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In my last blog post I talked about being inspired by our community panel of the year nominees: the North American short list (Allure, Guitar Center, Discovery Communications), market winners (Kimberly Clark Australia, and the UK's Institute of Directors), and global winner (Discovery Communications).

And I summed up what I feel it takes for you to be the cream of the crop when it comes to managing a community panel: You need to have HEART, take RISKS and be dedicated to the JOURNEY.

To follow up on my last post, here are eight ideas to get started on your journey:

1. Activate and continue to engage your stakeholders over time. Brainstorming sessions, WOW decks, newsletters, cross functional team presentations, direct access to members in discussion forums, and in person meetups with members make everyone feel more connected.

2. Show what's behind the curtain! Introduce yourself to your community panel members as a real person with photos, video, day in the life stories, your career path, etc. Members will open up more if you open up to them.

3. Open the kimono!Tell members why you're asking the questions and what you learned from them, give them behind the scenes access, and treat them as special advisors to the brand.

4. Actually listen to your members - including the good and bad stuff - and then actually do something with their feedback internally.

5. Don't be afraid of qual! I might need to dodge some lightning here, but you don't have to be a professionally trained moderator to do qual these days. Try it out - it's really not that scary or time consuming. Just start small.

6. Infuse voice of customer in your organization's DNA and push for transformative change where required to become more customer-centric.

7. Keep your activities short and engaging. If you wouldn't want to participate in the activity why would your members?

8. Experiment and evolve your process, roadmap and make engagement plans over time as you learn from successes and failures.

Hopefully this inspires you as well! And you probably want to know more specific details of our nominees. Not to worry, Christy Ransom takes a deep dive look into each of our finalists to see how they take risks and have taken their community panel journey to heart in her blog posts. Please click here for her recent posts!

Want to learn more about our global community panel of the year contenders and our winner Discovery Communications?

What inspired you? What do you think is risky?

The enterprise guide to online communities 

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Ellie Hutton

Ellie is passionate about our customers' experience, shining a spotlight on the success of our customers, and bringing the voice of the customer to our business. She’s been with Vision Critical since 2006, in research, marketing, sales enablement, customer success and CX teams. Ellie has over 20 years of experience in research and marketing, partnering with companies across many verticals to build brands, develop products, retain customers, evaluate communications, develop strategy, and facilitate change.
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