Customers for Life: Meet the Zenoss TechZen User Community [Case Study]

Corporations, Community Strategy, Retention, Customer Stories // Zenoss has facilitated a user community for over 10 years, becoming the de facto online gathering place for IT Ops customers.

Caitlin Struhs
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Today’s preferred customer experience combines support, community, and outreach into one unified platform.

Zenoss has facilitated a user community for over 10 years, becoming the de facto online gathering place for IT Ops customers. Recently, Zenoss enhanced customer experience by revamping its online community – name, brand, and all.

The company prioritized five initiatives:

  • Migrating all existing community discussions and user profiles
  • An open API for its CRM integration
  • Support and other existing solutions
  • User experience and interface
  • Dynamic public and private customer community forums

With these goals in mind, Zenoss relaunched the user community with Higher Logic’s community platform. The new community platform introduced innovative collaboration capabilities, enhanced overall user experience, and provided scalability to support the rapid membership growth.

“Since launching our TechZen User Community on the Higher Logic platform, we’ve seen dramatic membership growth and increased engagement. New capabilities coupled with engagement strategies have helped us gain greater insight into the needs of our customers and the community.” – John Boyle, Technology Alliances & Community, Zenoss

Zenoss debuted its new community in April 2017 at its annual conference, GalaxZ, complete with an updated brand and a new crowdsourced community name, courtesy of its Austin roots: TechZen.

The community started with four product forums: two private forums for the advisory board and beta program, one for platform questions and feedback, and one general forum.

We caught up with John Boyle, in charge of technology alliances and community at Zenoss, to learn more about the TechZen launch and how community engagement has grown since the re-launch.

Community Q&A: John Boyle and Zenoss’ TechZen Community

Higher Logic (HL): Congratulations on one year (and counting) with the TechZen Community on Higher Logic! Can you share some highlights?

John Boyle (JB): Thanks! We have some great engagement stats so far. For context, this is the first time we can benchmark interactions and track real community engagement. Our previous system didn’t offer that. If you allow me to brag a little, here’s what TechZen has seen over the last year:

  • Over 3,500 active members worldwide
  • 140% membership and engagement increase

In general, we’re seeing an increase in discussions and library items, with new discussion threads and replies increasing every quarter. Before, it was challenging to drive and track webinar registrations from the community. Now with automation rules, we can send our webinar invitations to the entire community, which immediately increased registrations by 5-10 percent. And that number is increasing!

HL: Why did Zenoss choose Higher Logic for its community relaunch in the first place?

JB: This new platform enables mass collaboration and crowdsourcing. User interactions are important to us – our core values include welcoming customers for life, winning with integrity, and a need for speed – this is how we approach customer service, new opportunities, everything. For us, this was a way for the management team and the whole company to communicate and help with organic interactions.

We also wanted to morph the user community from just conversations about open-source tools to a more collaborative environment where we could offer insight and get feedback from all of our users and partners. We remained true to our roots but opened the conversation to enterprise topics like Zenoss Cloud.

One of our primary requirements beyond features, functions, and price was having a partner who was committed to our success beyond the sale and initial implementation. Hands down, Higher Logic has exceeded our expectations in all areas. Our discussions with the Higher Logic team quickly revealed they were committed, and they have supported us every step of the way.

HL: How did the implementation go?

JB: The entire implementation process was smooth. We had a tight deadline compared to most – eight weeks. Higher Logic easily imported all old instances and existing data, and we didn’t lose a thing. This was a top priority for everyone at Zenoss and in our user community.

HL: Do you have a favorite feature?

JB: As a product person, it’s easy to pick apart a lot of different platforms. But all things considered equal, the best Higher Logic feature is your team. You’re responsive from the top down and back up again. There is a lot of opportunity for input, and you’re agile, like us.

“Using the Higher Logic platform for the TechZen Community gives users and customers a more dynamic way to engage with one another and the Zenoss team. Access to such a broad peer network is a key reason IT professionals choose Zenoss.” – Megan Lueders, Chief Marketing Officer, Zenoss

HL: What techniques do you use to drive engagement and participation in TechZen?

JB: I talked about this at the 2017 Super Forum and Gainsight Pulse 2018, but I like to focus on the “George Bailey Moments” (if you’re familiar with the holiday classic “It’s a Wonderful Life”), meaning what do you need versus what do you want? We constantly ask ourselves:

  • What do our users really need, and what will give them the maximum benefit?
  • How can we address those needs above and beyond expectations while also implementing other ways to continually improve member experience?

So far, TechZen has proved to be a valuable benefit and resource as a promotional platform, for things like GalaXZ (our annual user conference), webinars (our attendance has increased up to 10 percent with the help of automation rules), new content, and training opportunities.

HL: How does TechZen feed into your product management process?

JB: We couldn’t properly track user activities within our previous tools, so that’s been a big improvement. The platform’s privacy features enable our community members to select what they wish to share with different group segments, to participate in private beta product discussions, and even to join customer advisory forums.

For anyone doing agile development, especially SaaS solutions, this is a big deal! We are able to get timely and critical product input proactively from our customers, which reduces support calls to us after the product has gone to production. Customers can try new features and give usability feedback early in the process. Higher Logic enables us to engage customers proactively as part of the development process, which is huge!

HL: What’s in the future for TechZen? How are you pushing the envelope in customer success for the Zenoss user group?

JB: Our customers-for-life and community focus has always been a primary reason people work with Zenoss. Moving to a new platform was a big step forward, and this platform is so rich in capabilities that we have just scratched the surface. This upcoming year, we are exploring deeper integrations with Higher Logic into other key technologies already in use at Zenoss. And using a hosted SaaS solution means we can focus on what we do best versus taking up time and resources managing an in-house solution.

“The choice of our new community platform was key in enabling our users to innovate and overcome challenges by leveraging the collective intelligence of the group. With the level of complexity in modern IT environments, having immediate and unlimited access to this intelligence enhances the speed we serve our customers.” – Brian Wilson, Chief Customer Officer, Zenoss

Online community isn’t just a fancy tech tool to add to your stack – it’s an engagement platform with result-creating potential.

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Caitlin Struhs

Account Manager, Pulp + Wire

Caitlin is an Account Manager at Pulp + Wire. She builds, manages, and leads marketing and communications teams across B2B and B2C markets.

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