What happens when online community, social business strategy and digital customer care operations collide? The Social Shake-Up Conference 2013 in Atlanta on September 15-17th is the thought-leadership feast resulting from these key ingredients. This conference is a celebration of how social organizations are creating exciting new ways to connect people within and outside the enterprise — customers, partners and employees. It is especially exciting that online customer community is at forefront of the conversation.
The reason why community is capturing a leading role in this social business conference is because they are the place where essential relationships with key stakeholders develop and flourish. It can be said that successful communities are the heartbeat of the organization.
While it is not news that companies have always needed a close relationship with their customers in order to thrive, many are just starting to see how online communities can enhance and enable stronger customer care. Customer relationships are essential to repeat business, and online communities enable companies to better deliver customer facing functions.
To varying degrees, companies use their communities for six core purposes:
- To help customers get more value from their products and services, which helps customers reduce complexity in their businesses
- To improve their product enhancements
- To develop better new products and services
- To reduce the cost of post-sale service – by having customers help other customers and thus relieve a company of some of the pressure of customer support
- To market and sell their offerings more effectively
- To get control of the social media conversations about their firms
A recent IBM survey (Leading Through Connections, 2012) reported that 1,709 CEOs from over 60 countries believe online customer communities are the second most important means by which they will engage customers in the future (after face-to-face interactions and well ahead of traditional media). But believing in the value and executing with precision are two different issues. In order to succeed, a customer community needs to have both strategic intention and a well-honed operations. But what is the business case? How can I align the community to the strategic objectives of the company? What are the lessons learned and detours to be avoided? How can we scale for efficiency while retaining customer intimacy?
The answers to the hard questions can be found in the practical experiences of community industry veterans who have developed and sustained thriving online community. It is at the Social Shakeup Conference where the community impact conversation will come to life. To get a flavor of the community-related topics, click on the community track and you will see a host of compelling community-related sessions such as Are You Listening? Why No One Is Doing Digital Customer Care Right –moderated by Get Satisfaction’s Wendy Lea, The Value Of Engagement: Building And Maintaining Health Communities moderated by Brent Leary and I will be leading Whose Community Is This Anyways: Scaling Community Management Best Practices Across Global Organization.
If online customer communities are an interest, a passion or a mandate for you or your organization, it may be fruitful to join us at the Social Shake Up Conference in Atlanta – and, of course, we will be online as well #socialshakeup!
Vanessa DiMauro is the founder and CEO of Leader Networks, a research and strategy consulting company that helps organizations succeed in social business and B2B online community building. DiMauro is a popular speaker, researcher and author. With over 15 years experience in social business leadership positions, she has founded and run numerous online communities, and has developed award winning social business strategies for some of the largest and most influential companies in the world. Her work has been covered by leading publications such as the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal and Forbes. She blogs at http://www.leadernetworks.com/blog/.