3 ways brands are using communities to foster customer engagement

Techtronics, Xero and Family and Community Services NSW share how they're tapping the power of customer community building

Just what does it take to build a community around your products and services in the age of digital, data-led interaction? And how can machine learning help brands achieve these aims?

During the recent Salesforce WorldTour in Sydney, two local brands and one government agency shared how they’re employing the vendor’s Community Cloud platform to help build out better engagement with their customer and client bases.

While there was clearly a technology platform overhaul behind each example, each case study was unique in terms of the way they’re approaching the concept of building a customer community, and the tools, data and communication constructs they’re using on top of technology to foster better engagement with their specific audiences.

Techtronic industries: Closer customer connections

Techtronic Industries Australia (TTI) is a manufacturer and distributor of power tools, outdoor and floor care products such as Ryobi, AEG, Hoover, Vax and Milwaukee. Head of customer experience, Jason Perera, said one of the problems it experiences is being one step removed from the end user.  

As a way of combatting this, the group created two ‘communities’ after adopting the Salesforce Community Cloud platform nine months ago: One for the AEG brand, and one for Ryobi.

“When I took on the role 18 months ago, I architected three clear customer segments: B2C, which is the end user using our tools day-to-day; B2B, or people buying our tools for sub-contractors such as procurement or site managers; and B2R, or our retail partners and services agents,” Perera explained.

“We wanted to build a B2C community to connect to those end users who are buying and using the tools.”

The MyRyobi community is aimed at any customer who purchases Ryobi products and currently gives registrants within 30 days access to an extended warranty. Built in 12 weeks, the long-term ambition is to manage service queries, showing projects based on tools registered or an end user’s interests, live chat, and the ability to share projects with other community members.

Since launching in June last year, 40,000 people have registered 130,000 tools through the community.

“Some users have 50-60 tools, and we’ve seen an advocacy program off the back of that,” Perera said.

TTI integrated the platform with its existing Salesforce Marketing Cloud capabilities, allowing it to create automated communications such as a welcome email series that provides end users with information about the tools they’ve purchased and service programs. TTI also runs Sales Cloud and Chatter.

“We’ve started to build out journeys about how people are interacting with our community,” Perera continued. “It’s the first time we’ve established that direct relationship with the customer.”

It’s also working to serve different messages in the community based on what products a customer owns, and hopes to foster customer advocacy by rewarding those with more products, or who represent a higher lifetime value.

“For us, we see this community expanding into redemptions and service. We’re also just launching service community for service agents, as we have both internal and external service agents,” Perera said.

“For our trade brands, we are looking to create brand specific B2C portal that will connect directly with our service agent community. If a trade customer needs maintenance on a particular tool, the customer can log the service through the portal, pick a service agent and in future have delivery services pick up the tool and drop it to the service agent.  If that customer calls our customer service team, we know who they are, what’s in their tool bag and be proactive in ensuring we are solving their problems.”

TTI is also looking to Salesforce’s Einstein AI capabilities to better understand and fulfil marketing journeys to different customer segments. “This could help us understand if we’re sending too many emails for example, or drop an SMS instead,” Perera said.

With this “virtual toolbag”, TTI can start to measure what that B2C customer looks like, and their value, Perera said. “When we know they own two tools, for example, and start to market third tool, we can start to map out the customer journeys, start to put a value on that customer, clearly see our see cost per acquisition and understand the value of the customer to us.

“We never knew the [end] customer until the community was established.”

Up next: Xero, plus Family and Community Services NSW share how they're creating communities

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