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Community Software is a Game-Changer for Customer Support

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by Lauren Hart Piper , Vice President, Product Management and Marketing,

Community software is designed to help companies build their brand online. Community software is also known as social business software, social enterprise network, and online community software.  Regardless of the term, community software can either be cloud based or installed on a company’s server. Businesses use community software in numerous ways, but the essential feature is the user ability to create an account and the incentive to use one. Often these communities are directed outward at building community among customers and partners, but can just as easily be an inner community that supports teamwork, cooperation and learning among employees.  One area of the business that is being revolutionized by community software is Customer Support.

Implementation

In the most basic form, a user must create an account or profile before being able to interact with the community by asking a question or leaving a comment.  Each time the visitor returns and logs in, they are offered a dashboard or some personalized content suggestions based on personal history. But, in order to build community from this data collection, a site must give community members a way to interact with each other and a value from doing so.

Uses

Businesses are finding innovative ways to use community software to build brand loyalty and increase customer satisfaction. Special offers for community members, rewards and bonuses for participation, and access to specialized content are great ways to make a community enticing and bring people back again and again. The chance to interact with other customers and with your team increases those feelings of engagement and community.

One area that is seeing high implementation of community software is customer support, even technical support. Internet users are increasingly self-sufficient and seek out answers to problems faster than a traditional helpdesk might respond. Harness this by creating a peer to peer based help center with community software. The benefits to this approach improve the experience for the customer and has been proven to reduce costs.

For the customer, searching for immediate answers is often faster than waiting for a help ticket response. When a question hasn’t already been answered, the ability to ask other users for help creates threaded conversations that can be searched later, and when an answer isn’t forthcoming it is easy to escalate a support ticket from the community to the support system like SalesForce Service Cloud.  This frees up call center support and valuable company resources while customers get the help and support they expect.

From the company’s standpoint, peer to peer support offers more benefits while decreasing that customer support costs. The attraction for the company of community software for customer support is that it creates a repository of valuable information, a knowledge base provided by the users themselves.

Other teams in the business are taking this kind of community building seriously as well. In Sales and Marketing, community building is the gold standard for customer engagement. Interacting directly with customers gives marketers the inside track on what their customers are thinking.

Incentives

For the customer or external facing community, take personalization beyond mere updates and gamify member interactions. Create incentives for interacting with your community in the form of points and prizes or giving special recognition to super users.

Customers are more connected than ever before and are surfing fewer sites. In order to break into user’s routines, new sites or communities must offer high quality content that is of immediate use to visitors and incentives to bring them back again and again. Community software gives businesses a greater chance to step into that realm with their customers by building a hub that allows users to interact with the company, other users and gain value in the process.

Enterprise Hive is one company doing incredible things with community software development in the cloud.  With enhanced collaboration spaces that includes embedded gaming mechanics for reward and recognition and global connectors that automatically connects a community to SalesForce, HiveSocial for Customer Support can transform the business workflows of customer support for your company.

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