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  #1  
Old 02-21-2001, 11:30 AM
CRego3D CRego3D is offline
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Question

Hi everybody

Quite a few of my customers have been asking me why don't I put a forum up for them, so they can interact with each others, and in occassions exchange ideas, or even help...

I am a bit weary about it .. since the way I look at it, if Customer "A" has a problem .. and customer "B", "C" and "D" never used that feature, but realize they also have the same problem (upon checking if that feature works for them), then it will be 4x more support tickets to handle.

My Question is for those Hosts with Forums for their customers .. how good/bad of an idea is it ?

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  #2  
Old 02-21-2001, 11:42 AM
alucasa alucasa is offline
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Well. I have never ran a web hosting company but I have tried many webhosts.

In my opinion, having a support forum or community forum is a good idea. It gives me a feeling that the people in web hosting company are closer to me. Also if you run good job and a guest visit the forum, your customers praise your service to the guests! Of course if you see the bad side, some people might plan to flame you and your sevice. But everything has it's upside and downsite. It is You taking the good and the risk.

I am currenlty hosted with JaguarPc. They have an open support forum. I have seen a few guests came along and asked how good their service might be. A few members praised their service even before admin or sale stuff posted an answer.

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  #3  
Old 02-21-2001, 12:26 PM
Duster Duster is offline
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I think there are essentially two philosophies when it comes to forums and potential problems. One is to keep things quiet, hope people won't find out, and (hopefully) take care of any known problems.

Another is to have an open forum where any problems can be brought out into the open, and then deal with those problems. Instead of pretending problems don't exist, customers and potential customers can see how a company handles those problems and how fast.

This applies to software publishers, hosting companies and others.

I favor the latter philosophy. It is honest and open. We all end up with problems. I want to know how they are handled. I expect my customers want to know the same.

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  #4  
Old 02-21-2001, 12:37 PM
gthorley gthorley is offline
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As a business decision I wouldn't do it. First thing you know someone with an axe to grind, possibly without good reason, will start spaming and be a nuicanse then you will have to either live with it or ban them. They will then use the fact you cut of their right to free speech etc.etc.

You are in the hosting business leave the forums to someone else.

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  #5  
Old 02-21-2001, 12:46 PM
melia melia is offline
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As a hosting customer, I appreciate a support board. HostRocket has it's KnowledgeBase that's good to stop in and ask if another customer can help you before you ask support.

  #6  
Old 02-21-2001, 12:48 PM
Martie Martie is offline
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well Im not sure?

I opened a forum and even notified my customers that it was there, and invited them to drop in and post!
You can have a look...theres no posts!
Im leaving it up for now, but not sure it will be something permanent though.
I started out trying to make it a support forum..then I did change some topics so its more of a basic BB than anything, BUT obvioulsy it hasnt worked for me.
I am a small company....luckily Im never bogged down with a ton of support questions. I dont know, obviously my experience has been best handled through email, for any support, etc.

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  #7  
Old 02-21-2001, 12:50 PM
alucasa alucasa is offline
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Re: well Im not sure?

Quote:
Originally posted by Martie
I opened a forum and even notified my customers that it was there, and invited them to drop in and post!
You can have a look...theres no posts!
Im leaving it up for now, but not sure it will be something permanent though.
I started out trying to make it a support forum..then I did change some topics so its more of a basic BB than anything, BUT obvioulsy it hasnt worked for me.
I am a small company....luckily Im never bogged down with a ton of support questions. I dont know, obviously my experience has been best handled through email, for any support, etc.
I do know the feeling. Look at this http://vbulletin.com/forum/showthrea...&threadid=9277

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  #8  
Old 02-21-2001, 12:53 PM
iBiz iBiz is offline
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As a web host user and not a provider, I checked out many places and the ones that had forums usually had the one bad post that made me go elsewhere. The biggest thing against forums was someone posting a ligitimate question and never seeing an answer. Makes me wonder if the provider contacted then personally or ignored them. Good luck with whatever you decide.
Keith (duncanroots.com)

  #9  
Old 02-21-2001, 01:20 PM
JustinK JustinK is offline
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While they can be great, they can also be horrible. As said earlier, one person has a problem, it spreads. Also, remember that the more ways of support you put in, the more things you have to check up on. Someone may post a message on the board, e-mail you, and then send you a message through something else and you have to make sure you reply to everything so people don't see it as not being answered. If you want to check up on the board every so often, go for it.

Also, remember you need to keep close watch on customer interaction. Sometimes the customers will start up a war with each other (they're humans, it happens) and you need to break up the fight and either toss the thread or lock it down so they don't try to kill each other.

