Most online customer community users (82%) say they are more likely to recommend the sponsoring company's products since becoming a member, while 76% feel better about the company and 52% are more inclined to purchase its products, according to a study of 20 online customer communities conducted by Communispace.
Unlike public communities and blogs, private customer communities are password-protected sites where a few hundred customers or prospects are typically invited to spend around 30 minutes per week over a period of a few months, with the goal of coming up with new ideas, offering advice to the sponsoring company and other members, sharing their experiences, commenting on market trends, and helping the company identify and solve business issues.
The study, entitled What Companies Gain from Listening, surveyed 2,196 members of twenty online communities built and operated by Communispace for a wide range of brand-name companies (including 13 B2C communities and 7 B2B communities).
The customer's voice
According to Diane Hessan, CEO for Communispace, "This research shows that when companies really listen to customers and make it easy for them to have a say, customers become incredibly connected with the sponsoring company; they trust the company more, provide more thoughtful and detailed feedback, and recommend the company's products to more people. Communities are becoming the core of successful customer engagement."
Among the highlights of the survey's results:
- 76% of community members surveyed indicated they felt generally more positively about the company since joining the community;
- As specific drivers of overall positive feelings, 75% of the community members surveyed said that they felt more respect for the company sponsoring the community;
- 63% said that membership had increased their trust in the company;
- 91% felt that their community enabled them to give candid feedback and suggestions to the company;
- 89% said they felt the company is truly concerned with what its customers have to say;
- 82% said they were more likely to recommend the company's product than before joining the community;
- 59% of members reported talking positively with friends and family about their community experience and the sponsoring company.
Communispace says it is soon to publish a white paper based on the study, and will make the paper available upon request.
Editor's note: On 1st May 2006 The Wise Marketer published its new 950-page report, The Loyalty Guide Volume II, on customer loyalty marketing, including the use of internet technologies, marketing and loyalty methodologies, best practices and techniques, full market summaries, and practical how-to's. For more information about setting up, maintaining, promoting and growing loyalty programmes, see www.theloyaltyguide.com.