For those of you who might not know us, welcome to the Standing on Giants blog. Here, we’ll be posting articles about our team’s community experiences, how we do what we do and how it might help you too. We’ll start with some more general community topics and then focus more on detailed elements of community management as we go on. Feel free to comment below after the article and we can chat about your community work. Let’s get started!
A successful online community is an asset to any organisation when it is managed in the right way, uses the right methodology and works towards a clear purpose (more on purpose at the end).
But how can community members really help an organisation and its inner workings, profits and innovations? At Standing on Giants, we talk about the virtues of communities every day, so I thought I’d run through 4 high-level benefits to inspire you in your own organisation…
This is one of the first benefits companies start noticing or indeed focus their entire efforts on. Standing on Giants’ founders created the giffgaff community, a multiple-award winning example of a working customer service community. One of its primary roles was to enable customers to help one another when they experienced non-account related issues or had questions about the product or service. We engaged frankly with those who wanted to learn more about the brand and the way we wanted to run the company with the community at its core. Using our methodology we were able to attain 50% less customer service costs, a NPS of 75+ and a CSAT score of 70. More than 75% of queries were solved by other members. And even the entire knowledge base was created and curated by its members.
Building a reputation is like building trust – it takes years to build and can be lost very easily. A good reputation is hard to maintain for any organisation in the online world, but your community can help out. Building a strong and open network through engaging your community creates a real human connection and builds trust with your customers. When you establish mutual trust, you also establish advocacy. Be open about issues when you can. If you make a mistake and learn from it, that’s ok to talk about too with your members. We’ve seen members in our communities defend brands during times of crisis and provide others with constructive insight which helps maintain a positive brand reputation, but also helps to resolve a negative experience. Building trust through community management is not easy and requires a high-level of respect for strategy. It’s an incredibly rewarding element to cover when done in the right way however. Here’s a quote from one of our communities recorded during a larger issue that show this in action;
“..at least give them a chance to get it sorted, it’s not been that long. I love my network, yes there are glitches but what network doesn’t, and at £20 per month it’s the best value by a long shot.”
Product development can often be an expensive and time-consuming process. With a strong and trust-filled community, success can be easier to predict and achieve.
By working on products together, you can use your community as testers, providing members with real involvement, increasing advocacy. At O2 UK, we worked with a very small group of members to BETA test a new product. We thought about who would be good testers, who would provide the best feedback and who really cared about what we were working on. With a core group of 5, we were able to test the product, improve it, and continue a loop of feedback between the business and company. They created 17 how-to guides for the product before it ever released to the public. For no extra cost to the business, we were able to test & improve a product, prepare the first generation of support material for it and ensure new customers had what they needed.
We now know engaged community members stick around for longer, spend more money and refer others to a brand more often. We’ve seen this happen at both giffgaff and Airbnb and it comes down to being part of a community in more than just a customer capacity. Our community members at giffgaff referred their friends to the brand 50% more than non-active members (and that’s including the fact that all customers could earn money from referrals). Highly-engaged members referred the brand to an average of 40 other people. When we asked active members why they referred friends, it was for the community experience. You don’t just get good prices, you get a great place to spend your online time and a place to contribute to something.
It’s not just about referrals though, its a place to belong – If a member on giffgaff makes a single post, they’re 31% less likely to churn after a year. That number goes up to 41% if they read 5 pages or more. Not bad numbers.
However – A clear purpose is key…
These benefits are great, but the preparation undertaken before any of our communities launch is fundamentally important. The main thing to agree is the community’s purpose. Is it for support? Innovation? Development? Feedback? Content creation? Ideation? All of the above and more?
The thing you want your community to achieve will determine how you engage with members, what kind of platform you’ll need, what business integration work is needed and what resources you’ll need to run it. A clear purpose and goals that achieve that purpose will help any launching community project in the long run. Ascertaining a clear purpose may even make you realise that a community is not the best way to go, and that’s ok too.
Feel free to comment below and we can have a chat about any of the above! I’d love to chat to anyone who is working on their community project – whatever stage you’re at.
Community Business Developer
“I’ve been part of the Standing on Giants’ team since its launch but started my career at giffgaff. I then spent a number of years working as O2UK’s community head where I worked very closely with their highly-engaged member group. I now help other organisations realise the power of community – Something I love doing. Community behavioural analysis and member profiling are my passions and I really enjoy settling differences for the common good.
When I’m not working, you’ll find me watching sci-fi, walking my dogs and exploring old antique stores but never buying anything.”