Clearspace X fosters customer relationships through online communities
Easy-to-use collaboration package injects team-building features such as IM and presence awareness
Successful organizations typically share one important trait: they listen to customers. In the Web 2.0 era, perhaps the best way to embrace -- and extend -- this concept is through online communities. Jive Software has taken its Clearspace collaboration product (which glues together blogs, wiki, document management, and discussion forums) and endowed it with new features specifically for building these public-facing communities.
The external edition, Clearspace X, is an easily administered J2EE application or hosted service that lets you quickly create communities; in turn, each is structured by understandable topics. For example, a financial institution could have communities for banking, loans, mutual funds, and retirement. Each community would contain specific blogs, wikis, and forms. I found this scheme far better for quickly finding relevant information than having it spread throughout one large site. Clearspace X also has content ratings, a reward system, question and answer, polls, and announcements -- all of which help members stay engaged while hopefully forming a positive opinion of your organization.
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Prominently placed action lists let users post new discussion threads or perform other authorized tasks. I liked the ability to mark a discussion thread as a question, which encourages others to share their experiences or point the originator to an answer. The main toolbar offers an alternate way to create new content, while providing access to “Your Stuff,” such as open questions. As an incentive to answer questions, the top posters are prominently shown on the community home page and elsewhere in the site.
Creating discussions, wiki documents, and blog posts using the rich-text editor is simple, which should persuade even computer novices to participate in communities. Moreover, advanced document features let me compare version changes side by side and restore previous versions of wiki documents when necessary.
For companies using Clearspace X as a support portal, I believe the feature that allows users to download most documents as PDF files will be very helpful.
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