The launch of Salesforce Chatter Communities gives organisations the opportunity to take charge and foster their own online communitiesconnecting employees, customers, partners, suppliers and distributors for better collaboration. The combination of a customer interaction platform with internal business processes signals a break with the old, transactional way of dealing with customers.  It enables your employees to get closer to your customers and partners. Here are three practical suggestions to make collaboration a competitive advantage using Salesforce Chatter Communities.


1.  Remember customers are people, not transactions

When designing Communities, it pays to recognise you are dealing with human beings who can be unpredictable, impatient, unforgiving and demanding.  And it's all happening in a relatively public sphere.  Treat every communication carefully.  Be accurate, timely (no delays!) and helpful. In other words, provide the kind of responsiveness that you would like to receive when dealing with your business partners.

2.  Nobody owns the customer, but someone always owns the moment

Customers have become expert at navigating their way through an organisation to get what they need.  It's a far cry from the time when sales or service personnel “owned” the relationship.  These days, almost any employee may find themselves dealing with a customer and how they manage this challenge will affect the buying decision. Communities helps to make every interaction count by mobilising the resources of your entire organisationno matter how or where the customer ‘moment’ occurs.

3.  Know what your customers want before they do—and act on it

As soon as you invite conversation into your own community, you gain visibility into the interest and issues of your customers. By monitoring the public responses to queries, you learn how customers view your products and services, and how they use them in the “real” world. This visibility allows you to proactively engage around new features, services or products, and even helps determine where to direct resources in the future.

In the era of the empowered customer, profitable growth relies on customer engagement. Communities taps into the knowledge of the business and facilitates agility, so that every employee is empowered to seize the moment and make every customer interaction a successful one.