Growing your customer support community is important - you want as many customers using it as possible in order to best meet the needs of your audience and demonstrate ROI. While acquiring new users can be as attractive as a shiny new bike, don’t discount the value of the users you already have. Retaining your existing users can produce a greater ROI for your organization, and greatly increase the lifetime value of your customers.
Why You Should Focus on User Retention
First of all, let’s cover why focusing on retention matters in the first place. We are creatures of habit - if we have a pleasant experience with a brand and find value in their product, we will keep going back to that brand. Returning customers are 5 times more likely to repurchase a product or service, and have a longer lifetime value. Not investing in retaining customers to your community is costly, as 82% of consumers stopped purchasing from a brand after having a poor customer service experience.
Here are the major benefits of retaining users of your customer support community:
Long-term Community Members Can Support Other Users
The cost of delivering customer service can be decreased by following a decentralized model where users support each other. Your long-term community members will build knowledge of your products and services, and will be able to assist other community members with their questions. This can decrease the investment your organization will need to make in community moderation.
Community Members Turn Into Brand Evangelists
If your users stay, and remain, happy they can be enrolled in promoting your brand. Recent research has shown that upwards of 83% of customers trust the recommendations of their friends over other sources. You can leverage the social proof - the influence a social relationship has on a person’s decision - of your existing users to acquire new users, effectively lowering your cost of customer acquisition.
Lowers Your Cost of Customer Acquisition
As noted above, leveraging your existing community for user acquisition can lower costs by reducing your spend in paid channels. You also effectively minimize user churn, which decreases the amount of new user acquisition, to keep on target with your acquisition goals.
How to Retain Users Of Your Online Support Community
Now that we’ve established how this can really help your bottom line, let’s turn to how to put this into action. There are a variety of tactics you can employ to retain users of your online community. Below are some of the ones that have proven to be most effective:
Personalize Your Customer Support Community
Customers want more personalized, relevant experiences from digital products and services, and this desire extends to your community platform. Allow users to indicate what their interests are, and customize the content they see based on their preferences.
The experience of using your community platform can also be personalized by analyzing the behavior of users within your community to predict interests and future behaviors. This is more intensive, but there are many personalization engines available to power such experiences, and it will create less friction for your users.
Leverage Game Mechanics to Keep Users Coming Back
There is a lot of debate about the use of badges as a way to motivate people to engage with a product or service, but leveraging game mechanics to keep community members interested is a great way to retain users. Identify and highlight those in your community who are most active and add the most value for other users. Give users progressive ways to get involved, such as:
Regularly scheduled games or other actions that earn them rewards or discounts
Access to membership levels and benefits for engaging in a certain way (i.e. responding to a certain number of users’ questions)
Compete against other members to create a sense of urgency
And most importantly, create some reward system for those who actively contribute to and engage with the community.
Retarget Well Performing Content to Users
Just because someone is a user of your community does not mean they log in regularly to see what is happening. You need to be proactive about keeping your members abreast of what is happening within it.
Regularly share content that may be of interest to your visitors and announcements about the evolution of your platform through:
Personalized listings of content that may appear on their dashboard or profile
Targeted email newsletters or push notifications of you have a mobile application
Social and search ads retargeted at community members
Use Positive Reinforcement
Microinteractions can be a powerful way of evoking positive feelings within your users, which will keep them wanting to use your support community. Build positive statements into your system that:
Confirm the successful completion of an action
Affirm that the user is a valuable member of the community
Entice a user to want take another action while you have their attention
User retention is as, if not more, important for the success of your community than user acquisition. We hope these tips set you on the right path towards developing your user retention strategy.