Customer communities. How do they help you get valuable information?

Comunidades de Insights | Insight communities
Ignasi Fernández 8m of reading

Creating a customer community gives you privileged access to your brand’s consumers. There are many reasons to create them, from gathering valuable information for innovation to encouraging recommendation from your brand’s fans. If you are considering creating your own customer community, here is everything you need to know to do so with every guarantee of success.

What are customer communities?

Customer communities are groups of people who come together around a common interest related to a brand. Although these communities can also be formed spontaneously by the customers themselves, they are almost always promoted and managed by the brand itself in order to achieve certain objectives through it.

It is very important to note that a customer community is much more than an audience. Sometimes people refer to their social media follower base, newsletter subscribers and other people exposed to their own channels as their communities. In reality these people are your audiences. For a true customer community to exist, two fundamental requirements must be met:

  • Interaction and collaboration: Unlike members of an audience, community members interact with each other, share experiences, advice and opinions about the company’s products or services.
  • User-generated content: Much of the content in these communities is created by the users themselves, which can include reviews, tips, suggestions and views on new concepts and products.
    Examples of customer communities

The best way to understand what a customer community is and how it works is to explore some well-known communities:

  • Harley Owners Group. Owning a Harley is more than just making a purchase decision. It opens the door to a lifestyle that the Harley Davidson customer community helps you realise through interaction with other riders.
  • Lego Ideas. A site where Lego fans can propose and vote for new designs, giving the brand a constant source of fresh ideas directly from its community of users.
  • Salesforce Trailblazer Community. If you thought customer communities were only for B2C, here’s an example that will change your mind. The Salesforce Community facilitates learning and networking among professionals who use its solutions. And it allows Salesforce to gather valuable information about the use of its products and the preferences of its most engaged user base.
  • Mycook Club. Recipes and tips from users on how to get the most out of your food processor.

Why create a customer community?

There are many reasons to create a customer community, but basically they can be aggregated into three groups:

  • Brand building through communication. An online community can be used by the most engaged customers or users to provide feedback on their use cases, participate in events and encourage others to consider purchasing, expand usage, increase satisfaction and reduce attrition.
  • User-to-user support. The brand can encourage advanced users of a product to help others progress along the learning curve, thereby reducing the amount of resources needed in the official support team.
  • Research and feedback. The community is used to gather valuable information on brand perception, product usage, assessment of new concepts and any other issues that need to be researched.

These needs are not mutually exclusive. Any brand-building community can be used to collect valuable information. However, the characteristics and the way of creating the customer community will depend to a large extent on the main need that we wish to cover.

Insights communities

Insights communities are an evolution of traditional customer communities, where the main objective is to obtain information to make decisions. Insights communities can be used to cover different types of research:

  • Exploratory research. Consumers and users provide information about their habits, their unmet needs, their satisfaction with the options available in the market and opportunities for improvement.
  • Innovation. Buyers or consumers in a category provide ideas for new products through co-creation and collectively assess concepts to identify those that have the greatest chance of success.
  • Monitoring of new trends. Consumers and users of the same segment – e.g. Generation Z – describe their interests and point out new developments that attract their attention before they become massively successful phenomena.
  • Competitor tracking. Users provide information about the competitive environment, such as the experience of using different applications in relation to specific missions, about the shopping experience in different shops or about the presence of the product on the shelves. Thanks to this information, the brand can adapt to the movements of the competition.

Success story of an insights community: the case of Eroski.

To better understand the possibilities of an insights community, nothing better than to look in detail at a practical case study such as that of Eroski. The cooperative wanted to develop a new shop concept, and designed it with We are testers using co-creation with its own customers. Discover all the details in the video of Josu Madariaga and Íñigo Ulibarri’s presentation at the ‘28th week of advanced management’ organised by Euskalit.

Benefits of creating an insight community

An insight community is a methodology that brings specific advantages to the researcher.

  • Flexibility. It is necessary to imagine the community as a container where different types of research can be carried out. A focus group, a survey or a debate on a specific topic can be carried out in the same way.
  • Speed and agility. The fact that there is a community ready and prepared to collect any information makes it possible to enter the field immediately and obtain answers quickly. This speeds up decision making and reduces the volume of discussions based on guesswork.
  • Customer-centricity. Knowing that questions can be raised quickly with the community whenever desired helps the organisation to consider research as an inescapable step in a process that ensures customer-centricity.

How to create your own community of customers

If you want to create your own insights community, there are a few things to consider:

  • Duration of the community. Some insight communities are created to solve an issue in the short term, while others are created to gain access to customer views in the longer term. In the latter case, integration of customer or user insight becomes more permanent in the organisation and greater customer-centricity is achieved. If you are going to create it for the long term, you don’t need to think about all the applications now, as needs will evolve over time. But you do need to define more short-term research objectives.
  • Sample selection. Participants are usually carefully selected to represent key segments of the target market. Sometimes you may have your own users or customers, but if you want to skip this step or want to include your competitors’ customers and users, you can leave the recruitment of the sample to your research partner. In the case of We are testers, having a panel of 130,000 users whose buying habits we know, it is easy to quickly find the exact sample you need. Moreover, they are always motivated to participate in different research projects, so the information you will get will be of high quality.
  • Platform selection. Each specific task of a community can be managed with many tools, but in practice, insights communities are managed on specialised technology platforms that make it easy for you to do everything you want to do in one environment. With the We are testers platform, you can conduct in-depth interviews, focus groups, assign tasks, launch surveys or generate discussions with a single tool. In addition, the analysis is semi-automated with the help of artificial intelligence to save you time on repetitive tasks.
  • Moderation. Insights communities are moderated to ensure that research activities are carried out effectively. Moderating a community is not difficult, but it requires dedication to keep it active, manage tasks, review results and draw conclusions. That is why most companies have help moderating their insights communities so that they can use their time to activate the findings.
  • Incentivisation. Participation in an insights community requires a certain amount of dedication, so participants are incentivised to be more motivated to collaborate quickly and with quality. But with We are testers you don’t need to worry about that, as we take care of all the incentive definition and management.

Customer communities with We are testers

The customer community is a growing methodology used by more and more brands to gather valuable information for decision making. Creating an insights community provides a very flexible tool for brands to solve any research need in a quick and agile way and helps the organisation to become more customer-centric.

If you are considering creating an insights community, we can help you with everything. From the selection of users, to the availability of the platform or the moderation of the community itself. We have the technology, the experience and a team of expert moderators to help you create and moderate your community the way you need. Contact our experts to find out all the details.

Update date 14 May, 2024

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