What constitutes a business community?
In business terms, a community is a centralised space where your customers can collaborate with your wider team, and each other, to solve challenges and develop systems and strategies. It not only provides you with a community for your own business (to take answers, recommendations, business practices, and best practice tips from your customers back into your firm), it also establishes you within a broader range of people, industries, companies, and knowledge.
Having a community enables a customer to go to one central location to ask questions. If their question has already been answered, they can see it there, and if others in the community have had great ideas around the challenge they’re looking to solve, they’ll see them there too. Not only around your product or service and its features, but also around best-practice tips, industry standards or practices, and new business and program ideas.
Why is a community useful to your business?
Unless you have a conference or host a webinar your customers are not really engaging with each other, and often, don’t even know who your other customers are. A community offers a constant level of communication and collaboration, where you can find people that are really similar to you, or that use their software and systems similarly to you, and you’re able to collaborate and share insights.
How do you go about setting up a community for your business?
If you want to set up a community for your business there are three, key areas you need to think about.
The first thing you want to do is ask yourself why you want to build the community. For us at Total Synergy, our motivation was to give our customers a space to collaborate with each other and the Total Synergy team — to ask questions, learn, support ideas, and give feedback. It’s important too, that you know why this will help not only your business, but also the people who use your business.
The next thing is to find a good platform or software, which will provide all the tools you need to have in your community and really give you a good foundation. Obviously, you’re going to build upon it, but you need something with a solid infrastructure to start.
You need to have a team that is committed to setting up this community, that have really good business relations, and are willing to take a risk. There’s always a certain level of risk involved with community. Reaching out to customers, knowing who your best advocates are, and understanding that those people will always have challenges when they use your business — but knowing that you’re able to overcome them and give them a platform to be heard and really collaborate with other key customers — is important.
What to be aware of and how to manage your community
To manage a community for your business successfully, you need to be aware that there are always going to be questions and you need to be prepared to answer them directly. Ensure you have a handle on things before you go to your customers and ask them to participate. You need to have everything set up to make it easier for yourself. Things like standard replies and automated processes that will enable your community’s success and encourage engagement. For Total Synergy, that meant having a soft launch with advocate customers, so that when we launched to our wider customer base, there was already activity in the community – that provided great examples of what our community is all about, how to use it, and how to participate.
If you’re an existing customer visit https://community.totalsynergy.com