INTRODUCTION

If you count all customer touch points – from support interactions and in-person conversations to advertisements – the average company has millions, if not billions, of customer interactions a year across paid, earned, and owned channels. For your business, each channel touch point represents an opportunity for greater insight. A branded customer community connects your customers to each other – and your employees – as they talk about your products and services. The insight you can gain from analyzing the conversations happening in your community are incredibly valuable, as they help you understand your customers more deeply – for instance, what motivates them to buy more or choose to become brand advocates.

Analytics for social media have evolved rapidly. In the first generation, brands responded individually to tweets or comments on Facebook pages, and a cottage industry of social analytics vendors emerged to help companies make sense of the mentions. But the insights gained are often minimal, in part because mentions are examined out of context and rarely contain much information about the person making comments. For example, it is often hard to tell if a person is even a real customer. Moreover, social media content resides on another company’s server (for instance, Twitter or Facebook), so data access is limited.

In contrast, with a customer community, you own the data and can analyze it as you see fit. Using analytical tools, you can generate unique insights that drive value at every phase of the customer lifecycle. You can also incorporate known insight from CRM and other systems for even richer customer insight. Analyzing community data allows you to see in aggregate which issues drive or depress customer satisfaction, and thus immediately address issues through business processes. Additionally, you can identify which products each prospect is interested in and convert this insight into leads that your sales team can follow up. These insights enable your company to reduce service costs, proactively improve customer experiences, and accelerate customer acquisition.

Every community manager needs essential analytics and reporting tools.

But to gain valuable insights, you need the right analytical tools and reporting capabilities. Ideally, the platform you use to support and run your community will provide these capabilities. Here’s a snapshot of what’s most important to ensuring your success in driving deeper customer engagement.

COMMUNITY OPERATIONS ANALYTICS

To understand how effectively and efficiently your community is working to meet customer needs, focus analytics on customer support issues. These data points help you understand:

  • The self-sufficiency of community members

  • For many companies, one of the biggest sources of immediate ROI from a customer community is cost savings achieved through customer self-service and self-sufficiency. You can assess this ROI by finding out the percent of support questions answered by the community (versus employees) and how quickly people provide those answers (i.e., first time to reply). Consider Yola.com, a company that helps users build simple Web sites. Management noticed that over time, user questions were answered more quickly by other customers via Yola’s Get Satisfaction community, often during hours when support reps weren’t available. They used this insight to proactively reach out to these “good samaritan” customers and offer them incentives to continue their positive behaviors.
  • Consumer trends

  • Analytics can help you better understand interesting trends and insights in consumer behavior. By using these insights, you can make better business decisions that improve operations. For example, you can examine key community metrics, such as the hours of the day with the highest volume of support questions, so you can appropriately staff your support organization for peak times. (To return to our Yola.com example, as the company grew, management realized that there was insufficient coverage in certain geographies –even with the support of customer champions. So they reassigned hours to reps to cover those areas.)
  • Hot topics

  • Communities are valuable in helping companies understand what people care most about – and in a way that could not be determined by looking at other data sources. For instance, you can see what percentage of topics – and which topics – on your community are getting the most page views. This insight is useful when developing FAQs or knowledge articles that respond to support issues, as well as identifying product issues that need to be resolved.
  • Real-time community trends

    Unlike your support organization or feedback email queue, a customer community is always up and running, ready to support customers around the clock. Community analytics can help you see trends and uncover issues in real time. For example, you can detect if there is a customer service issue with a particular product before you start getting support tickets – and proactively address issues. (For example, Zynga.com used its Get Satisfaction customer community to gather real-time feedback on product issues; management incorporated this feedback into its rapid-release schedule of four product updates per day.)
“We had FAQs on our community designed to address certain customer questions quickly. However, when the community topics were getting more page views than the FAQs, it was clear that the FAQs were incomplete. We then updated our FAQ with the most current information already available on community pages.” - Yola

CONSUMER SEGMENTATION ANALYTICS

With consumer segmentation analytics, you can learn a great deal about who is participating in your community and why – information that can be used by marketing and support organizations to better understand consumer segments and their needs. Examples of what analytics can provide in this area include:

  • Hot topics

  • For example, age, sex, and location are all relatively easy to capture.
  • Behavioral and psychographic information

