Technical and Product News and Insights from Rackspace
Salesforce® Community Cloud offers a centralized platform for loyal customers, happy employees, and engaged partners. Community Cloud is a Salesforce application that allows your organization to create online forums (communities) where members can communicate with each other and with the organization.
Successful businesses rely on loyal customers, happy employees, and engaged partners. Loyal customers increase sales, satisfied employees ensure the business runs well, and interactive partners—like distributors and sister companies, solidify a healthy professional network.
We asked Megan Truett, our Community-Certified Project Manager, who is also very experienced with Community Cloud, to explain how businesses can use this platform to cater to these three different communities.
Megan says, “While they are all very similar, each of the three versions Salesforce offers in its ecosystem does very different things. Salesforce Community Cloud is excellent in comparison to other platforms with its ability to customize the information sent out to various audiences. It does an awesome job of tailoring the message and the information that companies want to siphon out to their groups, whether that’s employees, customers, or partners.”
Megan has more than 12 years of experience in online community building, client engagement, and social strategy. She knows just how beneficial Community Cloud can be. Here are five reasons why Community Cloud is a must-have for today’s modern business.
According to Salesforce’s “State of the Connected Customer” report, 80% of customers say that the experience a company provides is as important as its products and services. This is not a new development. A 2006 study by McKinsey Global Institute reported that after a negative experience with a brand, more than 70% of customers reduced their commitment to that brand (in many cases decreasing the amount spent with the brand or switching brands entirely). The customer journey is directed by how the customer feels they are being treated.
Customer communities can make your consumers feel connected, heard, and appreciated. Megan emphasizes that “Community Cloud does a really great job of connecting people, in ways that are not necessarily tangible, and manages to keep customers engaged by helping them to find information they need—letting them ask questions and discuss things that are important to them." Businesses with this kind of personalized customer engagement are positioned to thrive.
For example, Farmers Insurance leverages Community Cloud for their online Customer Self-Service (CSS) community. Policyholders can sign-in to this online portal, easily find information, and connect directly with an agent to get assistance. This provides customers with a more personalized experience and makes it easier for agents to assist them.
Megan explains that “the number one question companies need to ask themselves is what are my customers going to get out of this community that they’re not going to get anywhere else? They need to feel like they can participate in it, that they belong in it and that it’s their own.”
Today’s customers expect more than long-winded phone calls and automated recordings. They want to be able to express concerns, talk about their likes and dislikes, and make suggestions to the organization. A customer community makes this possible by providing a digital space that promotes authentic feedback. That is how relationships are built between the organization and the consumer—and that is how consumers become loyal to a brand.
In addition to stellar customer care, successful businesses have found another way to maintain their customers’ loyalty. In a world where 63% of shoppers do not feel like retailers know them, Community Cloud can help organizations increase brand loyalty. By allowing the company to know its consumers intimately, Community Cloud helps to better personalize the customer experience.
“A customer community is great for knowing who your customer is and being able to see trends about them,” Megan divulges. “This is where customers go to and become brand loyal to you and your products and services because they can connect with other people who also enjoy the product. So it’s this wonderful circular connection.” This circular connection works the same as word-of-mouth. One satisfied customer interacts with another, which improves the brand’s reputation and increases customer loyalty.
Megan says, “These brand enthusiasts are crucial to both community and a company’s success … People who are not your company employees and don’t have a monetary reason to be there in your community (but are there) are key people to success. They keep people excited about your product and service, which gives you insider information. They’re your enthusiasts.”
Community Cloud can also set up an employee community, which enhances the relationship between your business and your employees. “Being able to help people connect, especially for companies that are remote or have remote employees, is one of the greatest features of an employee community,” Megan explains. With more companies embracing a work-from-home culture, nurturing virtual connections in the workplace is more important than ever.
Setting clear expectations and having a communication playbook are essential to the success of remote companies and their employees. Implementing an employee community through Community Cloud addresses both of these concerns. Megan explains how well Community Cloud’s customizable platform works for both small and large organizations, “You’ll be amazed at how you ever ran your business without it.”
“An employee community isn’t a place to waste time. Although it’s social, it’s not social media. It’s much more powerful and business-driven than that. It’s a premier way to get business information to people in a timely fashion and efficient manner,” which is the goal of every successful business — especially as the work-from-home culture continues to grow.
Salesforce Community Cloud has the capacity to evolve with your company. “The community itself is always growing, it’s always evolving, it’s living. It’s never like you put it up once and you’re done. You’re always improving it, responding to it, and allowing it to evolve with and for the organization.”
Companies can find themselves stuck with software products that are no longer useful because they’ve outgrown them or developed beyond the technology’s capacity. Salesforce Community Cloud can grow along with your company. Because of its customizable nature, the platform can not only grow with your company, it can also change its data to match this growth. “Community Cloud can follow the strategic vision of your company if you allow it to.” Megan says, “Let the platform respond appropriately to your company’s growth and development.”
A partner community is an external forum where you can share insider information with relevant stakeholders. It is a hybrid between an employee and a customer community focused on keeping your business partners engaged to nurture your organization’s professional network.
Consider your partners' interests and needs when planning a successful partner community. Megan advises, “Whether it’s an employee, customer, or partner community, definitely work with people to find out what they can get in your community that they can’t get anywhere else.”
For instance, you may use your partner community to share detailed and accessible reports, providing the information and insights business partners want. Community Cloud lives within your Salesforce organization, which allows you to use Salesforce to create accurate, detailed, and easy-to-access reports. “For as long as I’ve been working in the community world, I haven’t seen any reports on the other platforms I’ve used come close to Salesforce’s reporting. The Salesforce platform takes data and turns it into great dashboards.”
Effective business partnerships require detailed agreements, clear expectations, and provide mutual benefits. Not only is a partner community a wonderful place to discuss agreements and expectations, but the reporting capabilities Megan describes give you an easy way to reiterate the benefits for all partners involved. Providing your partners with relevant information via dashboards and reports help to maintain a healthy level of communication, so they feel engaged as well as informed.
As business process consultants and Salesforce implementation experts, it is our job to help your organization operate as smoothly as possible. While we recognize that every business has unique processes, we know that all modern companies need three things to survive: loyal and consistent customers, passionate and connected employees, and satisfied and engaged partners.
Salesforce Community Cloud is a platform that can aid in stimulating and promoting all three types of relationships. We are here to partner with you to implement Community Cloud and set up your communities. Reach out to our expert team today. Megan and the rest of our Salesforce certified experts are ready to help your business thrive.
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