When it comes to providing customer support, most organizations are somewhat conflicted. On the one hand, they clearly see engaging with customers as an opportunity to sell them additional products. On the other hand, the cost of providing that customer support is still often viewed as a drain on the bottom line, and that results in many of them implementing customer support policies and practices that do more to frustrate than help customers.
To split the difference between those two extremes, many organizations have started to put in place online communities through which support is not only easier to access, but where customers begin to support each other. In addition to increasing overall customer satisfaction, these online communities reduce the cost of providing customer support.
The challenge many IT organizations face is whether it’s better to build an online community or simply customize a pre-built one. In the case of Salesforce, the case is clearly being made for the latter in the form of Lightning Customer Community, a revamped version of a previous community platform that now incorporates e-commerce functionality that makes it easier for end customers to buy a product or service within the context of an online community.
Mike Micucci, general manager and senior vice president for Salesforce Community Cloud, says that beyond the revamped user interface experience, the thing that distinguishes Salesforce Community Cloud it that it’s built around the same customer records used in the Salesforce customer relationship management (CRM) application. That makes it a lot easier for salespeople to keep track of support issues involving their customers and for the organization as a whole to correlate those issues using analytics applications spanning both applications, says Micucci.
From an IT perspective, customer support, e-commerce and CRM can be the ultimate trip down the digital business rabbit hole. For this reason alone, buying and customizing may be less confusing to the organization as a whole than trying to build and integrate every function from scratch.