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Online Communities – An Important Part of Customer Engagement

Verint’s acquisition of Telligent, a leader in software for customer support, underscores the growing importance of customer and employee communities as an important part of customer engagement and employee collaboration.Girl_with_questions_resized

Long before the emergence of digital media or electronic communications of any type, consumers relied on friends, family, and members of trade or social communities for product information. Even today, despite estimated 2014 expenditures of $180 billion for paid media, personal contacts remain the most credible source for product information. The big difference today versus yesteryear is that communities are no longer constrained by geography.

With near universal access to the Internet and the widespread adoption of mobile data devices, online communities can exist anywhere. They range in size from the dozen or so members of a local chess club to the hundreds of millions that daily check in with Facebook, Twitter and other popular sites.

Online communities allow members to share information and exchange ideas over multiple digital media and devices. Recognizing their importance to establishing and maintaining brand preferences, businesses are forming their own digital communities. From a marketing perspective, vendor-sponsored online communities foster loyalty while developing legions of brand ambassadors. These loyal followers also represent an excellent source of business intelligence. User forums, product ratings, and voice of the customer feedback keep manufacturers and service providers abreast of promising new uses and provide a timely heads-up on possible product deficiencies or compliance issues.

The other important advantage is reducing the cost of customer service. A “digital first” approach encourages consumers to get answers and solve problems on their own before accessing more costly channels. As consumers continue to self-serve and seek perspectives from peers, the importance of social communities has grown. Marketers are turning to social communities to infuse new digital content, advance social experiences, and take action based on the ability to track and analyze buyer behavior and site activity.

Finally, online communities can play a valuable role in improving employee collaboration and communications. With project teams spread out over different locations, a dedicated task-oriented online community is an excellent way to share information, encourage participation and coordinate efforts over multiple time zones.

Elements of successful online communities include dedicated websites, blogs, wikis, calendars, forums, Q&A’s, ratings, featured content, notifications and others. Telligent is an established technology leader in this nascent field. The company provides the design platform, technology relationships, and domain expertise businesses need to launch their digital communities. Verint Systems, with its coherent customer engagement optimization vision and industry-leading suite of applications—now augmented by Telligent technology—is ideally positioned to help its thousands of customers leverage online communities to grow revenues and reduce customer support costs.

The post Online Communities – An Important Part of Customer Engagement appeared first on Customer Experience Management Blog.

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