Customer communities provide companies with a powerful marketing tool and a platform that helps streamline customer support. By giving businesses the ability to leverage the enthusiasm of their most loyal customers, these communities help create a snowball effect of customer engagement among all of a company’s prospects. In turn, this enables companies to boost brand loyalty while strengthening customer relations. To get the most out of your customer community, it’s important to work with the right online community implementation partner. These community providers help you clarify your goals, develop your strategy and select the right software for your business’s needs. To make sure you pick the right implementation partner for your customer community needs, ask the four questions below. 1. How Much Online Community Implementation Success Do You Have? It’s best to work with a partner that has a proven track record of implementing online communities for various targets. Broad online community implementation experience empowers your provider to navigate any challenges that occur during development and accommodate special requirements or goals you have for your community. Plus, experienced providers know the best ways to guide you through the implementation process, including helping you define your goals and selecting the right features for your community. When selecting a provider, ask about its online community implementation experience, as well as work samples and awards won for developing online communities. 2. What Is Your Customer Community Development Process Like? You also want to get a sense of your implementation partner’s online community development process. This helps with determining whether the provider’s procedures fit with your business’s culture and goals. If your business relies on team-building retreats, invite some key stakeholders from your potential provider to see if they work well with your employees. It’s also important to gauge your potential customer community provider’s development operations. Avoid providers with a “code first, ask questions later” mentality. Such partners do not take enough time to define your goals and needs, or to understand your customers and their unique behaviors. Choose an online community implementation partner that incorporates time for strategy and research in the development process. These partners don’t write any code until they fully understand your customer and your needs. 3. What Are Your Core Online Community Development Competencies? Each online community implementation company has its own strengths and weaknesses. The key is to pick your provider based on how its skills correspond with your needs. If, for example, you need guidance on defining your goals and measuring their success, pick a provider that stresses strategy. If you need your customers to have a seamless, enjoyable experience navigating your community, select an implementation partner that specializes in user experience design. Remember, you also want to ensure your provider has broad capabilities. If your implementation partner needs to outsource too many parts of the project to subcontractors, your customer community development may be riddled with glitches and delays. 4. How Do You Help Ensure Customer Community Success? A good online community implementation partner doesn’t just build your community and walk away. By starting with a focus on strategy, your partner helps define the features you need and the vision you have for the community. A good partner uses its online community development experience to alert you to the components and user adoption strategies that have succeeded and failed for clients in the past. Your provider should also have the capability to help guide your community post-launch. Work with a provider that offers online community management services to identify what is and is not working with your community and to help you make the necessary adjustments. Choosing the right implementation partner for your online customer community is critical to successfully launching your community. With an expertly crafted, strategically developed community, you put your business on a path to increased customer engagement and streamlined customer support. Ask your potential provider the questions above to determine if it is the right fit for your needs.