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Communities Build Better Customer Experience


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The 6 Stages of the Customer Lifecycle

Your prospective customers trust the opinions of their peers more than they trust even your best-crafted marketing messages. The most effective thing you can do to influence their purchase decision is empower brand advocates to do your word-of-mouth marketing for you.

Communities Build Better Customer Experience The 6 Stages of Customer Lifecycle EngagementDownload this eBook, Communities Build Better Customer Experience - The 6 Stages of Customer Lifecycle Engagement. Learn how you can leverage your community to turn prospects into customers and ultimately into loyal, brand advocates.

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Communities Build Better Customer Experience

  1. Communities Build Better Customer ExperienceThe 6 Stages of Customer Lifecycle Engagement DiscoverAdvocate Evaluate Bond Buy Experience a publication of
  2. The Customer LifecycleImagine this: a young man—let’s call him Joey—is in the market for a sound system.He’s never bought one before, so he turns to Google to begin researching what to buy. ContentsA number of different results pop up. Some of them are paid advertisements. Many ofthem are the marketing sites of various audio equipment companies. Some of them The Customer Lifecycle ....................1are communities – either stand-alone or hosted on a company site – and home to 1 Stage 1: Discovery................................ 3conversations of the people who actually own the sound systems. 2 Stage 2: Evaluate.................................. 5Joey ignores the ads and marketing messages. Like all good Millenials, he’s a skeptic. 3 Stage 3: Buy................................................ 7He does, however, pay attention to the reviews and community conversations. Someof the community members remind him of himself—in their early twenties and with a 4 Stage 4: Experience............................. 9passion for electronic music and loud bass. He makes a buying decision based on these 5 Stage 5: Bond......................................... 11customer testimonials and goes to his local store (Amazon, I believe it’s called) to make 6 Stage 6: Advocate............................. 13the purchase.His new equipment arrives a few weeks later. He has a bit of trouble setting it up, but he Are You Ready to Get Started? ................................ 15returns to the community embedded on the company’s Website, where he finds that heisn’t the first person to have difficulty differentiating between connector cables. Becauseof that, his question has already been addressed and answered. He’s able to set up hisnew system easily and uneventfully.A few months later, Joey decides to waterproof his speakers, but he wants to make surethis won’t cause serious problems. He returns to the community to confer with its armyof employees, super techies, customers, and other people who love to listen to musicoutside when it’s raining. They give him the green light, as well as some useful tips andwaterproofing best practices.At this point, Joey is no longer a one-time customer, but a loyal one who is willing toadvocate for the brand, answer the questions of new prospects, and stick up for the Building A Compelling Customer Experience With A Community: The 6 Stages of the Customer Lifecycle Engagement 1
  3. company when other customers have issues and get upset. The next time he needs a product that the brand makes, he’ll have apropensity to choose it automatically because he trusts the brand to produce quality electronics and be responsive and helpful.Cultivating these types of satisfied, loyal customers is not necessarily an easy task. It requires that you take a comprehensiveapproach to customer experience management. As explored in this paper, there are six stages in the customer lifecycle, andwhen each step is handled correctly by you and the people you work with, your company can deliver an excellent experience thatdrives customers to the next step, perpetuating the cycle.To be successful, you also need to fully leverage the opportunity presented by social. This means going beyond broadcastingmarketing messages to the fan bases you’ve built. You have to truly engage with them at every stage in the customer lifecycle—and in a way that feels personal and relevant to them.Let’s explore the six stages in more detail. Potential Discover Customers Advocate Evaluate Loyalty The Promotions Programs Brand Bond Buy Existing Customers Experience Figure 1. The 6 Stages of Customer Lifecycle Building A Compelling Customer Experience With A Community: The 6 Stages of the Customer Lifecycle Engagement 2
