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How Cireson Deflected 90% of its Support Tickets With Vanilla Forums

Cireson is an established leader in IT Service and Asset Management solutions for Microsoft System Center Service Manager and Configuration Manager. As a leading consultant on the System Center platform, Cireson is recognized for its high-quality expertise and providing clients with the resources they need to achieve success.

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The Challenges:

The support team at Cireson spent a good portion of their time answering hundreds of support tickets a week, often with the same types of frequently asked questions.

The Search:

Price and the ability to customize the community to fit the Cireson brand, vision and personality led the search for the perfect vendor, leading them directly to Vanilla.

The Launch:

Cireson's effective phased approach to the launch granted customer access incrementally. This created hype and allowed Cireson to gather and implement feedback a long the way.

Results:

The Cireson community was able to deflect over 90% of support tickets, and quickly became a place where customers gathered to share knowledge and product ideas.

Forums reinvented
"I used to have 40-50 support tickets sitting in my inbox per day, but now it's only about 3-4. Vanilla has proven to be a worthwhile investment, resulting in massive time savings."
Joe Burrows
Senior Support Engineer

The Challenges:

Too Many Support Tickets

"What would it look like if we tried to mimic what Microsoft is doing in the tech support space?"

That was the question posed to Joe Burrows, the Senior Support Engineer at Cireson, by his manager in 2017.

Cireson was receiving hundreds of support tickets a week, often with the same types of questions, and it was causing the support team to have to focus most of their time on responding to these inquiries one-by-one. Joe himself got somewhere between 40-50 support tickets in his inbox per day, and this method of delivering support simply wasn't scalable.

"Everyone was asking the same questions, and when there was a product issue or bug, hundreds of customers ended up logging it," says Joe.

Vanilla So then I just ended up having to basically copy and paste the same response to hundreds of tickets, and it was taking up a good portion of my day. Vanilla

Although Cireson already had a knowledge base, it didn't subside the amount of support tickets being logged, and they continued to be bombarded by frequently asked questions (FAQs). Joe's manager wanted to find Cireson a solution that could enable customers to easily search and find the most common types of support questions. They took a good look at Microsoft and found that their customer community was the cornerstone of their support efforts. Cireson wanted to be able to create the same type of experience for their customers, but with their own unique brand personality.

And so, Joe was given the task to browse the different types of branded community solutions available and select the best one for their unique customer needs.

Pain Points

Non-Scalable

Cireson was receiving hundreds of the same support questions, and answering them one-by-one wasn't sustainable for the long-term.

High Support Ticket Volume

The amount of support tickets submitted was incredibly high and as such, demanded too much time from the support team.

The Search:

Best Price and Best Features

It was price and an advanced search function that topped their list once Joe began his search.

"We did a ton of research, and when we reached out to some of the other vendors that we were considering, the prices were huge—I'm talking hundreds of thousands of dollars a year," says Joe. He continues, "And so the princing offered by Vanilla was incredibly attractive."

But for the price that Vanilla offered, Joe found that he was getting the best of everything. Vanilla had all of the must-have features that Cireson was looking for. As Joe explains, "Out of all the vendors we reached out to, Vanilla was the frontrunner from the get-go."

One of the things that Joe found so compelling about Vanilla was its ability to customize communities to a tee. "With some of the other competitors out there, you'd be stuck with a theme where all you get is the ability to chuck your logo on [the community] and that's it," says Joe. He continues, "So being able to fully theme it to fit our vision helped us place [Vanilla] at the top of our list."

The Cireson Checklist

Ideation

Ideation

“Ideation was incredibly important to us, and Vanilla had just launched this feature, [so we took advantage of it.]”

Gamification

Gamification

“We needed a way to engage customers and compel them to participate while making it fun at the same time—Vanilla gamification helped us get there.”

Customization

Customization

“Vanilla allowed us to customize our community beyond what was offered by other vendors, which was super important to us.”

Cost-Effective

Cost-Effective

“Of all the vendors we looked at, Vanilla offered the best price for the best value, so choosing Vanilla was a really easy decision.”

The Launch:

A Few at a Time

Once Cireson was happy with the theme and customizations of their new community, it was ready to be officially launched. Cireson chose to approach the community launch in phases, so while the community itself was up and running, it was not fully adopted by all members until later on.

"We first started by letting a thousand members in, then another thousand the next week, and so on," says Joe. He continues, "All of our customers were really excited to see what the community had to offer, and the hype grew as more were introduced to the community."

The phased approach turned out to be a huge success. The feedback was overwhelmingly positive and Cireson was quickly able to identify and address any issues as they arose. Ultimately, the launch was without issue.

The Outcomes

More Than Expected

After the community was launched and fully adopted by all customers, Joe and his team noticed an immediate relief in the amount of support tickets submitted. In fact, the difference was so drastic, that Joe could hardly believe it.

Vanilla Vanilla Forums offered a scalable solution that was able to deflect over 90% of our support tickets. Vanilla

Not only that, but the community has grown into something that Joe and his team didn't expect. The community that began as a support-based community has morphed into a hybrid community, where it's now known as "the-go-to-place" for Cireson customers to share their knowledge and show others what they've done with the product.

As Joe explains, "The community grew into more than just a support community—it turned into a place where customers can show off what they've done with the Cireson product, how they've customized it and how far you can take it." Additionally, the community has empowered customers by providing them with a platform to engage by sharing and voting on product ideas. This has allowed Cireson to focus their time and energy on developing the features that matter most to their customers.

As it turns out, the Cireson community was not only successful at addressing the immediate need to deflect support tickets, but it has also proven itself to be a long term, sustainable solution. As Joe explains, "We launched this community in 2017, and now in 2020, our community is able to maintain itself. We've got a few community advocates out there that help us out, and all-in-all, our community is now self-sufficient."

Reflecting on Cireson's Journey

Cireson offers an excellent example of an organization who looked to adopt an online community to deflect support tickets and ended up getting a lot more than what they anticipated. Their community is now thriving with knowledgeable people ready to answer questions, customer ideas and product discussions, and best of all, it's now self-sufficient. Are you looking for a community that can one day operate on its own, with little effort on your part? If so, reach out to us—we’d love to talk about how we can make it happen.