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How ChurnZero Integrates Community and Customer Data to Improve the Customer Experience


ChurnZero is a customer success platform that helps customer success teams work efficiently, deliver greater customer value, and drive more revenue. The SaaS company empowers its users to run sophisticated, comprehensive customer success programs.

ChurnZero’s own CX team embraced a digital-first approach to scale their services, and created their online community as a centralized hub for customers.

Over the past year, their community has blossomed into the vibrant customer experience destination ChurnZero envisioned. Leading this project are Peter Adams, manager of customer enablement, and Maureen Rice, customer marketing manager. They developed a reengagement strategy for customers and used compelling community data to show its value to internal stakeholders.


Where They Started: Lack of Community Engagement


When they took a closer look at the community, Peter and Maureen found two key areas for improvement. Externally, there was an opportunity to increase customer engagement, as participation levels were lower than desired. Internally, there was a need to raise the community’s priority and standing among the departments that could help make it a customer hub.

Identifying engagement blockers

To understand why customers weren’t engaging with the community, they first examined what they wanted customers to do in the community, and then assessed whether the community reflected that purpose. They discovered that the initial design concept and naming system, which had been fun and figurative, also created confusion. Maureen explained, “People were spending more time trying to figure out how to use the community than getting value from it.”

Redefining community purpose

Peter and Maureen noticed that their team wasn’t fully on board with the community and its direction. Peter emphasized this need for buy-in: “If your colleagues and customers don’t believe in your mission, if they don’t understand it, if they don’t feel good about it, they’re not going to buy in, no matter what your strategies are.”

In addition, they struggled to prove community value with the current setup. Even though they had excellent community data, they didn’t have a way to connect it to their customer data.


What They Did: Create a Two-Fold Reengagement Strategy


Peter and Maureen developed a community reengagement strategy for both customers and colleagues. The first step was to reestablish the community’s core purpose: helping people understand ChurnZero products and the customer success industry.

Reengage customers with a redesign

To attract customers, they knew a redesign was essential. They focused on three key areas where the community’s purpose and reality didn’t align, and where they weren’t meeting ChurnZero’s main messaging principle of simplicity:

  Put discussions front and center, as this was a main draw for customers.

  Simplified the UI using the Vanilla Quick Links menu module.

  Kept users engaged by launching the Vanilla email digest and added a clear call to action on the community homepage to encourage more users to subscribe.

Image: ChurnZero’s community homepage

Maureen’s advice for anyone designing or redesigning an online community: “Build for your users. Don’t just create what you think looks great. Design with intentionality. Understand what makes them tick and what they need.”

Prove value to internal stakeholders 

As part of their redesign, Peter and Maureen made sure they were building in opportunities to show value to internal stakeholders across the customer success, support, product, and marketing teams at ChurnZero. 

They found that using Higher Logic Vanilla’s drag-and-drop widgets—which make it easy to customize the layout of community pages—allowed them to promote departmental content without detracting from the community’s purpose. For instance, they included a call-to-action for leaving reviews (a nod to the marketing team) and promoted the product team’s roadmap webinar recording.  

But the most impactful change was integrating Higher Logic Vanilla with ChurnZero. Peter explained, “We capture data from these widgets and share it with other department stakeholders. As they see value, they naturally wonder, ‘What else can you do for me?’”  

Tying community data to customer data 

They’ve also used their integration to link community activity with customer data. This has established direct connections to community value for stakeholders. Peter added, “Much of the value we’ve gained from Higher Logic Vanilla comes from the integration itself.”  

Here’s just one example: They set up alerts in ChurnZero to keep account owners informed about community activity, which gives them a chance to respond if needed. If not, the owner still gains invaluable insight into the customer’s community activity, all presented concisely via the community activity merge fields. Maureen summed it up perfectly: “Our goal is to bring the community front and center without creating noise.” 

Image: Global Alert sent via ChurnZero to CSMs, featuring merge fields that incorporate data from their Higher Logic Vanilla community

"The numbers don't lie—customers without community involvement are much more likely to churn. Higher Logic Vanilla is valuable community platform, and we’ll continue to invest in it because it’s genuinely making our customers healthier.”

Headshot Image

Maureen Rice

Customer Marketing Manager


What They Achieved: Community as a CX Hub


Peter and Maureen’s two-fold strategy led to a significant increase in customer engagement. With the integration, they can now connect data back to customer value and showcase the community’s impact to internal stakeholders.

Customers flocking to community

In the first quarter post-redesign, the results were clear:

  –  5x increase in discussions, quarter over quarter.

  –  4x increase in comments, quarter over quarter.

  –  97% faster average time to first response, year over year.

But it didn’t stop there.

Translating engagement into dollars

With the Higher Logic Vanilla integration, they were able to compare community data with customer data to generate concrete results. Maureen said, “It’s our way of proving ROI to executives and stakeholders who don’t necessarily care about the number of discussions started.”

Here’s what they found. Their active community members:

–  Submit 67% fewer support tickets related to product usage and tips.

  Use the ChurnZero platform twice as much.

–  Are 13 times less likely to churn.

Peter and Maureen shared these results with the relevant departments to encourage buy-in. Peter noted, “This exemplifies the value of community for the business. We’re seeing how it impacts the actual business and the ripple effect on individuals.”

For example, by proving the community saves the support team time, they have a more convincing argument for support to provide community content (FAQs, tips of the week, etc.) to proactively educate customers. For CSMs, they now know that customers without community connectivity are more likely to churn, creating a virtuous circle as CSMs encourage customers to get more involved in the community.

Maureen points out, “The numbers don’t lie—customers without community involvement are much more likely to churn. Higher Logic Vanilla is valuable community platform, and we’ll continue to invest in it because it’s genuinely making our customers healthier.”

Man and Woman using community on tablet

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