3 Ways an Online Community Improves Customer Support

Phil Garbrecht

Online communities can improve the overall customer experience for your brand’s consumers, and they can support brand growth. Mature communities usually earn 70% of their traffic from search engines — they’re a solid place consumers can land and they offer real value. Though you may be familiar with these benefits and others like them, understanding when you’re most likely to put your community to use is a crucial part of building and maintaining your brand’s online community.

Most communities are conceptualized as a way to improve customer support: Maybe the brand creates complex products that constantly evolve and an FAQ page isn’t enough, or maybe the customer care team is simply overloaded and more customer resources are needed. But no matter how or why your online community begins, there are always more ways you can use your brand’s community to improve the customer experience.

Below, we’ll detail three key ways your brand can use your online community to improve customer support, including providing a forum for community support agents, offering peer-to-peer support, and putting automated features to good use.

You can find out even more about what a Khoros-powered community could do for your brand in our blog post.

Community support agents provide a better customer experience than traditional agents

Communities can act as a supplement to (or even eventually a replacement of) more traditional support channels like phone and email. With community customer service, care agents become one of many lines of support that also includes other customers and peer experts as well as saved and stored content from previous care interactions (more on this below). Care agents still serve a crucial role: they’re the ones who can help with issues peers can’t address, and as the professionals, they ensure community members receive timely responses. But consumers have many more options and lines of support with community customer service than they do with traditional care channels, something consumers clearly prefer: while phone support has only a 42% consumer satisfaction score, many brands, like Centrify, earn customer satisfaction ratings as high as 92% for their community customer service.

Another effective form of support in online communities are moderators. Brands often enlist moderators to enrich the community experience for their customers. Moderators are like the “neighborhood watch” of a community: They see how everyone is interacting and ensure codes of conduct are being followed, but they can also offer support. If they see a user who needs help, they can notify a support agent who can jump in. And while agents have a single, prioritized to-do list, moderators have the ability to identify and respond to specific posts, as well as the ability to manage multiple streams of conversations simultaneously.

Supporting varying types of customer care is one of the ways that online communities offer unique, holistic care. More details about how to effectively connect your brand’s customer care agents, community managers, and moderators can be found here.

Peer support achieves cost-savings and builds trust

One of the biggest brand benefits of peer support is that it reduces support costs for the brand. Digital mobile experience brand Jawwy saw those savings first-hand after building their Khoros-powered community: their strong peer-to-peer network has saved the brand 1.4M+ in annual support costs.

Another benefit of a community-supported peer-to-peer network is that peer content is more trusted by users than content coming directly from a brand. We found that 75% of customers actually view interacting with other customers in an online community as a valuable experience in and of itself. A brand’s reputation is now determined by their community — think ubiquitous online reviews — and the more your brand can do to support your peer network, the better you can expect your reputation to be.

Automated online community features benefit both customers and brands

Automated online community features like community syndication, improved search results, group hubs, and more, reduce brand support needs. Even large customer-facing companies that have 1,000+ digital agents still struggle to meet ever-increasing care demands.

Not only can automated features reduce your brand’s support needs, they can also help your brand meet the needs of users who prefer self-care. And, according to Forrester Consulting, that may be a majority of your customers. They found that 72% of customers prefer to start with online resources before they ever contact a brand directly for support, and making sure that they find useful information is crucial to their customer experience.

Automated features don’t need to replace care agents, but they can solve for the simple questions that bog agents down, much like an interactive FAQ page might. Automated features can also search content in the community to provide customers with answers faster. As an online community grows and users interact on it, the information contained within it grows, refines, and specializes. Community members also create valuable content by finding innovative ways to use products and generate new ideas. To learn more, read our whitepaper: How Online Communities Improve Every Stage of the Customer Journey.

Our new Community Syndication capability allows brands to embed the best support content wherever users are, including support pages on websites. Our capabilities will transform a lot of the ticket creation, documentation, and FAQ drudgery from static experiences that have to be managed by brands into dynamic experiences built by users, for users.

Your brand can use an online community to offer a more robust customer care experience for your audience while also saving costs and building trust with peer networks. Automated features can effectively support all of these efforts. To find out more about what a Khoros-powered community could do for your brand, and to learn more about our recently-launched community features, see our recent blog post.

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