In an ever-evolving security world, we to need to secure more with even fewer resources. While the cybersecurity skills gap increases, leaving “350,000 U.S. cybersecurity jobs unfilled yearly,” it is vital to work together to protect our environments and educate others. Creating a customer community can do just that. Having a digital space with like-minded professionals allows customers to ask questions, collaborate and engage with both employees and peers, making way for companies to achieve their goals faster. In an industry that is built on protecting customers, let’s aim to be involved with our customers, too.

5 Customer Issues an Online Community Can Solve

In order to understand why cybersecurity companies need online customer communities, we have to understand what the common issues that arise:

  1. Customers are seeking faster ways to get an answer to their problems.
  2. Customers are looking for guidance and best practices from trusted sources.
  3. Customers don’t have a place to voice their opinions on products and services.
  4. Customers are looking for ways to stay connected after meeting at an in-person event.
  5. Customers are looking for ways to learn, grow and continually evolve with the products and services they utilize to accomplish their business goals.

Customer Benefits of a Community Space

When an online community is introduced to customers, they are able to utilize it like a social media tool. Users are able to connect with others through discussions, comments, ‘liking’ posts, sharing practices and screenshots. With the ability to ask other customers questions, they have the opportunity to learn which products would solve their problems or ask how to effectively use a product. This allows peers to offer solutions, ones that may be insightful to others. When a customer finds an answer, they gain knowledge for themselves; when they provide an answer in the forums, they share their knowledge with the entire community.

Since employees adhere to company work hours, holidays and vacations, there can be potential lapses in response time. Within a customer community, users can access the online community anytime, anywhere, and help reduce the pressure on your support teams by answering other user’s questions. With 24/7 availability, you potentially always have people to answer questions and generate discussions. Communities also allow for idea generation. Customers can provide useful feedback on products and/or services as well as suggestions on usability and functionality. Since customers are actively using the product, they are able to understand it in a way that an employee may not. Listening to their suggestions will prove useful in product development.

Communities also lend the opportunity for customers to be involved in digital events. Employees can coordinate Q&A events with business leaders from Engineering to Marketing, while pening up your employees to customers shatters the wall between business and customer, leading to transparency and creating a sense of honesty in your business. Also, challenges can be coordinated within the community with gamification tactics so that customers can earn badges and points for answering questions or beginning discussions. As you see your community grow, you may find that a segment of your customer base could benefit from smaller, more intimate groups—potentially even a private group focused on their industry.

Business Benefits of a Community Space

A digital space not only benefits your customers but also has a direct impact on your business. As customer and employee engagement increases, so will brand loyalty and advocacy. It’s important to remember that your business is only as powerful as your relationships with your customer base. Prioritizing engagement and support for your customers will, in turn, create long and trustworthy relationships.

As customers ask questions in forums, it is crucial that you have a team dedicated to help respond. One way to promote internal employees to answer customer questions in a timely manner is through gamification. Points can be tracked and top performers can be awarded prizes monthly. As you begin to track customer and employee metrics, you can establish targets and KPIs to hold your company accountable and continue to improve your customer support responsiveness.

5 Ways Forums Impact Your Organization

A customer community can have a large impact on your business through multiple departments across the entire organization:

  • Engineers can observe common issues, allowing them to develop improvements.
  • User Experience can request customer feedback on both current and future solutions.
  • Product Management can communicate releases, updates, and alerts.
  • Marketing can facilitate customer connections after in-person events.
  • Sales can connect with Superfans in the community to participate in case studies.

“At Tripwire, Customers Define our Success, the implementation of the Tripwire Forums has been vital for us to listen, learn and improve on behalf of our customers.”     

Sarah Holt, Customer Experience Manager

Conclusion

As the digital space becomes increasingly more difficult to separate from the physical one, creating places for connection and discussion becomes essential, especially in our work environments. Creating a customer community will prove to be one of the strongest points of communication as long as it’s nurtured properly and intentionally. Cybersecurity will always benefit from technological advancements and new ideas; it is necessary that we open the door to show customers that they can be part of the conversation.