Yesterday's Electronic Recruiting News was about Community. There are at least three or four decent books on the subject. I'm reading one now, Drew Banks' and Kim Daus' Customer.Community: Unleashing the Power of Your Customer Base (on Amazon). The underlying principle: there's value in having your customers talk with each other.
It's also true for your talent pool. As you read this, where you see the word "customer", substitute "potential employee".
First, the business case.
- Deeper customer loyalty
- Additional revenue streams
- Harnessing the collective voice of your customers
- Broader market reach through customer advocacy
- Focused product input
- Partnership development
- Peer-to-peer customer service
- Lower operational costs
- Easy start-up, low risk to terminate
Then the customer case. Customer communities can touch people at each rung on Maslows Hierarchy of human needs.
- Community performs a necessary and useful function for members.
- Members can identify each other and build relationships.
- Members have reputation based on their activity and the expressed opinions of others.
- The facilitators and members of the community assign management duties to each other, allowing the community to grow. Members agree that their behavior can be regulated according to shared or stated values.
- Members must be able to interact with each other, to share information and ideas.
- Community members can segment themselves according to specific interests or tasks. Members can relate to each other in small numbers.
- A synergistic environment helps members achieve their purpose.
- The community knows why it exists and who is outside and inside.
- Members must be able to build trust over time with other members and the community facilitators. Members know with whom they are dealing and that it is safe to do so.
- The community recognizes an exchange of value, from knowledge and ideas to goods and services. Members can easily indicate their preferences and opinions.
- The community has a recognizable character and members are aware of what other community members are doing.
- The community remembers what has happened and reacts and changes in response.
It takes work. But this soft stuff keeps communities healthy.
They have a few chapters on growing your community. And a few more on nuts and bolts implementation advice.
My favorite chapter: cashing in on your community. Explicit. Quantifiable.
But here's the thing (thanks for staying with me on this), their Ten Questions Before You Start:
- Is your customer base currently connected? How? What are your customers saying?
- Does your service or product or even your company image have inherent bonding possibilities? [that's bonding, not branding]
- Are you currently organized around the optimal customer experience?
- Which department is best suited to "own" your customer-community strategy, development, and implementation?
- At what level of commitment do you want to start?
- Would a customer-community orientation affect any other programs?
- What other key players do you need to line up?
- What is your first step?
- How will you communicate your customer-community plans?
- How will you determine success?
If Monster can do it (they're one of the case studies), so can you. Candidate communities can:
- change your cost structure,
- shorten cycle times, and
- improve talent pool quality,
- in good times and bad.
I'd love your comments on this.