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Smartsheet’s Community Increased Member Engagement & Cost Effectiveness

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The Challenge

Smartsheet started its user community in 2015 on a platform that was developed in-house using open-source software. As business goals for the platform shifted and Smartsheet’s user community grew, the Community team realized they were spending a lot of time and money to develop features that on other platforms were standard—that is, the home-built solution was lacking.

Choosing Higher Logic

With out-of-the-box capabilities that were affordable and cost-effective, Vanilla was a front runner for the new Smartsheet community. Vanilla also offered a degree of support for migration that other platforms lacked.

The Results


Member Answers

Only around 20% of questions asked are answered by a moderator.


Active Members

Their user and early adopter program has helped grow membership.

12 Hour

Response Time

Members can now consult community content to get answers more quickly.

“From our initial engagement at the RFP stage to our “go live” day, Vanilla provided fantastic service and support. The platform offers great value with the features that we needed to deliver a modern community experience to Smartsheet customers."

Gwyenth Casazza

Senior Manager of Support, Smartsheet

The Search for a New Partner

After acknowledging the community team had outgrown its current system, Gwyneth was excited to see what other options were available. As a company, it was time “for an outside vendor for a Community platform.” The team took the opportunity to look holistically at their knowledge management strategy as it related to customer service—the right candidate needed to be flexible enough to incorporate some of the key branding elements of the old system, and also needed to integrate well with existing tools.

Gwyneth and her team were on the hunt for a new vendor that could improve their customer experience with features that were readily available, affordable, and that could more easily demonstrate a return on their investment.

Once they found Vanilla, there were many things that caught their eye. The modern moderation tools, gamification, extensibility through the API, analytics, and more importantly, a “group that’s dedicated focus is Community.”

Vanilla’s attention to detail and focus on improving on their product, price, and UI customizability capabilities were the clincher in the deal for Smartsheet.

The Launch: Attention to Detail

Gwyneth and the team at Smartsheet had already experienced a migration process in the past so were prepared for any bumps in the road: “We spent a lot of time going over the details with our partners at Vanilla, and the pre-work really paid off.”

On the overall experience, the team had this to say: “as part of the package, migration was of great value compared to what competitors had offered—and it went really smoothly.”

Vanilla’s Success Team really lived up to Smartsheet’s expectations: “…the launch itself went really, really well, our CSM was fantastic… she engaged with us and within our platform as well.”

Smartsheet saw the benefits of a vendor who offers excellent support. The CSM for Smartsheet reviewed each element of the launch with Gwyneth, and even helped her catch issues she may have missed.

“Our experience with the CSM team has been phenomenal.”

The Outcomes: Hard Work Pays Off

Smartsheet had outgrown its in-house solution and the platform no longer served their needs. Moving to a vendor that is affordable and supportive made a huge difference in the results they see from their efforts and their community.

The moderation tools on the Vanilla platform enable moderators to ensure content is not only of good quality, but is targeted. It allows content to be split or merged, and it has led to more productive conversations and higher engagement. A function they’re especially pleased to offer to their members is the option to indicate that an answer solved their problem or question. Their new average response time? Just twelve hours.

Each of these functions has contributed to better metrics; one of the success metrics Smartsheet measures is moderator versus member answers and they are now averaging around 20% moderator vs 80% member – a hugely successful feat.

The member engagement Smartsheet is seeing has been spurred on by other features such as gamification. Their power user and early adopter program have helped expand membership to reach a milestone of over 10,000 members.

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As part of the package, migration was of great value compared to what competitors had offered—and it went really smoothly.

The Team

at Smartsheet

Smarsheet's Community Wish List

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Cost Effective

“Frankly, you’re (Higher LgoicVanilla) really good value . . . and I needed to offset support costs."

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Excellent Support

“We wanted stronger support . . . our experience with the (Higher Logic Vanilla) CSM team was phenomenal."

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“It was important for our marketing team to expand our platform and customize it."

Reflecting on the Smartsheet Journey

Smartsheet is the perfect example of how hard work along with the right strategy can really pay off. By identifying the need for a more robust platform Smartsheet found a great partner in Vanilla. Offering Smartsheet everything on their checklist and then some, and ensuring that pricing was affordable, Vanilla became the perfect platform for the Smartsheet community to advance and expand. If you want to improve or get started with your community, find out if Vanilla is the right partner for you.

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