Infusing Social Communities into Service

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For the rest of the June 2009 issue of CRM magazine — The Social Media Issue — please click here.

Customer service is important, but at Infusionsoft, a provider of marketing-automation software, two traits made it mission-critical: Its customers are largely entrepreneurs, and the company runs on an on-demand model.

“Having a support and customer service center is integral to our business,” says JoAnne Ravielli, vice president of customer service and support at Infusionsoft, which is headquartered in Gilbert, Ariz. When Ravielli took the reins almost a year ago, she reviewed Infusionsoft’s tools for service and support processes. A ticketing system in the support center, she says, failed to cater to the social-infused customers of today—and tomorrow. “As a company, we knew we weren’t going to go forward with the ticketing system because it takes us away from what we’re about,” she says.

Ravielli also admits that at the time there was no deflection built into the system, visibility of particular cases, or any way to open cases online. Deflection was a point of emphasis, but Ravielli didn’t want to throw customer satisfaction out the window. “We wanted…to be not only an area where the customer just goes to find information, but also where they get to know others and they get buy-in to what we were doing in support,” she says. “[That] lends itself to social media.”

Ravielli says the search included several vendors, but community provider Helpstream won out despite an initial concern about its status as a relative newcomer. “We didn’t want to implement the system and have the company fold,” she says.

The power of Helpstream’s product sealed the deal, Ravielli recalls. “The fact is, it’d be silly if we didn’t adopt [it],” she says. “One system integrates the knowledge base, case management, [and] email management system together. I liked that the best.” (For more on Helpstream, named one of CRM’s 2009 Rising Stars, see our April 2009 awards issue.)

Ravielli says the six-week implementation process could have taken half that time, but the company decided midstream it wanted a single-sign-on method and integration into its own product offering. Ravielli says she was impressed with how Helpstream took the unexpected speed bump in stride. “That day we had a developer on the phone,” she says. “The customer service…was just great.”

Infusionsoft went live with Helpstream in December 2008. By the end of that month, the company already had 30 percent deflection to its online knowledge base and community. By April 2009, that figure had risen to 50 percent—creating a 60 percent return on investment in just the first few months. Of customers searching through Infusionsoft’s knowledge base, 70 percent now say that the article in question answered their inquiry.

New customers saw their implementation time drop from six hours to one. “We can now literally create a case that’s like a checklist, and the customer can click on each [implementation] step,” Ravielli says. “If they have a problem, they can click on another button that lets us know to open the case immediately and help.”

Ravielli says she wants to use the social medium to create a more cohesive view of her clients’ customers. “We’d love to [have] a portal with billing, invoicing, last sale, and when the contract expires so there can be all kinds of [personalized] information,” she says. “That’s the next step.” 


Since turning to Helpstream for service and implementation support, Infusionsoft has:

  • reduced case volume by 50 percent, and deflected the rest to its online knowledge base and community;
  • realized a 60 percent return on investment in just the first few months;
  • reduced the average number of open tickets per customer from 3.2 to 1.9;
  • chopped the number of implementation-service hours from six to one; and
  • had 70 percent of the customers who searched knowledge bases indicate the content answered an inquiry.

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