    As stated previously, there’s a great deal of behavioral and psychographic information that can be inferred based on the community content, such as consumer sentiment and intention.
  • Insights into where consumers are in the customer lifecycle and for how long

    For instance, you can determine if a site visitor is a prospect evaluating a product to possibly buy it or a customer looking for support on a product he or she already owns.
  • Multi-channel analysis

  • Analytics can determine how people are finding your community. You can, for instance, compare visits from organic searches, mobile devices, and Facebook (or other social media linkages) against links from your Web site to get an idea of how customers are finding your customer community aand how their needs, interests, and intentions trend by entry point.
  • Product or service interest

  • Analytics can help you determine which of your products or services consumers are most and least interested in.
  • Insight into each consumer’s intention in coming to the community

  • For example, analytics can identify if a visitor is in your community for a pre-purchase query, post-purchase query, or customer support issue – insight you can use to tailor interactions.
“Based on community feedback, we prioritized developing a private version of Get Satisfaction for our customers,” - Steve Pal, Senior Product Manager, Get Satisfaction

CONTENT ANALYTICS

Finally, you need a way to analyze the effectiveness of your community content at meeting customer needs. For example, with the right analytics, you can answer questions such as:

  • What content is attracting new customers?
  • What content drives repeat visits? Do people keep coming back?
  • Who is looking at content?
  • What content moves prospects along the lifecycle (such as from evaluate to buy)? Are we moving each customer or prospect along the lifecycle? How long is it taking, and where are people getting stuck?
  • What topics are the most effective at getting people to:
    • Join the community?
    • Click over to Web page to learn more?
    • Click over to Web page to make a purchase?

Examples of metrics to track include:

  • Search trends

  • Identify top search terms from within your community (versus from the Web) to understand what prospects are looking for.
  • Top searches for specific products

  • Gain insight into consumer intent about particular products. For example, if you see lots of support or installation questions for a product, there’s an opportunity to increase efficiency by creating the right FAQ or online video that answers common questions.
  • Sentiment

    Having customers self-assess their sentiment helps community managers gauge customer satisfaction and assess the overall “health” of their community. This insight enables you to quickly determine the root cause of customer satisfaction issues or identify and activate brand advocates. Similarly, you can assess if certain types of content impacts user sentiment positively or negatively, and then choose to surface more or less of it, as appropriate.
“We use the community to get a bellwether of what’s going on with our customers and to ensure we provide up-to-date information on our products. Every week we scan the community content for questions that we need to add to our official FAQ.“ - Rob O’Donnell, Vice President of Digital Media, Applegate

CUSTOMER ACQUISITION AND ADVOCACY ANALYTICS

To assess how your customer community is helping you acquire more customers, you can use analytics to measure:

  • Customer advocacy

    For example, you can identify brand advocates and champions by identifying top contributors of topics and answers in your community.
  • Interest

    Search trends can help you identify when consumer questions indicate interest in product purchases, such as does this car seat fit in the middle seat of an Audi Q7?
  • Traffic

    Identify product interest based on identification of the most active topics for a specific product searched organically on the Web or within the community.

Mindjet Explodes with Advocates, Expediting the Lifecycle

Mindjet, a company that provides brainstorming and collaboration software, has exploded with customer advocates in a short period of time. They have a team of more than 70 happy customers in their community responding to prospects and customers, expressing their love for Mindjet, and sticking up for the company in times of need. These people are the best source of word-of- mouth marketing content, and they help expedite the customer lifecycle for others.

CONCLUSION

Ready to Get Started?

The most admired companies in the world all have one thing in common: they are customer-centric organizations because they have operationalized an effective customer experience strategy. Today, over 70,000 companies are using customer communities as part of their strategy to engage more deeply with their customers and build a better customer experience.

Interested in learning more about how a Get Satisfaction customer community can help you acquire more customers, drive product innovation, and deliver excellent, low-cost social support? Call 877-339-3997 to schedule a demo.

About Get Satisfaction

Based in San Francisco, Get Satisfaction provides an online community platform connecting companies with customers to foster relationships that unlock new value for both sides. Companies of all sizes and industries—from Kellogg’s, P&G and Intuit to Sonos, and SugarCRM—rely on Get Satisfaction to deliver online communities that modernize customer support, accelerate sales, differentiate their brand and inspire new innovations. Get Satisfaction’s community platform offers the fastest time to value for companies ready to embrace the way today’s customers want to engage.


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