Customer support does not build communities. Community and customer support should be BFFs in a business but they should not be one and the same. Customer support teams should be in constant communication with community managers so CMs can alleviate users’ pain points, create better experiences, and segment user types for targeted outreach.
But customer support is not a substitute for community development. If you want to hire a community manager to run your support and manage your community, stop for a moment and consider what an overwhelming assignment that is.
A great community manager is super-organized, empathetic, filled with energy and enthusiasm for your product, and is crazy creative. And they should use those strengths to take your product to places it has never been before (and, no, that doesn’t just mean more Facebook likes on your posts).
Your community manager should not spend their time answering emails all day or tweeting back at people with complaints. Because, if you let them, they will (we like helping people!). Instead, your community manager should make your users feel and act like the superstars they are. Let them work cross-functionally to better your products, start contests, plan parties, envision ambassador programs and, above all, create clear goals and metrics for success.
Use a customer support tool and create a team (big or small) to do your customer support and advocacy. Call it what it is. Don’t call it community building. If you want community to be built around your product, empower your community managers to empower your users beyond complaining and into loving your product so much that they live it.