathered prior to launch. This is a chance for the company to dip its toes into the unknown waters, without having to abandon the safety of the shore. Moreover, inquiries and questions about existent products are also affected by this approach. They are more likely to be solved by the hand of other engaged customers, instead of the customer support team. In the worst case scenario, the unsolved inquiries would end up in customer support, which, if transformed into a forum-channel type, will highly decrease the overall cost compared to traditional techniques.
Creating a forum for discussion
Like mentioned before, encouraging dialogue among customers, but also between company and customers, is crucial in building a community around a product/service. Big companies like IBM or Adobe are have already developed Q&A forums around their products to facilitate customer support.
Yet ‘user to user’ interaction requires much more than mere Q&A. US mobile operator Ting understands this. Not only they have a Q&A forum, but they also facilitate the creation of connections among their users. On their “Buy & Sell” board, users can offload or pick up cellphones from each other. On “Hacks”, users swap tips on cool apps, saving data and so on. On “Feature Requests”, Ting specifically leverages the community to drive product development.
Giving customers a platform allows for elaborate interaction dynamics. While community creation is a complex process, it doesn’t have to be an impossible one.
Listening to what customers are buzzing about and learning from it is the way to effective product development, as marketing gurus keep advocating. The better you understand these messages, the better and longer your “marriage” becomes.
Building healthy communities from scratch means finding the platform, making sure it is easy to pick up on and figuring out how to make the most of it. By “making most of it” I mean building both company-customer interaction and customer-customer interaction. Such customer relationships will last longer than the platinum jubilee wedding anniversary (yeap, that’s 70 years).
ASOSIO— next gen social media
Asosio is a new community-focused platform, combining the communication structures of a classic forum combined with the ease of using social media. Information can be shared and categorised easily, courtesy of a minimalist Danish design. To top it up, it enables the user to decide what they want to focus on and avoid irrelevant information. It goes like this:
After deciding the privacy settings of the new community, the moderator creates walls. Walls keep information organised by topic. So for a product community, some relevant walls could be: “New Products Out Soon”, “Feedback on Existing Products”, or “I got an Idea!”.
Walls allow users to create posts, events and share files. These simple features and the ease of interaction give companies the tools to build communities around their product/service and harvest the benefits of two-way communication.
My dear friends, ASOSIO is waiting. It is free and ready to use. And it comes with a message:
Don’t just shout, talk to your audience, wait for replies, enter the conversation. Interact! Tap into your main resource and co-create value with the people who make you who you are.