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  1. #1
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    Lightbulb Should webhosting companies run forums?

    Hi, I am Anima Webhosting Resource Manager and I got interested in this subject: One "free" hosting company runs a forum - it is sort of a forum where people that use free and unguaranteed services complain about the services and say how bad the free hosting is but some of our customers - when asking about detailed services - ask about online forum.

    In fact our support is 100% complete (email, icq, phone etc....) and having a forum seems to be just more administrational burden because we solve most of the customers requests within 30 minutes and generally there is simply no need for a forum.

    But on the other hand, if we provide the forum to our customers - maybe their discussion could be a good recommendation for incoming ones - what do you think?

    I mean if we run forum we have to invest into our persons salaries some extra pays and I am not sure it is worth it - I am interested mostly in the webhosting services users opinion. Thank you,

    Kamil
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  2. #2
    Join Date
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    A provider must focus on service not on additional details. If a gost maintans a good fourm it needs at least 2 moderators. You can invest in better customer support instead of own forum. At the same time you can build large Help Desk section.

    Best Regards
    Dimitar
    DawHB.com - Web Hosting Blog | VPSHostDir.com - VPS Hosting Media
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  3. #3
    Join Date
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    Re: Should webhosting companies run forums?

    Originally posted by anima webhosting
    . . . But on the other hand, if we provide the forum to our customers - maybe their discussion could be a good recommendation for incoming ones - what do you think?
    From my experience, having a forum is a HUGE sales tool for your business, if you run a good hosting operation. If you're a lousy host and neglect your clients, then a forum will be bad for sales.
    AussieHost.com Aussie Bob, host since 2001
    Host Multiple Domains on Fast Australian Servers!!
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  4. #4
    Yes, but it can save a LOT of support time - for example, the once-good-but-now-hopeless Powweb does actually have one plus side still, and that is a large member forum, with 20,000 members all helping each other. One thing though, they've got a LOT of mods who'll squash threads of dissent quite quickly! Although some still remain.

    Overall, I'd pick a host with a forum over another host if the two were identical in other respects.
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  5. #5
    Join Date
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    Forum is best way, as you can have various support desk at same time,

    for ex: if someone donot know how to install an script, if the live support is offline he would prefer to ask some one.

    if the forum is available , some one with an hosting A/c already can reply to your thread and help which indeed makes your company good remark and the client gets an good satisfaction with an fast reply.

    Having an forum is FREE and maintaining it is also simple.
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  6. #6
    I would say yes, but only for support forums, so that if something is wrong, people can get help.
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  7. #7
    Join Date
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    Hi,

    I personally feel that a support forum is an asset to a hosting provider, however it does have its positive and negative aspects too.

    Again as many have already outlined in this thread already, having a forum can aid any support issues which a client may have if your live chat system if offline.

    And again this is great, but some hosts provide other options such as flash tutorials, e-mail helpdesk as well as the live chat, so if a forum is missing those routes can also be explored.

    On top of all that, the actual script developers tend to provide support as well, clients could also explore any support material provided there too.

    The only negative aspect I can currently think of is the fact that if you don’t have many clients, or your clients are corporate clients who don’t use forums then those clients who do decide to venture off to your forum for support may find it lacking.

    Instead in this type of situation, I feel its best not to provide any forum as other support options are available to clients.

    And the common negative aspect of a forum, maintaining the integrity of the forum and policing it accordingly. If you don’t have staff who can moderate the forum it can become a spam pit from many individuals.

    At the end of the day, you will need to consider which option is best for you. But we have been able to provide support, tutorials and script support to all our clients so far without the need of a forum.
    Tahir Ahmed
    NetspaceOnline.net - Reliable Personal Web Site Hosting & Business Web Hosting Solutions!
    NSDomains.net - Our Dedicated Domain Registration & Management Portal!
    • Reseller Hosting Solutions • Linux Plesk 8 Control Panel • Provding Quality Hosting Since 2001
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  8. #8
    A problem you also have to face is the fact that you have to get a skin for your forum, otherwise your site and your forums will look like an odd couple, which is a bad thing.

    Another bad thing is the fact that other people could find out your problems by looking at the thread you are looking at, which is a bad thing if you want private things.
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  9. #9
    Research your field that really you need it, and think, Is it easy to you to create a community geared towards the subject of your website?

    Do you think the necessities that on that platform people want to interact with each other?

    Do you have analyzed how others are doing?

    Overall an active forum will create traffic to your website however a dead forums on your website may perhaps drive people away.
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  10. #10
    My current host is F5 Hosting, and it has its own forum in addition to helpdesk and ticket support.
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  11. #11
    Join Date
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    IMO the success (and utility) of support forums can depend on the market you're after and the importance you give them in the overall support related infrastructure.

