Acer is one of the largest PC makers in the world, whose products include desktop PCs, laptop PCs, tablets, servers, storage devices, displays, peripherals and more. One of Acer’s top product lines is their gaming PCs and accessories, which it markets under the Predator sub brand.
“The ROI for community went from 100% to 500%…I’m experiencing data that’s almost too good to be true”
-Senior Program Manager, Global Digital Services, Brad Bliven
The Challenges: When Top Dollar Produces Satisfactory Results
Acer launched its first support community in 2012 with a provider that Brad Bilven, the Senior Program Manager at Acer, had been in discussions with for years while at his previous job. When Brad joined Acer and the implementation for a community was approved, “it just made sense to bring [that provider] in.”
After its launch, the Acer community seemed to be doing fine with a community provider who was thought to cover everything; afterall, Acer was paying “outrageous prices” for their platform – weren’t they getting the very best the industry had to offer?
Well, in comparison to having no community at all, they were certainly seeing results.
The Acer community goal is to ensure that visitors are able to gain meaningful solutions at low effort, so any reduction in support tickets was seen as a success. However, for the price they were paying, Brad was shocked to learn that some of the features he wanted to implement weren’t included in that price.
As a result of being charged additional fees for what Acer considered basic features, Acer chose to simply forgo some of these features and do it themselves – Brad opted for a DIY approach to secure his community vision. As he puts it, “we dropped their ideation and built our own forum-based idea platform because I was paying additional cash for ideation on top of everything else.”
The amount of work that the Acer team had to do on their own when paying such high costs was realized when it was discovered that the community was the most expensive line item in their marketing budget.
Brad’s boss wanted him to look into other options that could offer a similar experience, but was more affordable. Brad, however, was already a step ahead and was getting quotes from other providers.
The Search: A No Brainer
Brad connected with the team at Vanilla and found that not only was Vanilla able to match all of his needs, but Vanilla was also able to offer this at an incredibly affordable price. Moreover, the features that he previously had to pay extra for were available with Vanilla out of the box – there were no extra fees.
The decision to sign with Vanilla came as a no-brainer for Brad.
Price was the primary concern for Acer and they were skeptical of getting an equal or better community platform from another provider at a lower cost.
Suffice it to say, when Brad found Vanilla, he was astonished. As he puts it, when he told his boss the new price for their community, the first question she asked was “well, is it going to do the same thing that the other one did at that price?”
The answer, of course, was yes.
Acer, however, would soon find out that Vanilla would deliver even more than their previous provider.
The Migration: A (not so much of a) Risk They Wanted to Take
For anyone who has considered making a switch, the migration is always a concern – especially when your community is as huge as Acer. Brad and his team however were willing to take this risk in hopes for a better outcome for both their members and their company.
As it turned out, the migration wasn’t a risk at all.
As Brad explains, “the migration went relatively well. There were some hiccups, but it was one of the smoother software migrations I have been a part of.” Brad attributes the ease of the community migration to the expert team at Vanilla. “It’s very much a testimony to the [team at Vanilla] that we had very minimal impact on the customer base, the user base and the superfans.”
The Outcomes: When a Better Price Also Leads to Better Results
The results of the Vanilla switch provided Acer with increased numbers in all categories. As Brad puts it, “after we switched to Vanilla, we started to see more replies and more topics solved.” In addition, Brad continues, “the SEO that you guys deliver is [at the level] where the community results are all above the official Acer documents.”
“Acer switched providers, and we reduced our costs; we increased our return on investment and we impacted nobody in our community by the change.”
The improvement in numbers coupled with the massive cost savings led Acer to see results that were unprecedented. Brad explains, “my ROI went out through the roof when we made the switch…we are very pleased by the results.”
The community has had a huge impact for Acer, as their surveys indicate that nearly 40% of visitors find a meaningful answer during their visit.
With numbers that are better than ever, Acer looks to expand their community support programs through leveraging the existing out of the box Vanilla gamification feature.