Online Communities: Users Helping Users

May 06, 2014 | | 11867 |

Online Communities: Users Helping Users

By Tom Kelter

When it comes to your dealership software, it is always exciting to discover something new that can help you do your job better. Deciding on a new Dealer Management System (DMS) is like buying a new car. It’s a big decision. Choosing a new Customer Relationship Management system is like purchasing a new TV. It’s an investment. No matter what, you want to dive right in and get the most out of it.

You made the purchase for a reason and you know what you want to accomplish, but sometimes you just can’t figure out how to do it. Searching through technical documentation can be helpful, but time-consuming. Calling tech support may also provide some answers. But, these methods can take you down longer roads than you anticipated … and if you have a very specific dealership business issue, you may not ever find the answers you need.

Rest assured, you’re not alone.

Getting the most from your investment is important and finding answers when you need them is critical. It is very likely that other people have experienced the exact issues you are encountering, and recently, everyone is pitching in to help out. There’s a great way to exchange advice with people just like you, and it’s right at your fingertips.

You’re not alone

Online ‘user-to-user’ communities are creating an environment where people can discuss specific business issues and share knowledge—without the need for contacting the technology provider. These communities feature areas that focus on specific products and are easily navigable.

The most valuable communities are even ‘gated,’ so only those who use a specific company’s products can post a question or response in a designated area. This helps greatly in finding exactly what you need without having to wade through irrelevant posts and comments. When you go looking for information, you do not want to read a bunch of non-specific complaints and requests for new enhancements—you just need answers that will keep you on track, utilizing your solutions to their fullest and taking care of your customers.

You’re among friends

Knowing you are in a secure environment is also very important. Having a moderator that will monitor content to check links and redirect posts when needed, gives you the benefit of knowing that you will receive accurate, credible information. However, other users—just like you—are the ones you will be having virtual discussions with, so you don’t have to worry about someone trying to sell you something. Tips, tricks and answers from someone who uses the same product as you do every day can be very insightful and save you time.

Social learning from online communities is one of the strongest trends in the ever-growing use of new technology in dealerships. This collaboration among total strangers via a virtual environment may sound foreign to some people, but it is based on the idea that no one likes to be confused and frustrated. The give-and-take of knowledge that online ‘user-to-user’ communities afford each person involved can lead to everyone being able to do their job more effectively and a more efficient use of technology for all dealerships.

Changing the way you do things is always difficult, but talking to people who have been in your shoes will help ease the transition. The next time you are challenged by technology, seek out an online ‘user-to-user’ community that will give you specific, easy-to-find information from people who have experienced the same issues as you. Trust me, it’s much more cost effective than throwing your mouse at your screen.

Authors: 
Tom Kelter

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