    Aussie Bob managed to spin his entire old business, HTTPme, around the support forums, but we must appreciate the fact that many of his customers were web developers and hosts (resellers), who are somewhat prone to using forums, and he made the forums, quite literally, the face of the company.
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  12. #12
    Yes i think they should, it can serve both ways. I like to visit my hosts forums if i occur a problem as i may find the answer there, also i read the forums before i joined to get a feeling of what the hosts was like.
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  13. #13
    Join Date
    Jan 2005
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    A host with a forum may also provide services beyond simple webhosting. ZapX has a forum that inlcudes many subforums for coding and website help. It goes beyond basic ticket problems, to just beiung able to ask a How To.
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  14. #14
    I think a forum would help a lot, it helps you communicate with the clients, and keep them up-to-date.
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  15. #15
    Join Date
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    Pakistan
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    yes, i think Forums are key thing for hostig as it will greatly help clients incase of getting FAQs
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  16. #16
    Join Date
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    Czech Republic
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    Thank you guys for your opinions! I see both sides of the problem and will surely present it the way you do, but one thing comes to my mind:

    As someone metioned, some individual may spam it etc., is it a good idea to keep a forum for clients only? Like only if it is our customer we gve him the login to access it or is it better to keep it general?
    Thank you for your relies again!
    Kamil Patka
    Anima Webhosting Resource Manager
    Great prices, great services
    Email me if you have any questions
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  17. #17
    Join Date
    Apr 2003
    Location
    Lisbon - Portugal - Europ
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    IMO the success (and utility) of support forums can depend on the market you're after and the importance you give them in the overall support related infrastructure. Aussie Bob managed to spin his entire old business, HTTPme, around the support forums, but we must appreciate the fact that many of his customers were web developers and hosts (resellers), who are somewhat prone to using forums, and he made the forums, quite literally, the face of the company.
    On target, ldcdc! You have to know your market and client base. A forum is a great asset if it can build a community of clients willing to help each other.

    In some countries, it's hard to build an online community of individuals willing to share their knowledge.

    And you need a good support record. And very good moderators. What will you do when someone starts inventing bad things about your company. You have the power to delete that thread. Should you delete it? And if it's a customer complaining about your company? You might not agree with him. But you will never have 100% satisfaction rate! You will always have clients that will not like your service or will not like your company. WHT is about good hosts and bad hosts. But clients are everyday people. Some are great individuals. Others are normal individuals, just like me. And some are bad individuals, like some bad hosts we read about. How will you manage these difficult clients?

    You can't expect a forum to be a a great sales tool if you lock it up.
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  18. #18
    It is necessary to maintain the integrity of the forum and keeping it active. I think if you’ve a sales forum having your customer’s interaction to potential customers, and they are praising your service and support that much more reflect your credibility and sales prospective
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  19. #19
    Join Date
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    Originally posted by etechsupport2
    . . . I think if you’ve a sales forum having your customer’s interaction to potential customers, and they are praising your service and support that much more reflect your credibility and sales prospective
    Yes, imo, that's the ultimate "sales tool", if you can call it that. There is just nothing better, from a sales perspective, when you have a potential client asking questions, and those questions being answered by your existing clients.
    AussieHost.com Aussie Bob, host since 2001
    Host Multiple Domains on Fast Australian Servers!!
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  20. #20
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    Originally posted by ldcdc
    IMO the success (and utility) of support forums can depend on the market you're after and the importance you give them in the overall support related infrastructure.

    Yes indeed. You are 100% correct.
    Aussie Bob managed to spin his entire old business, HTTPme, around the support forums, but we must appreciate the fact that many of his customers were web developers and hosts (resellers), who are somewhat prone to using forums, and he made the forums, quite literally, the face of the company.
    Right again!

    Currently I'm targetting a different market, and as such, have adopted a different model than httpme.

    Regarding the httpme market, web developers, resellers etc, they are very interactional online, and a forum (communications platform) was the most direct method of facilitating that level of intense interaction that they sought.

    I saw httpme as an interactional platform, where both clients, potential clients and httpme staff could connect and communicate with eachother. Kind of like a big machine in the middle, and folks plug into it from the outside, and get what they need from the machine.

    I started httpme with a forum in the background, as convention dictates, but as time progressed, I quickly realised we needed a higher level of interaction. So I thought why not have the business as a forum, and bring the forum upfront, instead of behind the conventional site.

    Noone in the hosting business (or many other online businesses) had ever done this, so it was a big risk. Of course the idea was widely scoffed at, but in my heart I knew it was the right direction. It also helped httpme stand out from the crowd, and in a saturated marketspace, that's pure gold.

    But as ldcdc so wisely stated, the httpme model only worked because of the type of clients we were targetting, with web developers and resellers.
    AussieHost.com Aussie Bob, host since 2001
    Host Multiple Domains on Fast Australian Servers!!
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  21. #21
    Let's not forget the other benefit of a forum...mass client announcements. Particularly useful for server outages updates, shutdowns, new features, etc.
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  22. #22
    Join Date
    Jun 2005
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    running forum hosting looks more reliable.
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  23. #23
    Yes, It looks reliable when the forum is providing the specific information, encouragement, support, true reviews and cautious tales from other members.

    Your personal interest is required to create it and to develop a community and keeping it active.

    Otherwise keeping a sick or dead forum on your website will drive away the potential customers.
    Last edited by etechsupport2; 06-07-2005 at 03:28 AM.
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  24. #24
    We've been running a forum for a number of years. Has worked well for us. Just be sure you have enough staff to man the forum and be responsive to posts.
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  25. #25
    Join Date
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    I think running a forum is good for your host. People could read customer's reivews in the forums, and current customers could get support through the forums.
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  26. #26
    Join Date
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    India
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    I feel forums run by webhosting companies are one of the good channels to keep their clients updated of all their activities.
    Instead of informing all the clients individually, it is easier to post the topic on the forum and ask the clients to refer the topic posted on the forums.

    Any problem with the servers or their networks can immediately be published on the forums and the clients get an immediate idea of what is happening around with the company.

    Besides, many a times forums prove to be a good channel to promote the company where users can ask questions (presales or technical) and discuss the various topics related to that company policies.

    They are definately one of the best channels to keep the clients and the new signups tuned to the hosting company.
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