The use of online forums by housing associations is relatively widespread. Often used so that tenants can express their views, engage in conversations with others and share ideas about housing and their own organisation. The openness of forums brings issues of confidentiality (discussion around individual issues, mentioning staff/tenant names or addresses and reporting housing repairs) and the use of offensive language all need careful monitoring.
That said, forums are a great way to engage tenants, provide self-service help and an active knowledge base for problem resolution and mutual support.
At Unified Solutions, we're really pleased with the functionality and customisation options available in Kentico's Online Communities solution. Using a central user interface this solution is easy to build, manage and host and offers a simple yet effective way of engaging with your online community while allowing them to interact with each other.
- Blogs - create, edit and publish personal or business blogs allowing readers to add their own comments
- Forums - allow visitors to participate in discussions, share opinions, give feedback, or get help from other users thereby lowering the number of support calls (includes abuse reporting and bad language filtering)
- Social media integration - extend reach by creating a link between your website and your customers' online social presence allowing them to log in to your website via their preferred social channel
- Message boards - gather feedback on your blog posts, articles and other content
- Groups - allow your website visitors to share knowledge and insight by joining groups or sub groups within your website
Recent work carried out by our team of developers here at Unified included optimising Kentico's forums module, re skinned to match the brand of the new website with customised functionality. This new member only area allows users to join pre-configured groups containing one or more forums within which they can post and subscribe for updates. Adding images brings impact to posts and the ratings function allows users to see the updates that are really bringing value.
So if you're looking for ways to add value to your community, forums really are a valuable resource for any housing associations to exploit.