There are a number of vendors that have setup discussion forums and/or communities for their customers to get help from one another and engage the vendor directly.
For customers who want more than just a transactional relationship with a vendor but want to be kept informed and be engaged in the product or service they are using, these communities are vital. You can participate in several ways.
- Assisting other users
- Getting help
- Contributing and giving ideas for future products
Sage recently announced their Peachtree Online Community , which is a resource for its small business customers to connect with each other for advice, best practices and peer support. The customer-based community will also feature Sage Software executives and Peachtree product teams participating in discussions and posting blog entries on topics such as small business market trends to help small firms better understand new technologies and best practices for developing successful companies.
Constant Contact has a vibrant community of users here. If you really want to learn how others are using email marketing to grow their business then Constant Contact’s community forum is simply a must.
In Microsoft’s Discussion Groups community you can post questions ranging from new user to developer level for all different MS products. There is even an “MVP (Most Valuable Professional)” rating given to contributors who are considered credible experts with exceptional technical knowledge by Microsoft and other community members.
Adobe Communities has online forums, a directory of Community Experts and a call for users to get involved in product research.
Dell’s Small Business 360 has expert advice, articles, and free online courses in their learning center. Dell Community Forums include technical support forums for their products, as well as discussion forums for topics like small business, photo/video, digital music and gaming.
JumpUp from Intuit has a very active community of small business members with a social networking slant, where members can add each other to their contact lists and send messages in addition to participating in the group discussions.
HP’s Learning Center offers free online classes on topics ranging from software training to IT and business skills. Participants interact in an online classroom and share lessons and Q&A.