Why does every B2B company need an online client community?
by Raluca on Oct 25, 2022 6:18:00 PM
Gio Djowinangoen is a Client Success Consultant at Plek for almost a year. Part of his tasks include internal communication with our client community. Gio is the first to share information about software product updates, new Plek features. He also takes care of the community management on GoPlek. In this blog, we dive into online communities using the example of GoPlek. We look at why online communities are still relevant today, at some advantages and challenges, the communication structure, how the future looks for online communities and also what it takes to start one.
Why are client communities important overall?
Referring to a pop-culture saying, “We’re all in this together”, says Gio, (citing here High School Musical). Gio thinks it is essential to engage with clients because that is the way forward to know what companies should be working on. The market now has shifted towards consumer demand. It is no longer the case of companies inserting solutions on the market, but rather consumers asking for the solutions and companies working on providing one. In this sense, Gio mentions that “client feedback is important and also encourages our clients to actively be involved.”
What are communities all about?
The people. “If more people are involved and interested in the decision making, they are feeling more engaged”, says Gio. But it does not stop here. The core of a community also lies in the freedom of expression. “We want people to be able to feel free to express their opinions about our product. If they find something that is not working properly or they have thoughts about what can be improved, they can use in this case GoPlek to let us know what they think.”
What are the main advantages of an online community?
“Getting feedback easily. We used some forms in the past to ask people what their thoughts were about new functionalities. But via an online community it’s much faster and also quicker to react to problems. Clients send us a message via GoPlek or they do a post there. We often answer them there within 5 minutes.” The main advantage that Gio highlights is that an online community can serve very well as an addition to the support department. It can be much easier for clients to reach the company via an online community, which gives them a more personalized experience. And the beauty of an online community lies in the people helping each other. “We often see clients asking other clients for help. Often, it can be the case that some of them faced a similar problem in the past and they can exchange advice.”
What can go wrong?
Just like in everyday life, things can go wrong sometimes. Discrimination, cyber bullying and escapism are among the most popular disadvatanges of online communities found by research. In the case of the GoPlek online client community, Gio dives into an obstacle his team recently faced about a new feature release. When the new start page was launched, his team had a communication plan set in place to share the news with the clients. However, a lot of people were not aware about the new implementation and were taken by surprise, although messages were posted within the client community platform. “We thought that communication with the release notes was a way to reach the entire audience of Plek users. But not everyone read it and was aware of the new changes on the start page. We also saw a lot of negative feedback about the release date and thus, we postponed it. We wouldn’t have noticed all of this without the community platform,” says Gio.
Is a client community just about new updates?
Although many communication messages revolve around the Plek product, Gio emphasizes that GoPlek aspires for more. “We are now working on having more people involved on GoPlek and also inspire our clients. Plek has a lot of features that many don’t know about. We also want to use other clients as an inspiration. We have many clients that are using Plek at its full potential for their company goals and we want to use these cases to drive inspiration for other organizations as well.”
What are some future plans for GoPlek?
“We want to make people excited about GoPlek!”, Gio shares. “We don’t just want to inform people, but actually we wish to inspire them to want to go to GoPlek. We plan to make it as easy as possible for them to ask their questions, rather than just communicating via an email. We also look forward to putting interesting content on the channel to attract people.” Another main point that the community wants to establish is involvement of the clients with the company’s journey and milestones. “We aim to show them what our plans are, what we are working on, our roadmap and that we are actively taking their ideas into consideration and actually implementing them.”
I want to start an online community. What should I do first, Gio?
“You should always start by thinking about the bigger picture. It’s not just about sending information, but about receiving information and feedback. Just like social media nowadays, it’s not only top-down communication, sending out pictures or posts, it’s also about who likes the picture, who engages with your message. I think this is the main difference between a community and all the other communication platforms.”
“GoPlek is a great example on how you can use your communication platform within your company. But it is just one resource. We also have help.plek.co to respond to most frequent questions raised by clients. We use infopages to inspire people. We are also not relying on text format only, but we are making videos and other different types of content to make it more interesting and attractive.”
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