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  #10  
Old 02-21-2001, 01:23 PM
Duster Duster is offline
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There are a few things about a support forum one should know. First, many customers will contact support directly, especially on major problems, so the forum won't be used. It is an indirect way of announcing a problem. Secondly, it's for their use. No one should be distressed if they choose not to use it (especially in light of the first reason).

Incidentally, klisis, I feel that that advice you got about phony discussions is terrible. I would lose faith in a host that used any deceptive practices and the truth comes out sooner or later.

Thirdly, just having one, even unused, might help simply by showing potential customers that it is available and you don't mind making any problems public. If they should ask why there are no posts, or few posts, you can respond that you take care of any problems right away when they contact you directly so they never post. That's the truth in my case. I have a support forum that is yet to see its first post, When a customer has a problem, they either e-mail me or pick up the phone and I get right on it (or have already fixed it).

Sometimes the problem is elsewhere, as when recently when a customer had failed to renew their domain name and their site no longer came up. Regardless, I address it immediately and there is no need to post.

Incidentally, gthorley, the negative scenario you depict wouldn't be spamming, nor would it be cutting off someone's right to free speech. Insofar as it applies to Americansm the 1st amendment says that "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."

That does not mean that anyone has a right to say anything anywhere they want. Posting on any privately owned forum is a privilege afforded by the owner, not an inherent right.

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  #11  
Old 02-21-2001, 01:58 PM
CRego3D CRego3D is offline
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Excellent points of view here

Indeed if you put a forum up, you need to take time to reply to questiosn there as well, and that doesn't consern me, neither does bringin problems in the open, sometimes might help

I was just wondering why some hosts seem to remove their forums, and others to totally remove them from public view (only avail to current customers) .. just no need to open a can of worms

but in the other hand, I can see the benefit of having one, better interaction with the customers, and great source for feedback

I'll probably put one up .. we have nothing to loose .. if people abuse it, we'll deal with it then

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  #12  
Old 02-21-2001, 06:39 PM
Webdude Webdude is offline
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Well, regardless of some people's negative opinions as to having a forum, I say go for it. It is relatively simple to setup regulars to it as moderators. People love being a part of the action, and many enjoy being moderators on their host's support forums. Just have to be sure they are ones you can trust.....such as longtime clients.

It is correct that many will not post their problems on your forum, but would search and read, and if they dont find the answer, would still email rather than post. There are many however, that prefer a forum. The only way I can see why anyone would NOT have a support forum, is if they have something to hide and prefer to be a bit dishonest about it....sorry to those who feel different, but this is how I feel because of the success I've had with my support forums. Our forums do quite well. Jan 13 I closed our old threaded forums (400,000 posts and several thousands of members) and opened a new one using IkonBoard. It currently has 334 members, 4859 posts, and 981 topics. Yes all problems are shown immediatly, but then you can fix them as soon as you know of them. Many times people will both post as well as email you so that you get their info either way. If you read thru my forums, you will see how much people appreciate the honesty. If there is a prob, most people are very understanding as long as you acknowledge it and attempt to fix it.

As long as you maintain control of spam and abuse, you can do well, especially if you allow freedom of expression. Dont remove threads simply because someone cuts you or your company down....or say something you dont agree with. I never remove posts unless there is cussing in it.

I say go for it. Ignore those who are too scared of negativity to have their own support forums.

  #13  
Old 02-21-2001, 08:46 PM
CRego3D CRego3D is offline
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Thanks

I think you are right .. becides vBulletin is cheap, so might as well

.. now .. Advertizing Forum ??

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  #14  
Old 02-21-2001, 08:53 PM
Chicken Chicken is offline
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Advertsing Forum, yes. Even though your question (survey/poll) was intended for hosts only, other people replied, thus I had to move it here. Still gets looked at and I left a link where it was to here.

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  #15  
Old 02-21-2001, 10:59 PM
Jag Jag is offline
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Hey Carlos

We run an open forum and dont hide it from non-clients. That woul kind of detract from the whole point and it also allows potential clients to ask current clients about us. Sure there are those horrible times that all hosts have eventually when something goes wrong or perhaps your provider screws things up for you and people get angry and want to air their frustration. I welcome the freedom of speech and if weve screwed up we shouldnt hide it, we should take care of it! Everyone make mistakes, not everyone handles it well when they do. And on the goo d notes, when all is going well you will see an increase in sales when the happy users help promote you. Also it actually decreases the support on you a little, most clients are more than eager to help a fellow client out. One last note, I would not recommend creating "false users" to try and promote action on the boards. Either it works for you or it doesnt. Well, let me know how it turns out. Jag

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