  4. 1 Stage 1: DiscoveryThe first stage in the customer lifecycle is “Discovery.” This is the stage where a potentialcustomer has just realized he has a need that your product or service could fulfill. He mayor may not be aware of your company yet. He’s just beginning to seek out solutions, soyou want to make sure that your brand and relevant products are visible and searchable – Customer communities are:and you can quickly respond to any questions or comments that come your way. • A place to connect customers to each other online to talk about yourThis means having a presence on relevant social networks—Facebook for sure, and productsprobably Twitter, YouTube, and even Pinterest and Slideshare, depending on your • Proactively managed by companiesbusiness. You’re also going to want to have a branded customer community (see sidebar)so your prospects can access the most up-to-date information about your products and • Have strong linkages to social networks, so they can easily sharegain immediate access to your customers, employees, and brand advocates for honest information with like-minded friendsanswers to their questions. • Full of relevant, accurate content provided by people like them, vettedGet Satisfaction is the leading provider of customer communities. Unlike many social for accuracy by the brand, and easilynetworks, Get Satisfaction communities are highly optimized for search engines due accessed so that it’s relevant toto their unique URL structure and huge platform that facilitates customer-driven members’ changing context (shopper, new user seeking service or technicalconversations. So when prospective customers go to Google to begin their Discovery assistance, etc.)process, your Get Satisfaction customer community is likely to show up in the top one ortwo results. (The sidebar on Pampers illustrates how this works.) • Designed to help them assess the trustworthiness of peer answers and commentsCommunity conversations pack a heavy SEO punch no matter where they are, so it’s agood idea to embed them into your Website, landing pages, and eCommerce pages. That • Tightly integrated with the company’s Website so shoppers can easily viewway, your content is sure to turn up when prospects are searching for products, and they social conversations and opinions ashave access to conversations about the products or services they are researching. And they research products on the brand’ssince communities are optimized for response, it’ll be easy for you to identify and respond Websiteto questions that come up. Building A Compelling Customer Experience With A Community: The 6 Stages of the Customer Lifecycle Engagement 3
  5. Pampers Gets Discovery Right!So many new mothers are interested in the question, “How can my child model for Pampers?” that it’s one of the FAQs on thePampers site. Of the 7.9 million results Google reports, the Get Satisfaction community topic page for this question is at the topof the list — ahead of Pampers’ own blog post on the subject, which is result #2.  The unique URL structure of Get Satisfaction,plus the large amount of customer engagement taking place in the community, means it’s extremely likely to rank well in searchresults. Those factors, combined with the strong linkages to the Pampers social presence, means the Pampers community isincredibly easy for prospects to discover and engage with. Building A Compelling Customer Experience With A Community: The 6 Stages of the Customer Lifecycle Engagement 4
  6. 2 Stage 2: EvaluateOnce your potential customer has discovered several good product options, he begins the “Evaluate” stage in the process. In thepre-social era, this might have involved talking to friends and family members, going in to a store to ask employees questions,and seeing what articles or reviews he could get his hands on. Things are not so different now, but the resources and opinionsavailable have been greatly expanded and amplified by social.Your prospective customers now have instant access to the intimate opinions of friends, acquaintances, and complete strangers.They trust the opinions of their peers more than your marketing messages or even those of thought leaders and influencers. 84%of Millenials say social opinions—even from people they don’t know well—influence their purchase decisions 1 . This can work toyour advantage or to your disadvantage, depending on what people are saying online, so you want to make sure you’re activelyengaging with your customers on social to provide them with a good experience.You don’t have to single handedly manage your brand’s social reputation. By actively empowering the most satisfied andknowledgeable customers on your community to act as Champions and speak out on your behalf, you can leverage them tobe a powerful extension of your marketing department. You can do this by incentivizing them, implementing a formal Champsprogram (like the one offered by the Get Satisfaction platform), or even just by asking them to get involved. (Don’t forget to thankthem when you notice that they have contributed to your community.)Your company can’t afford not to encourage and expose these social conversations. And a customer community is the bestplatform to facilitate them in a way that is engaging, outcome oriented, and search-engine friendly. When you use the GetSatisfaction platform to support your community, your prospective customer will be impressed by how easy it is to find and aswell as access the reviews of their peers. At the same time, you can demonstrate how you are to respond to their needs andquestions.1 (Bazaarvoice and Kelton Research, Advertising Age, August 2, 2012.) Building A Compelling Customer Experience With A Community: The 6 Stages of the Customer Lifecycle Engagement 5
