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Onshape’s Customer Support Community is a Roaring Success

8 minute read

August 9, 2021

About Onshape:

Onshape is a revolutionary Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) product development platform that combines CAD, built-in data management, real-time collaboration tools, and business analytics. Unlike other CAD software, Onshape made the need for expensive hardware and software obsolete, by offering a service that works through a web interface, with regular updates, and requires little to no maintenance from users.

The Challenges:

Approaching a public BETA in 2014, Lou and his team realized the dire need for a dedicated space for customers to congregate, share information and ideas, and find support.

The Search:

Vanilla caught the attention of OnShape due to its integration options, its out-of-the-box features such as gamification, and the Q&A feature that would serve their customers. 

The Launch:

Launching a new community came with some pressure, but Lou and his team were delighted by how smoothly everything went with Vanilla and how the community has impacted the business.

Results:

OnShape saw a 20% reduction in support tickets, 4000 questions answered, and more efficient partner onboarding and customer communication.

Lou-Gallo-2

 

 

“The response rate of our community is like 99%. Customers will answer any question that’s thrown in there. It’s awesome to see that full loop of support."

Director of Support, Lou Gallo

 

The Challenges: The Need for a Space for Support

In 2014, Lou and the rest of the OnShape team realized the need for a dedicated space for their customers. Up until this point, there was nowhere being offered for information sharing, support, or for customers to bounce ideas off one another. 

They found that, without a space for product updates and announcements, product ideation, or general support, they were missing out on the ability to have transparency with their customers, value their customers’ ideas and suggestions, or to get any product feedback. 

The support team was overwhelmed with tickets coming in from freemium users; this put a strain on their ability to help paying customers. The inefficiencies this created was affecting the company’s bottom line. OnShape wanted to ensure that they were simultaneously helping their customers and their employees get the most out of their time and efforts.

As SaaS experts in their own right, OnShape could have hosted a community on their own, but they chose to search for a provider that could help them so they could focus on their own product improvements. 

PAIN POINTS

No Dedicated Space

High Ticket Volume

Lacking Product Feedback

There was no space available for customers to reach out to one another or offer support.

This led to high ticket volume from freemium users rather than paying customers.

It also meant there was no option for customers to offer product feedback or ideation.

 

With these goals in mind, Lou began the search for a community provider that could help them to set up a thriving customer community. What they got was so much more.

 

The Search: An Easy Decision

After carefully considering the options that were out there, OnShape quickly identified Vanilla as the best fit for their needs. Not only did they have expert experience setting up product focused communities, but Vanilla also offered maximum flexibility to grow with OnShape and connect to their existing ecosystem of Hubspot, Salesforce, Zendesk and Jira.

OnShape wanted a community provider that not only understood what they needed, but could help them to understand their customers further than they already did. Until this point, customer feedback was disjointed and analyzing it was incredibly difficult for support and product teams alike.

Something that really mattered to OnShape was ensuring their community could allow their support team to be as efficient as possible. That meant ensuring the forum was the first spot for questions and feedback. Without a dedicated space for their customers, OnShape knew they needed a Q&A feature that could be used to encourage support between members, not just from the support team. 

They also wanted a way to reward engagement; they wanted their users to enjoy contributing and offering support. Vanilla could help them to understand their users and reward them with out-of-the-box functionalities such as a knowledge base, Q&A, and gamification. Using badges to not only reflect the OnShape language but to help them to connect with their users. The Vanilla software could offer them invaluable data that, to this point, was unavailable to them.

 

THE ONSHAPE CHECKLIST

Open Source

The opportunity to port to the open source version of Vanilla if needed.

Gamification 

Strong engagement functionality like gamification to keep their rewards on brand.

Q&A

OnShape needed a Q&A functionality to encourage support between their members. 

Integration Capabilities

Flexible platform that integrates with existing software ecosystem.

Ideation

OnShape wanted an option for customers to share product ideas and use cases.



The Launch: Streamlined Success

The launch of the OnShape community went off without a hitch. OnShape wanted a space for their customers to help one another, share product feedback and ideas, and to facilitate efficient, clear communication between employees and customers. 

The integrations that Vanilla offered allowed OnShape to push support issues, work assignments and bugs to ZenDesk and Jira. This alone was a huge boost to the support team - they found their community to be instantly helpful. 

There was a surge of membership in the first weeks and the support from Vanilla was top class. OnShape knew they were in capable, caring hands. The Vanilla SuccessTeam walked OnShape through the motions to ensure their community was as streamlined and successful as possible. 

 

The Results: Better than just Customer Support

OnShape has been a Vanilla customer for over seven years now and their community has gone from strength to strength. The community was a success almost immediately! 

"We used to get 35% of tickets from pro users, and the rest was from free and EDU users. However, when we encouraged members to use the community for support instead of tickets. We saw things flip. Now 65% of tickets are from pro users and the rest are from free and EDU users. It was pretty substantial. The number of tickets dropped. We saw a reduction of tickets of up to 20%". 

There are over 4,000 questions answered in the OnShape community and more than 65% of these have been accepted by the community members. 

With the adoption of the community for support purposes by freemium users, OnShape has been much better equipped to support its paying customers. 

The forum also had a huge impact on growing the business. It’s a key to success for our Director of Partnerships. It has allowed new partners to find the common questions getting them up to speed super quickly. 

The community has become the hub for product knowledge. The product team can track new products and features that need to have an API and the community has been central to that.

They have a rapid release cycle, with new changes every 3 weeks. They needed a space that made it easy to communicate these changes. Vanilla is used extensively in this way and is very popular with their users. As Lou notes ”We definitely see a surge, like a 75% jump in traffic when we do a release. Everyone knows it’s the place to get the info. We have a lot of regular visitors too, but we also have these jumps when we have these new releases.”

Finally, as a long term user of Vanilla, we asked Lou what his biggest surprise benefit was something simple. “I know it sounds simple, but just pinning the question ‘Have a question? Ask the community’ upfront brought us surprising results. The community has taken to really helping one another and its positively impacted the workload for the support team. We couldn’t be happier.”

 

20%

 

99%

 

4000

Reduction in support tickets

 

Customer response rate

 

Questions asked and answered

 

 

Reflecting on the OnShape Journey

OnShape saw huge successes across the board with their community. From support, to product ideation, to business growth, a community has helped them to operate each department with efficiency and effectiveness. Are you interested in launching a community? Connect with us at Vanilla to discuss what options are best for you and how we can help you achieve success!

 

Community Support

Nuala Cronin

Written by Nuala Cronin

Nuala is the Content Marketing Manager at Vanilla by Higher Logic. Nuala loves creating content, analyzing copy, and all things language.

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