I have been writing about a number of community platforms recently. So I was interested to see Zoho Discussions. It allows businesses and organizations to create internal and external communities. A number of communities see customer service as a prime use case. This is also the situation with Zoho Discussions. Zoho points out that organizations can improve their support experience through customer support forums, conduct customer research and get insights on preferences with product idea boards, and create intranet discussion forums for internal conversations.
Raju Vegesna, the Zoho evangelist I have spoken to several times said that with Zoho Discussions organizations can, ”create a natural spot where customers gather to exchange ideas and experiences, support each other and provide feedback to the company. For example, Zoho Discussions has been powering our own Community site, forums.zoho.com, that we use to stay in close contact with customers, partners and our own teams. So, we’ve seen how effective this form of interaction can be.” This fits with my recent suggested definition of enterprise 2.0 as applications where business value is determined through the contributions of participants.
Zoho Discussions provides familiar social networking features such as profiles, integrated chat, private messages among users, user labels and more. Content stored in communities created with Zoho Discussions can be found through the integrated advanced search, custom organization as well as RSS/Secure RSS subscription options and SEO.
Zoho Discussions allows businesses to remain in control of their brand and the user experience they provide to customers through custom URLs, branding options and elements, customizable look and feel, even including full rebranding (white labeling) options. The topic administration allows community moderators to manage the lifecycle of posts and discussions. For example, depending on the topics enabled, community users will be able to vote on an idea or select the most popular solution for a problem.
Zoho Discussions provides a WYSIWYG editor, threaded conversations, drafts, previews and more. Administration features provide fine grained access controls, auto spam, community-marked content, and user management.
I think this is a nice addition to the Zoho family of tools. A video tour of Zoho Discussions is available.