It has long been said that there is a power in unity. How can companies leverage this concept in business perspective? Logical thinking suggests that in business, communities could be of employees or customers. However, it still remains unclear as to exactly how these communities would benefit a company or brand. Along with that, let us also see exactly how these communities are beneficial for its members, the employees & customers having similar interests.
Firstly, let us learn more about various aspects of these common-interest communities. Communities of people with common interest are typically called as ‘Common-Interest Communities (CICs)’ or ‘Common-Interest Developments (CIDs) or Communities of Interests (COIs). For our purposes, a community of interest is a group of people having common interests, common passions or common goals. These communities could be formed formally (a formal list) or a community could be formed on an ad-hoc basis. Generally the members of a formal & well structured community would get more benefits since the commitment of community members is continuous & fixed.
There are many benefits that would accrue to the common-interest community members. Since the members of a community are usually from the same domain, they can extensively share their knowledge, experiences & pool their skills. This gives a great platform where community members can share knowledge. In the communities of employees, technical, business-related, company-related expertise can be shared. Live sharing of practical knowledge can improve productivity & competency of community members to a great extent. In case of customer communities, product or service related information can be shared between the community members. This can enhance the perceptual value of a product for a customer. A customer may get to know the hidden features of a product or he may learn new uses of a product by sharing knowledge with fellow community members.
Another benefit to the community members is the sense of belonging. Human beings normally take pride through the association. Hence, when they are involved in communities along with a group of people having similar interests, the members will get a great deal of satisfaction through association with such community. This would be true for both types of communities, customer communities as well as employee communities.
One more benefit that community members would get is the collaborative problem solving. Employees can solve their work-related problems very efficiently if they approach the community having similar technical skills as a common interest. Customers in customer communities can also do quick & easy troubleshooting of their product/service-related problems if a community is created for customers using similar products or services.
By taking initiatives in formulation & maintenance of these communities, companies stand to gain many benefits. First of all, they would get personalized info about their customers & employees. It is not always possible to get personal info about customers. As these communities develop, companies will automatically get more information about their customers as the customers will voluntarily share information. Next advantage accrued to the company would be the ability to group the customers having similar likes & passions. Companies would get deeper understanding of the customer’s behavior, interests & preferences.
Lastly, since these communities are built through the company, customer’s loyalty to brand or company tend to increase. That is the reason why more & more companies are taking the initiative to create common-interest communities of their customers & employees.