The digital era has affected every aspect of our lives, be it professional or personal. Talking about B2B relationships, we can see a clear upswing in customer communities. These online communities have become part and parcel of our lives. These communities not only increase our connectivity but also helps build relationships. These are proving beneficial for businesses too.
In this write-up, we discuss the benefits of creating customer communities in comprehensive detail. Further, we will also provide some successful examples to clarify things. So, keep reading!
Before diving into benefits and examples, let us first understand the basic concept of customer communities. In the simplest term, a community means a group of individuals sharing a belief or characteristic.
When we talk about B2B customer communities, we talk about a well-formed group of customers of a business-to-business organization where the customers can interact with each other. The shared characteristic of the individuals in these communities is that they are customers of the same business product. These individuals are tied together with their trust in the given brand or brand product.
Now that we have discussed the meaning of a customer community, let us proceed to the next step. Why do you need to build a community where your B2B customers can interact with each other?
Well, many successful organizations can vouch for the positive impacts of customer communities on their overall business growth and success. While online communities can have their impact on every aspect of business growth, we can see their direct impact on at least three core areas of a B2B business. These core areas include:
- Customer Service
- Customer Success
- Product Development
Now, let us look at the different benefits you can expect from your customer community if you build it well. It is worth noting that customer communities play significant roles at every stage of a customer lifecycle.
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Benefits of B2B Customer Communities
They Help in Long-Term Content Generation
In this digital era, content has become a strong asset for any business having an online presence. Quite a sizable portion of the marketing and advertising budget is spent on content generation. Online customer communities help you generate a pool of user-generated content. The best thing about this content is that they come at no extra cost. When a community member answers an oft-repeated question for another member, it does not only help that particular person; rather, it becomes an answer for your FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) list. This answer will keep adding value even long after it has been posted. A success story shared by one of the community members can be utilized in multi-channels and attract many more customers.
They Improve Your Conversion Rate
The aim of sharing content and all other inbound marketing strategies converge at a single point – conversion. Every company aimsto improve its conversion rate. There’s no point getting heavy traffic on your website or page if the leads are not converted. An active and thriving customer community helps a business drastically improve its rate of conversion, without any added cost. The majority of customers are skeptical about making a purchase based on what the company says about their product. Words of other customers are given more value. By developing a customer community, you create your brand ambassadors who market your product and service without taking a remuneration. And, the words of these ambassadors are trusted much more than the words of your advertiser.
They Provide Reliable Data
When you closely monitor the interaction between your customers in the community, you can cultivate many useful data. By following your customers’ thread, queries, responses, and suggestions, you can get reliable data about customer health, customer success, customer satisfaction, interaction level, etc. Needless to say, you can utilize these data to improve your product, service, and overall performance level. You must know the importance of data for any B2B company in this digital age.
They Reduce the Burden of your Customer Support Teams
By cultivating a thriving customer community, you can significantly reduce the burden on your customer support team. When you don’t have such a community, a customer will raise a ticket as soon as they get stuck at any point. Your customer support team might need to answer the same query to many customers in a single day. This does not only make their schedule hectic but also makes the task boring. In a customer community, people help each other by responding to their queries. A rough estimate tells that one can reduce the amount of customer support tickets by 50% by having an active customer community.
Examples of Thriving Customer Communities
Finally, it is time to look at some of the best examples of B2B customer communities. These communities are active and keep customers engaged.
Here is the list of some of the best examples –
Adobe Learning Communities
Adobe knows the art of developing customer communities and utilizing them to their full potential. It has developed several online communities providing its customers a chance to connect, share their feedback, and learn from others. The communities are designed in such a way that beginners, as well as professionals, find their place to learn and share. Because there is so much to learn, Adobe communities witness active participation from professionals and novices.
TopCoder is a community for coders. It holds regular competitions and events to keep the community active. It provides coders the chance to compete, collaborate and learn from one another. It is a huge community with more than 678K members. In addition to designers, developers, and data scientists, this community sees participation from big companies too. Members of the community can work collaboratively to solve problems posted by big brands and learn from each other’s experiences.
This gated community for CIOs and IT leaders has been active for around 18 years. The mission of this community is to facilitate relationship-building among global leaders and support them in transforming their respective organizations. They are continually proving their ability to adapt and scale.
Oracle Corporation is among the top leaders in community building. They have several global communities like OTN, OPN, and OracleUser Community. Their communities and groups have been built in various languages to accommodate members from all geographic regions. The communities provide their members with recognition tags that push them to upgrade their levels from newbie to ace director by actively participating in the community. Their communities are very well-organized, with various sub-groups allowing users to interact with others on the same page.
Barista exchange is a global community of people intertwined with each other with their love for coffee. This thriving community has baristas, roasters, coffee farmers, and other coffee enthusiasts as members. One of the main goals of this community is to help business owners promote their coffee-related business among coffee lovers from around the world. You can get some remarkably interesting information about different types of coffee beans around the world and their unique processing styles.
Customer communities can help B2B organizations in many different ways. It is one of the most beneficial inbound marketing strategies that require minimum investment and effort as compared to other traditional methods. Many big companies like Adobe, Cisco, etc., have been utilizing this for an exceptionally long. But, this does not mean that small businesses cannot utilize this method for their benefit. Many small companies have succeeded in creating active customer communities through various social media channels. If you have not yet reaped benefits from your customer community, it is time to do it now.22
We hope the above-discussed concept and the given examples have motivated you enough to build your online community and give your customer life cycle a new life.
Shivani is a talented CS manager with the skillsets to elicit, scope and manage end-to-end B2B SaaS project delivery. She has a keen interest in depicting her learnings in customer success by writing resourceful blogs and articles.
Published April 29, 2022, Updated March 01, 2023