In spite of early skepticism about the business value of online communities their popularity and adoption has been growing significantly in recent years. Social networks such as LinkedIn, Facebook and Pinterest have been leading the way as digital technologies continue to transform our lives and businesses. Today, digital business is an imperative and organizations without a digital transformation strategy in place are at a significant competitive disadvantage compared to their digitally savvy counterparts.
One of the key manifestations of the new digital reality is the way organizations engage, communicate with, and extend relationships with their customers, suppliers, partners and employees. Increasingly organizations are moving away from one-way, portal-centric interactions and conversations to more socially engaging alternatives that facilitate brand advocacy and peer-to-peer collaboration to achieve business outcomes.
Research from a variety of industry watchers such as Gartner Group and IDC shows that customers trust the opinions of other customers more than company sources or even industry opinion-leaders. Harnessing this power of people, with common interests connecting and engaging through customer and/or product reviews, word-of-mouth referrals and problem solving, can be a powerful force for companies.
Although early use cases and the return of investment for online communities centered primarily around customer service, the proliferation of digital technologies has led to the emergence of other viable use cases with robust value propositions, and most notably a customer engagement use case.
Recent data from Perficient, a Salesforce.com cloud alliance partner, shows that clients who have implemented online communities are achieving a 48% increase in employee engagement, a 45% increase in customer satisfaction, and a 43% increase in partner sales. As a result of 48% faster case resolution, Perficient clients also continue to see substantial benefits from their customer service and support use case.
While companies should have a presence on the open social networks such as LinkedIn and Facebook, owned online communities provide more control and flexibility for engaging with customers, partners, employees and other target audiences aligned with organizational and brand strategy and objectives. These branded, and typically closed or private communities, put the power of social communication and collaboration under your control, helping you compete more effectively in today's competitive marketplace.
If you are ready to embrace online communities as the next big engagement opportunity for your business, or interested in learning more about the value and benefits of online communities, we would welcome the opportunity to learn more about your specific needs and share our thoughts as to next steps in your digital customer engagement journey.