If you’ve got a customer facing online community, and your not using it in conjunction with your product team, then you’re really missing out an opportunity to not only strengthen the ties between you and your customers, but also to find out what makes them tick and what they think can improve your products. Make them feel a part of the process. Here are some ideas:
- Have an Ideas board. With some platforms this is an actual feature, somewhere that your customers can submit ideas to your product team if they think of something that would make a great product feature. Other users can vote for Ideas that they like. If your platform doesn’t have this as a feature then it would be easy to create a group in your Community for this purpose, just be sure to have a system in place to monitor the ideas and feedback to customers what’s happening with their ideas, whether or not they get taken forward.
- Look for volunteers. Your product team should be in your community looking out for the people that have the great ideas, that ask the great questions and show a real keen-ness for being involved. Why not put the word out for volunteers interested in testing out some of your features? Or for people to give you feedback on enhancements and new layouts. Our volunteer numbers have rocketed since we started reaching out for people in our Community, yours can too.
- Be there. As a bare minimum, people from your product team should be in the Community, checking out what conversations are taking place about their products. What are people saying? What pain points are they feeling? What do they think of your new features? What suggestions do they have for more improvements? Product teams need to have their fingers on the pulse, and what better way than in your Community.
- Keep your ears open. Remember that you are also an important connection between your customers and products. Make sure that you continue to connect people that may be looking for help, or to be involved, or for those who might have the right mindset for testing. You also might (should) have ongoing conversations with your top users, perhaps via email or some other form – they might also divulge important feedback in those conversations. Be sure to feed that back to your product team. You’re a conduit here too.
- Take it offline. Set up some offline user groups/meet-ups whatever you want to label them. Bringing communities together offline is a powerful tool for making the sense of community even stronger between your members, but also another really great opportunity to get people talking about your products and solicit some great feedback. Don’t forget to make sure that the main topic of the meet-up isn’t you soliciting feedback though – your customers need to get something out of the session too; hands-on training maybe, some insight into your roadmap.
Just a few ideas to think about when trying to pull your product team in to the Community, collaborating with your customers to build better products to help everyone become even more successful. What other ideas do you guys have? Let me know in the comments below.