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Build Your Own Social Community for Commerce

On a well-produced business website, you often see a link to a social community area, which could also lead offsite to social media sites. This area is where the customer service and FAQs pages live. You might also find a customer-to-customer community that encourages participation from those who visit the business site.

Whether you choose to have a customer community attached to your site is up to you. In a self-service community, customers come and go and make comments. In a managed community, you or one of your employees acts as a moderator, guiding the conversation. Your presence signifies to visitors that you want to connect.

When deciding how to design a community — or whether to even have one — base your choice on your available time and resources. If you are short on time, you might be able to manage a Facebook page, Twitter, or a blog and accomplish the same goals.

You can build a small-business customer community quickly with tools from Get Satisfaction. The company was launched to solve a problem that the founders had with their original website.

They knew the pain of delivering customer service by e-mail and, in contrast, had amazing experiences answering questions in public and through their blog. The outcome was the platform they now offer. Think of your community as an online support or feedback forum that becomes part of your site.

Community powered support can be more results-oriented and perceived to be more social than the alternate (traditional) ways of dealing with customer issues. The figure shows Get Satisfaction’s own community-powered support page.

Visitors can ask a question or see previously asked questions and the answers.
Visitors can ask a question or see previously asked questions and the answers.

Their easy-to-manage option for building customer interaction is based on organically driven customer-to-customer support. It affords you the benefit of publicly displaying issues that you are currently addressing and have already solved.

Get Satisfaction offers a $19 per month small-business solution to help you get started. The platform is a great way to start a community. It enhances your customer service by allowing open comments and by engaging your customers through simple FAQs. As you grow, the site offers graduated steps, so you can upgrade to a more robust platform as needed.

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