Benefits of Discussion Forums and Q&A Forums

Jon Allen January 21, 2022

We’ve all likely used them in our private life. From posting in the cycling club’s chatroom about meetups after work to sharing recipes with fellow amateur chefs to looking for answers or asking questions to resolve an issue with a consumer product, discussion forums and question and answer forums open the door to information sharing on our hobbies, lifestyle, and interests. But how can they benefit businesses?

From streamlining customer service operations to generating a wealth of useful content to be recalled and reused at a later date, the advantages of installing a discussion forum or question and answer forum as a tool for your business’ online presence are many.

In this article, we’ll tell you five benefits that your organization can experience, right now.

Discussion forums and Q&A forums become safe spaces to research and gather information and solve problems

Posting on a discussion forum is a quick, easy and accessible way of asking questions, getting answers, and retrieving information. When compared to a customer service phone call, the barriers to entry are much lower. By simply offering a discussion forum or question and answer forum as a platform for your customers and prospects to voice their opinions and ask questions, you’re removing a barrier – the traditional phone call ­– which many may not wish to do. Some examples of why include: the issue is not considered important enough to sit in a call queue, the customer does not have the time to wait, or the customer does not want to complain to a person over the phone. As a result of this, more issues get resolved and better brand trust is built through digital tools such as discussion forums and question and answer forums as part of a brand’s online community experience.

Issues can be self-resolved or crowdsourced-solved

As mentioned above, issues can be resolved over a discussion forum or question and answer forum.

Starting with a simple search from a popular search engine or from the search bar on a web self-service page, customers and would-be customers, are presented with relevant, helpful resources in various forms.

Conversational knowledge, that which is created organically as a result of discussions or questions and answers, is discoverable. Curated knowledge, which is often created as a result of conversations and then structured into short concise formats like FAQs or knowledge articles, is also discoverable.  These are all great resources for self-service and self-resolution.

If customers or would-be customers are unable to find what they are looking for, they can engage others for help. We call this audience of other viewers and visitors “the crowd”.  They can start a discussion or ask a question and wait for the crowd to respond.  The crowd is made up of company employees, subject matter experts, or moderators.  And, the crowd is made up of even more non-employees that just want to help others because they too received help from others in the past. This equates to incredible scalability with fewer employee resources involved supported by helpful fans of your products and services.

Find out more about our forum software options.

Your brand will have a wealth of user-generated content

Having the aforementioned pool of searchable content means that users will start to use your discussion forums and question and answer forums as a useful resource, increasing your brand’s reputation and growing insights it can use for product and service improvements. But beyond the initial use of this content, what’s also happening is that your business creates its own search engine optimization strategy. By automatically having this organically-growing bulk of content, which will naturally be targeted to key terms for your brands, you should see an accessible body of useful content start to form. Your marketing department or select digital agency partner can show you how to take advantage of this build-up of content with a solid SEO strategy.

Over time, communities of trust are created

Although we briefly touched upon this earlier in the article, the importance of having a long-lasting, well-trusted digital community, “your crowd”, cannot be stressed enough. As time goes on, these same users will return again and again to self-serve, ask questions, get and give answers, and share their knowledge with others, all while recommending your brand to their friends and co-workers along the way. This is how branded communities are built, and soon, a trusted group of contributors, advisers, and experts form, mixed in with prospects, question-askers, and newbies alike. The perfect storm for a successful discussion forum or question and answer forum that creates big value for your brand.

Discussion forums and Q&A forums encourage user retention online, which drives sales

The more useful your discussion forums and question and answer forums are, the more pages a user is likely to want to view across your website, which equals more time spent on site.

When more users want to browse through your website and spend more time on it, you’re creating an environment that’s more likely to drive sales. Discussion forums and question and answer forums are often a point of entry to a website from search engines, as they create useful answers to query-driven searches either about your product/brand, your service, or your industry. When you tie this in with the ability to drive sales through clever calls-to-action, you have a community forum that doubles as a conversion-driving machine.

Want to speak to one of our experts to find out how a discussion forum software could benefit your business or organization? Get in touch today.