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Enhancing Customer Experiences Through Online Communities

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Enhancing Customer Experiences Through Online Communities

CommLab India has conducted an online research of stakeholders involved in eLearning and training. To the question if Networked Online Learning Communities will enhance learning, about 87% of the respondents agreed that there would be substantial benefits from online communities.

The potential for the online communities and social technologies is huge. It can benefit, not just employees, but external stakeholders such as dealers, distributors or business partners; In my mind, the area where there is a huge opportunity is the area of “Customer Service”.

Increasingly organizations are shifting focus from Customer Relationships Management (CRM) to Customer Experience Management (CEM). Online communities can really make significant contribution in the area. Organizations can build and establish the technological framework to engage and interact with customers.

McKinsey Global Institute calls it ‘Social Technologies’. IBM Institute for Business Value terms it as ‘Social Business’. Both researches have emphasized the need to integrate social media into the communication and knowledge sharing platforms, within the organization, for the benefit of internal as well as external customers.

The figure below, taken from the McKinsey report lists 10 ways social technologies can benefit the organization.

10 Ways Social Technologies can Benefit Organizatio

A similar research by IBM Institute for Business Value echoes the findings of McKinsey report, while detailing the benefits organizations can get by creating Social Business Platform for employees, as well as external stakeholders. The figure below is taken from the report is self-explanatory.

Social Business

IBM’s report suggests the following:

  • A governance process that oversees community’s operations.
  • Appointment of community moderators in a systematic manner.
  • Building ‘critical mass’ of external stakeholders who need to be part of the community.
  • Quick response time to customer queries, complaints and potential business opportunities.

Key findings from the research done by CommLab, corroborates with the suggestions made by IBM. Respondents felt that the entire system needs to be monitored and moderated, on a regular basis. This is crucial for the success of any collaborative effort. Typical hurdles that they need to overcome are :

  • Initial technological investment
  • Support from management
  • Availability of manpower

There is no doubt that social technologies offer huge potential for organizations to build and develop their relationships with their customers. What do you think about the feasibility of such online communities? Is it practical in your organization? Do share your thoughts.

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