Moving from as tech support oriented community with forums into a more engaging business community required Verizon to realize that social media isn’t a campaign; it is a strategy to build relationships. Viral activities are fleeting ‘ customer evangelism lasts.
Communities allow companies to listen in to conversations and benefit from the insight. And customers have the opportunity to get answers to broader questions beyond Verizon offerings. They have 12 individual customers that lead their communities (not employees), doing this work out of sheer love and passion, and selected from their contribution to the community every 6 months.
As part of the effort, Verizon also monitors and engages via Twitter, via their ‘Idea Exchange’ site, and provides educational and lifestyle content through ‘Room to Learn.’ These activities provide other channels for communication, since customers have different needs and not all use the forums.
And if you think this is all too expensive to do, note that Verizon has only a team of 3 plus their community software vendor. Lean and mean!
The Verizon community is open to everyone, not just customers. As a vehicle to grow their business, the communities also enable Verizon can also get closer to the customer, gain new insights, and drive improvements in customer retention. And for customers, they now are able to self-serve, learn, and have a place to be heard.
Becky recommends starting within your own community: Go into your company’s forums and see what people are saying, passing along the insight in customer-speak. You can then go to external social sites like Twitter and Facebook, using that ‘customer-speak’ from your own forums to find the things that are the best opportunities for engaging customers on your own site.