Quicken has existed for over 30 years, however most of its existence has been under the Intuit Inc., umbrella. In 2016, Intuit made the decision to make Quicken Inc., its own company, offering an array of personal financial management software to its customers. The product is designed to help people live healthy financial lives, ranging anywhere from business and taxes to analyzing their stock portfolio.
The Challenges: Thank You, Next
While Quicken, Inc. has only operated as an independent company for the past three years, their community goes way back. In fact, Quicken had worked with several community platforms—four, to be exact—before finally finding Vanilla. For 13-year Community Manager veteran Kathryn Bergeron, it felt like nothing was ever exactly what they needed. Every community platform they’d ever hosted had come with a different set of limitations. Their current vendor was no different; it wasn’t evolving to keep up with their needs, and Kathryn knew that it was time to look for a more suitable platform.
“[Vendor name] started to deteriorate as a platform because they hadn’t done any updates to it in a very long time. The platform revamp kept getting pushed back. And in the meantime, our community was just starting to be inundated with spam—their spam protection didn’t work at all and they had no solution for our problems,” says Kathryn.
Ultimately, Quicken was at a point where even after trying out four vendors over 11 years, they hadn’t found the one. But community platforms are like relationships—with every experience, you learn a little bit more about what you really want.
They found that they wanted a vendor support team that responds quickly and with helpful information, without having to ask repeatedly for answers.
They found that they needed an effective and strong spam filter to protect the members of their community.
And they also found that they need a flexible permission system that allows for customizations at any given moment by the Quicken team. They needed a community platform that knew how to do community right.
As Kathryn puts it, “it was like [the previous vendor] designed [the community] without understanding what a community was for. I knew it wouldn’t work for us. I needed to look for something else.” Ultimately, Kathryn needed to find a better solution to support the community that handled almost 50% of Quicken’s self-help traffic.
With their knowledge of what they wanted and what they didn’t want, Kathryn crafted a long list of absolute musts. With this, Kathryn and Quicken was ready to say ‘thank you, next’ to their existing vendor.
The Search: When Peer Reviews Lead The Way
Kathryn started her search by taking a look at a variety of other community forums out there, and examined their functionality, design and layout. Subsequently, every forum that caught her eye as a seasoned community professional turned out to be a Vanilla forum. Right off the bat, she could tell that each of these communities were highly customized and uniquely catered to the member profile of each community.
With her checklist in hand, Kathryn started to look into what Vanilla’s platform offered. “When I started looking at the reviews, I found that Vanilla had everything that we needed and it wasn’t ridiculously overpriced.” She continued, “a lot of platforms out there charge a bunch of money for things that you don’t even need. That’s why Vanilla was so appealing; you could choose exactly what you need and then customize it to suit your brand.”
At the end of the day, Vanilla hit every checkbox on Kathryn’s list, including the biggest one: effective spam prevention.
After comparing forum reviews and browsing a number of Vanilla forums herself (with screenshots of her favourites pinned to her new community mood board) Kathryn was ready to make the Vanilla switch.
The Migration: Straightforward on the Vanilla Side
Quicken was no stranger to migrating databases to a new community platform; they’d done it before multiple times. What Quicken was a stranger to, however, was having the process be relatively straightforward. Kathryn, having been through the process before, expected there to be “a few hiccups along the way,” however the source of the hiccups was unexpected.
“We could have had a smoother migration because getting the data and information from [our previous vendor] was difficult—they didn’t make it easy for us to leave,” Kathryn noted, “but once we got the data to Vanilla, it was very straightforward.”
Kathryn really had nothing to worry about. The team at Vanilla had migrated hundreds of large databases before, and the Quicken database full of years of institutional and community knowledge was no exception.
The Results: The 5th Time’s The Charm
In addition to finally having everything on their checklist, Quicken took advantage of a number of Vanilla features that they didn’t have access to before they made the switch, including the advanced search function. In a community that has a lot of different types of content, providing members with the ability to quickly search what they’re looking for has immense value, and Kathryn found that this function alone had a huge impact.
As Kathryn stated, “we saw a huge jump in the ‘helpful’ rating. Now we’re consistently seeing a helpful rating in the 80-90% range, whereas before it was in the 30-40% range. It’s a remarkable jump, and it’s because people can actually find things now.”
Gamification is another new community feature that Quicken has started to use for the first time. “Thanks to the automated ranking feature, we are seeing more traction in the community,” noted Kathryn, “it’s a lot easier for users to enter the community and encourages them to stick around a little bit longer.” As a result, the Quicken community has seen an increase in engagement and member participation.
Additionally, Quicken has started to use community gamification to help identify potential SuperUsers. The ability for members to be rewarded points for best answers and climb the ranks allows Kathryn and the community team to keep an eye out for those who have potential to become a community leader. This was a nice change for Kathryn, as in the past, SuperUser identification would have to be done manually, on an ad hoc basis.
Moreover, with the Vanilla permissions, SuperUsers can now be granted special editing permissions that they didn’t have access to before. “The ability to give editing tools to SuperUsers, or anyone, was really an all or nothing proposition with our previous platform,” said Kathryn, “so in order to give SuperUsers any editing ability, I would have had to give them full access to the entire community, which included other users email addresses. So it was really not possible. Now that we’re with Vanilla, we can finally do this, and it’s a big bonus!”
Kathryn notes that another bonus is easy management of user suggestions with the Ideas feature. “We can easily capture and filter user suggestions and pass these to our product team, so they can prioritize what they develop for our users,” says Kathryn. “We can then close the loop and let users know that their contribution helped us to improve the product.”
Ultimately, after four different community platforms, three migrations and a ton of spam, Quicken was finally where they wanted to be—with Vanilla.