For over an year, Zoho Discussions has been helping businesses and non-profit organizations create and foster communities that involve and empower its members and help crowd-source decision making.
One of the design goals of Zoho Discussions was to reduce the amount of technical expertise administrators needed to setup and maintain an user community. But one of the things we’ve heard loud and clear is that many of our customers did not find the initial setup process as easy as they’d like it to be. The main reason was that Zoho Discussions setup management had so many options and controls that it took some time to get used to.
We also realized that our customer base was broadly split into two main segments – those who wanted to setup a private community (for improving employee engagement, supporting private beta launches etc) and those who wanted to set up a public customer support community.
Based on the feedback and customer profile segmentation, we have improved our sign-up and community-creation process focusing on streamlining two key scenarios: private communities and public customer support. When you sign-up for Zoho Discussions, we make it easier for you to quickly get started with one of those two options, and we quietly set on the background a number of parameters you previously had to deal with yourself manually.
This segmentation runs deeper into Zoho Discussions than just settings changes. For instance, you can get a fully powered PRIVATE community for Free – as opposed to paying hundreds of dollars a month for “enterprise plans” of other similar products.
We have also introduced a new getting-started walk-through guide that takes you through the most common settings.
Currently, we also offer a free, no-commitment consultation and implementation support. If you want to explore the feasibility of rolling out Zoho Discussions for your business / project, do get in touch with us.
One of the challenges of running an online community is who you invite or let in to participate.
While some communities are “open”, some other communities, as a result of their nature, tend to be a bit more vigilant about who can come in and read/post.
Zoho Discussions has for long supported membership and provides fine-grained control over who can access and participate in a conversation, but today we are building on that and making it a bit easier.
We built a nifty feature that simplifies life for community admins:
Membership requests allow visitors to apply for memberships that the community admin would then evaluate and grant. If adopted for your community, this subscription feature in Zoho Discussions will help you know your users better and also help reduce spam. This is also ideal for open communities where you would like to know your users better before you allow them in to participate. This feature also integrates well with the existing moderation options, by
enabling you to provide subscribers a higher level of access to specific areas of your community. For example: you could allow everyone to come and read the posts, but then only allow posting to people who have been screened. Or you could allow read/post grants in certain forums, but access to other forums to only the users you choose.
So how do you go about setting one up? All you need to do is toggle a switch in your Portal settings. (you can read this in detail
Once you do that, users visiting your community will see a prompt in the portal specific login page (which you can
too). If your portal is open for guest access, a guest will see a prominent widget prompting for subscription.
You can view all subscription requests in the moderation panel and approve them one by one or in a single shot.
Now you can make your user community spam free and more engaging! We invite you to try
today and let us know how we can help at firstname.lastname@example.org.
It has been more than a month since we wrote about any thing new in Zoho Challenge. However, our friends and fans out there have made sure that it was not quiet on the media front. In the past 6 weeks, Zoho Challenge was covered in several blogs, newspapers and was also mentioned in
program and just yesterday at
Teacher Boot Camp
. Not only that, in the period, the volume of users using Zoho Challenge has almost tripled – of course without any strain on the
Consistent with serious usage, we have received lot of feedback and feature requests from our users. We have been continuously adding power to Zoho Challenge and the precious feedback we received from users like you have helped us refine and fine tune the product significantly. Over the next few weeks, we will unveil each of these features and enhancements done to Zoho Challenge.
To begin with, we have answered the oft repeated query – “How do I import questions into question banks“? Zoho Challenge now supports a “bulk question import” feature. Using this feature, you can now import CSV or MS Excel (xls) files containing your questions directly into the question bank of your choice.
You can upload about 1,000 questions at a time. This feature is available in all our
. Stay tuned to this space for more announcements.
You cannot improve what you cannot measure! In this day where inbound traffic is everything for a website, webmasters can’t live without Web Analytics tools. They give you hard data about how your website was accessed, the usage patterns, user interests and trends and so on.
However, they cannot tell you semantic data about your application. For instance, Google Analytics cannot tell you the efficiency of your support reps, or the rate of participation of your customer community. It cannot tell you whether your users really “found” the answers to most of their questions or they just kept shooting in the dark till they got frustrated. It cannot tell you if ideas are languishing without votes or questions without answers. You will need special tools for that.
You can now use the unique user participation trend graphs to find out how many users are effectively engaging. Such stats let you figure out the effectiveness of the knowledge base that you have accumulated in your customer support community. How? Well, if the number of users visiting the site does not drop down (measurable using this dashboard or also from WebAnalytics tools), but the participation levels have gone down, then possibly users are finding their queries answered – just the nirvana you want to achieve through your support community. Of course, this analysis is not complete without measuring the participation or closure rate on topics raised. That brings us to the next graph
The stats dashboard also gives you snapshot graphs that show the effectiveness of your customer support community. Higher response rates indicate satisfied customers – since most of their queries are answered and issues solved. You can use this data to drive improvement campaigns centered around increasing customer satisfaction.
Sometimes just knowing generic participation is not enough. Zoho Discussions packs a powerful
topic type segregation
feature that helps your users classify their queries / opinions into discussions or questions or ideas or problems. If you are running a customer support community area, it is very important that you are answering all user queries and problems on a daily basis. Ideas on the other hand need more thought, analysis before a response is made. The statistics dashboard can help you differentiate response periods for each topic type. The figure on the right side shows that user Questions need attention from your customer support representatives.
for your customer support community today. Improve your customer satisfaction!