  7. Nice’neasy Customers are Their Best MarketersWith something as personal as hair color, it’s important the referral comes from a trusted source. That’s why Nice’neasy uses acustomer community to provide a forum for customers and prospects to share authentic, objective advice and tips around haircolor. In the Nice‘neasy community, 75 percent of the questions are pre-purchase questions; that means most of the communityvisitors are there to ask specific product questions before making a purchase decision. By providing a customer community,Nice’neasy facilitates the conversations that help move the Evaluate process along, without coming across as too heavy-handedor sales-y. Building A Compelling Customer Experience With A Community: The 6 Stages of the Customer Lifecycle Engagement 6
  8. 3 Stage 3: BuyNow that your prospective customer has evaluated your products and those of your competitors, he feels like he’s ready to makean informed decision. To move your prospects from the “Evaluate” to “Buy” stage (and convert them into customers), you want tofacilitate conversations with as many customers and advocates as possible.You should facilitate these conversations right as they are considering making a purchase. If a potential customer is on thecheckout page of your Website and has a question about whether or not the sound system you make will fit in their customcabinets, for example, you don’t want them to have to leave the page to ask the question and get an answer. By embedding yourcommunity on your eCommerce pages, your prospects can ask questions and get answers from the most trusted sources (theirpeers) quickly and easily without ever leaving the shopping flow.You should also consider bringing entry points to your community (widgets, for you techies out there) to other parts of yourWebsite where they can highlight praise and testimonials. But showcasing your happy customers, prospects will be more likely totake the plunge and go with your product (rather than your competition’s product). Building A Compelling Customer Experience With A Community: The 6 Stages of the Customer Lifecycle Engagement 7
  9. Kiddicare Makes Converting Prospects into Customers Look EasyKiddicare embeds customer conversations about each product in their community right next to that product on the eCommercepage, so prospective customers can ask pre-purchase questions without ever leaving the product page and disrupting theshopping flow. If prospects want to know whether or not a given car seat will fit in their car, as shown in the figure, they cansearch the community Q&A right next to the product. A number of answered questions pop up, ranging from the general to thevery specific. In this example, that’s because the prospect found the response to her question quickly, easily, and without leavingthe page. And as a result, she’s now likely ready to buy. Building A Compelling Customer Experience With A Community: The 6 Stages of the Customer Lifecycle Engagement 8
  10. 4 Stage 4: ExperienceOnce you’ve successfully converted a prospect to a customer, you want to make sure that their first “Experience” (ok, everyexperience, but the first is especially critical) with it goes well. This will largely determine whether they become a sporadiccustomer, or a loyal, regular customer. Depending on your particular product or service, this first customer experience mayinvolve assembly, installation, or instruction access. By sticking close to them and letting them know that you’re here to help, youcreate a satisfying customer experience that will build loyalty and a positive experience.To this end, the conversations that exist on the Get Satisfaction community platform get indexed automatically by search engines,serving as a social knowledge base (KB) for your customers. Commonly asked questions are likely to exist in this KB already,so when a new customer has a question, they’ll find the answer whether they search for it in a search engine or within yourcommunity.Get Satisfaction automatically searches the archives of existing conversations before letting someone post a new question, socustomers can self-serve getting answers to their questions. This reduces the number of one-off questions for you to answer.And if their question hasn’t been addressed already, they have a whole army of resources—employees, customers, Champions—available to help. All they have to do is post their question in the community, and they’ll receive an email when their question hasbeen answered. That answer will then act as a resource for future customers with similar questions. Building A Compelling Customer Experience With A Community: The 6 Stages of the Customer Lifecycle Engagement 9
  11. Koodo Leverages Champions for a Great Customer ExperienceKoodo is Canada’s most recommended mobile company. They have thousands of happy customers in their community helpingthem respond to questions and generally share the Koodo love—so much so that more than 70 percent of community topics areresponded to and marked answered without any involvement from Koodo employees, and the average time to first response isjust 6 minutes. This fast, responsive community means Koodo customers end up feeling satisfied and supported, even whenthey have issues. No wonder they’re most recommended! Building A Compelling Customer Experience With A Community: The 6 Stages of the Customer Lifecycle Engagement 10
