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LinkedIn Groups for Customer Support

Recently, an acquaintance invited me to join his local LinkedIn Group. I needed to do more networking, so I gave it a try, even though I’m skeptical of generic LinkedIn Groups without a focused market niche.

You’ve probably heard how LinkedIn Groups can help your lead generation efforts. As a participant or moderator, you can show your expertise or tap the knowledge of others.

If you don’t already have a LinkedIn Group, perhaps you’ve been asked why not. LinkedIn Groups are great for new business development, but should you create a LinkedIn Group for customer service?

Of course, you wouldn’t rely on a LinkedIn Group for customer service. It might work for prospects with questions about your offering. It might work for light customer support, but you wouldn’t limit yourself to this one touchpoint.

You already know the importance of customer retention, so let’s refine the question. Should you rely on a LinkedIn Group for customer support? These customers need help to make good use of your product.

Other than your time, the cost of a LinkedIn Group is attractive. Testing demand should be easy, but you could save yourself the effort if you know how much you spend on customer support.

This might be hard to estimate, especially if you don’t have dedicated resources. The quick and dirty approach is to take every customer facing employee and estimate the percentage of time spent on customer support. You would also need to distinguish between sales and support.

Don’t worry about accuracy. A rough estimate should be fine. Once you’ve estimated customer support costs, you can make an informed decision on whether to use a LinkedIn Group or any other customer support tool.

Let’s assume that documentation could save you 60% on your customer support costs. This assumes that your documentation is complete and accurate, and that your customer can find it when they need it.

Would a LinkedIn Group provide your customers with complete and accurate documentation, and would it be easy for them to find? Although discussions are indexed and searchable, a LinkedIn Group would probably not be the best way to reduce customer support costs.

Discussions and forums may be great for engagement, but unstructured content usually requires extra effort from the information seeker. The exception is a large community with volunteers actively answering questions. Ubuntu Forums is a great example of an active community, but, as Clay Shirky has said, you need significant scale for cognitive surplus to be effective.

What’s the takeaway? While LinkedIn Groups and forums in general might be good for building engagement, they are not the best tool for customer support, especially if you lack the critical mass needed to sustain an active community.

There is no shortage of collaboration software with specific applications and features. New categories with new combinations of features are emerging all the time, making your buying decision even more difficult. Clarifying use cases can help, but keeping results in mind is even better.

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