04 Jun, 2024 6 min read

Creating a connected experience in your community: Extend your brand processes

People are looking for a seamless experience from your brand to your digital community. But how do you implement this? And what are the benefits?
Creating a connected experience in your community: Extend your brand processes

Customer relationships were once considered fairly one-dimensional, centred around the transaction of a product or service with little ongoing interaction. However, as customer behaviour and expectations constantly evolve, there’s an increased demand for engagement that goes well beyond the initial sale. 

The modern customer expects not only a continuous journey, but one that spans across various platforms. This shift in customer expectations has changed the way businesses approach their customer relationships, with over half of companies interacting with their customers across at least eight channels.

Here, we'll look at the importance of bringing your brand's platforms and systems together to achieve a cohesive customer experience. 

Bridging the gap with digital communities

Building an online community is a fantastic way to learn what your customers want and to create lasting relationships. Community leaders use their communities to gather a range of information, including: 

  • Listening to members needs to market better (69%)

  • Surface trends for potential future development (55%)

  • Spot and resolve products or service issues (47%)

While there are many reasons to have a community, how you treat your community will determine its long-term success. The key lies in seamlessly integrating your community into your brand’s core processes for the best results and most accurate customer data.

How to break down community silos

Far too often, brands think of their communities as isolated entities and miss out on the opportunities that integration can bring them. This disconnect can lead to a fragmented experience, a lack of continuity, and no clear direction on the community’s purpose.

However, when a brand treats its community as an integral part of its ecosystem, it improves the customer journey as well as internal collaboration.

A unified customer view

To truly integrate your brand processes with your community, you need a centralised system that consolidates customer data from multiple sources, including your community platform and main CRM. Having this information in one place will give you a better understanding of each customer’s journey, preferences, and engagement levels. 

Did you know 70% of customers expect anyone they interact with to have full context? Without a single source of truth, this isn’t possible and will leave your members frustrated. 

And this frustration goes both ways. 

64% of customer support agents are looking for a single view of a customer’s interactions across all channels and 62% believe having access to data that lets them personalise interactions would make their job better. 

Syncing your customer data will therefore help you to meet today’s customer expectations while ensuring your staff have all the tools they need to excel at their job.

Introduce single sign-on (SSO)

In addition to meeting customer expectations, it’s also about providing customer convenience. The challenge of remembering passwords still very much exists for the average customer, but there are many tools used today to help ease that; think FaceID and password managers.

If you’re looking to connect your brand and community, one of the best things you can do is implement SSO. SSO is a win-win for community managers as well as community members. 

Your members only need to remember one login for all of your platforms, with their details being carried over wherever they go. This gives customers a more seamless experience right from the start, avoiding the need to juggle login credentials and repeating tasks like building their profile. 

It also simplifies data management for community managers by ensuring consistent user information across all touchpoints.

Encourage cross-functional collaboration

Different departments should not mean radically different experiences for your customer. With 76% of customers expecting consistent interactions across departments, brands need to do their part in creating a connected experience.

Integrating your brand processes into your community requires a collaborative effort across various departments, including: 

  • Marketing 

  • Product development 

  • Customer service 

  • Community management 

Cross-functional meetings can help to share community insights, discuss customer feedback, and align strategies. This approach gives a holistic understanding of the customer needs so each department can help deliver a unified experience.

The benefits of brand-community synergy

When you stop treating your online community as a separate entity, you create an environment where community members can flourish. A space that feels like an extension of the brand will let members know you care and are interested in listening to their thoughts and concerns. 

Better customer insights

Your community members can offer an unfiltered window into your customer’s pain points and thoughts of your product or services. 

By actively listening and engaging with your community members, you gain a deeper understanding of your target audience and can refine your product, services, and marketing strategies.

Accelerated innovation and co-creation

By involving your community in the ideation and development processes, you encourage a sense of ownership and pride for your community members. This will ultimately lead to your product or service offering being more tailored to your audience’s needs and likes.

LEGO is a prime example of what can be achieved when your brand listens to its community. With LEGO Ideas, fans can submit their ideas for new LEGO sets and the community votes which sets should be produced. 

Popular projects, like the red telephone box, have made it to market as a result of this community-driven process.

Brand advocacy

When your community feels valued and heard, they feel like an integral part of your brand and will become your most loyal ambassadors

Asking for feedback and using that feedback to improve your offering will make members more inclined to share their positive experiences of your community and recommend it to other like-minded individuals. 

Community members are also more likely to be loyal when consistency is shown. Embedding your brand’s values and missions into your community will increase trust and reliability. 

If your brand consistently delivers on its promises and values, this connected ecosystem makes it a lot easier for customers to keep showing up and engaging.

Create a seamless experience for your community

Breaking down silos and integrating your community with your brand’s core activities is a must-do in today’s customer-first world. When your brand is consistent, your data is unified, and your experience is seamless, you give your community every opportunity to succeed and grow. 

Extend your brand through every touchpoint and you’ll begin to see mutual benefits for both your brand and community space. 

If you want to discuss improving your online community, Steadfast Collective can help. We specialise in creating websites and applications that bring people together. Get in touch to find out more.