  12. 5 Stage 5: BondNo matter how good your product or service is, there will come a time when a customer has an issue that requires support. Theway that you handle this situation—the systems and processes set up for assistance, the speed and quality of response, therelevance of content available for them on your help repositories—will all impact the way they walk away feeling about your brand.An unhelpful or (worse) unresponsive support team is likely to leave your customers feeling frustrated, disrespected, and in themood to jump back to the Discovery stage in search of an alternative.The flip side, however, is that by providing comprehensive, searchable resources for self-service, you can create an experiencethat will build loyalty and goodwill towards your brand. In other words, they will “Bond.” The social customer doesn’t expect tonever have a service issue with your product. He does expect those issues to be responded to promptly – and through whateverforum or channel he chooses to contact you.Equally important to handling support requests is soliciting, listening, and responding to customer feedback. By doing this, you’reshowing that your company’s innovation is centered around your customers – not the egos, budget, or whims of your productteam. A Get Satisfaction customer community provides a place for product ideas and allows you to mark the status of each as“under consideration,” “completed,” “not planned,” or “recent,” so it’s easy to keep your customers in the loop regarding yourplans. By using your community as a place to solicit and inform product updates, you’re also incentivizing your most engagedcustomers to come to your community, which will drive engagement and the next stage in the lifecycle. Building A Compelling Customer Experience With A Community: The 6 Stages of the Customer Lifecycle Engagement 11
  13. Applegate & their Customers. A Love Affair.There’s no question about whether or not Applegate is a beloved brand. This organic meats company prides itself ontransparency with its customers—and no question goes unanswered in its thriving customer communities. In fact, 35 percentof the topics in their community happen in the “Bond” phase in the customer lifecycle. These are customers who come tothe community to a build relationship with the brand and the other advocates, and in doing so, share their love and praise forApplegate. Building A Compelling Customer Experience With A Community: The 6 Stages of the Customer Lifecycle Engagement 12
  14. 6 Stage 6: AdvocateIn the social era, customer advocacy is the holy grail of marketing. You need to have systems in place to identify brand“Advocates” and champions, to incentivize them to speak to prospects, and to highlight their praise in relevant places on yourWebsite.You’ll want to make sure that when customers are advocating on your behalf on social networks like Facebook or Twitter, youhave a way to preserve those conversations in a way that is searchable and engaging. A Get Satisfaction customer communityintegrates with HootSuite, so you can import praise and advocacy from multiple social channels right into your community.This extends its shelf life, makes it discoverable by search engines, and provides a forum for other customers to join in theconversation as well. Building A Compelling Customer Experience With A Community: The 6 Stages of the Customer Lifecycle Engagement 13
  15. Mindjet Explodes with Advocates, Expediting the LifecycleMindjet, a company that provides brainstorming and collaboration software, has exploded with customer advocates in a shortperiod of time. They have a team of more than 70 happy customers in their community responding to prospects and customers,expressing their love for Mindjet, and sticking up for the company in times of need. These people are the best source of word-of-mouth marketing content, and they help expedite the customer lifecycle for other customers. Building A Compelling Customer Experience With A Community: The 6 Stages of the Customer Lifecycle Engagement 14
  16. Are You Ready to Get Started?The most admired companies in the world are customer-centric organizations that have operationalized an effective customerexperience strategy. And customer communities can play a vital role in helping to make your business more customer-centric.How? By helping you understand and engage with customers at deeper levels and meet customer needs when, where, and howthey want. Today, over 70,000 companies are using The Getsatisfaction customer communities to engage more deeply with theircustomers and build a better customer experience.Don’t be left behind. Follow the six steps outlined above, and you’ll jump-start your path to true customer engagement and themany benefits it brings. Interested in learning more about how a Get Satisfaction customer community can help you acquire more customers, drive product innovation, and deliver excellent, low-cost social support? 877-339-3997 to schedule a demo, or visit us at Building A Compelling Customer Experience With A Community: The 6 Stages of the Customer Lifecycle Engagement 15