Building an online community is a slow process, and one that requires a lot of input. The upside of this effort is that when you have a solid, reliable, interactive community to rely upon, the positive impact on your company will spread across many areas: you’ll see higher feedback levels, great customer satisfaction scores, fewer customer inquiries for your team, and even an increase in sales and loyalty rates. Engaging with the customer is imperative to getting your online community off the ground, so that buyers are enticed to participate in the exchange.

Make sure you respond quickly to both positive and negative feedback. Potential community members are important no matter what their perspective, as long as it’s honest. When responding, be authentic and honest yourself, in return. When that corporate voice comes out, customers can tell. People want to talk to real people, and the ball is in your court to provide them with that experience. Asking questions and encouraging conversation will also aid your community in their growth.

Giving the people more to bounce off of, more to think about, and more to reply to will keep the ball rolling. In that same arena, share your own stories with the product or the company’s mission, to break into that emotional engagement that creates good feedback. When possible, it’s also important to share excitement and surprises with your community as the progress of your product occurs, so that keeping in touch is as simple as logging in.

Ultimately, it’s a game-changing approach to put your community first when it comes to online development. Customers have a sixth sense when it comes to online interaction, and the only way to truly engage with the customer is to truly engage as yourself.

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This post was written by Hallie Dunn

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