Case Study

NetApp Switches to Lithium and Achieves Greater Customer Satisfaction

NetApp, a leader in enterprise storage and data management, is a pioneer in online communities. They launched an online community years ago to support their customers from all around the world. The original goal of their community was to have a digital experience that cultivates relationships, conversations, and expertise in the community.

In September 2014, they decided to take a bold step in order to stay true to that goal. They thought carefully about long-term community goals, analyzed the data, and realized they needed a new platform to support their marketing excellence strategy and customer-centric approach. NetApp migrated to a Lithium-powered community and transformed their entire digital customer experience for the better.

  • Goal

    Transform the NetApp community experience to enable customer success and drive preference and loyalty for NetApp

  • Solution

    Migrate to a Lithium-powered community to achieve greater ROI and increased customer engagement and satisfaction

“Our Lithium-powered community has continued to grow and to exceed all baseline metrics, including its newest key engagement metric, the number of kudos, which is a strong indicator of the customer’s overall satisfaction with content.”

— Terri Peluso, NetApp Community Program Manager

Tell us why you chose to relaunch the NetApp Community.

Our previous community platform and infrastructure did not meet our true goal of being customer focused. Prior to the relaunch, our community was plagued with technical issues. We were unable to focus on connecting with customers because they were inundated with cumbersome upgrades and spam. In fact, spam was so pervasive on the platform that NetApp employed a separate vendor to manage the problem. Plus, we did not have the controls required to govern for a robust and healthy community, so we knew we needed a massive overhaul.

Why did you select Lithium to power your community?

After a rigorous RFP process, we selected Lithium’s SaaS platform because it gave us the flexibility to make extensive customizations. Another benefit to choosing Lithium are the seamless bi-monthly technical upgrades, which is a huge improvement compared to before our move to Lithium. Lithium’s tools make it easy and simple to measure community performance and engagement. This real-time information has led to smarter decision-making based on hard data. The data has also helped us prove the value of our community investment.

Tell us about the new Community.

We’re so excited to have a new look, new platform and a simplified structure. We’ve made several upgrades to the platform including site search, improved social sharing and browser support and have created a better mobile experience.

We now have a streamlined number of discussion boards to focus on three areas: Products and Solutions, Developer Network, and NetApp University & Training. We’ve consolidated and simplified our community structure to make it easier to navigate. Using Lithium gives us a competitive advantage by allowing customers to provide peer-to-peer support, share best practices, and connect with other NetApp influencers. We used this ‘fresh start’ to button up our governance, redefine user guidelines and moderation models (we now have ‘topic owners’ who are notified when new discussions are posted).

We also reinvented our corporate blog with the vision of humanizing the brand by connecting employees, prospects, customers, and partners with the company and with each other. To do this, our social media team audited and consolidated 1000+ preexisting blog posts into a single blog section built upon five categories: Company, Technology, Industries, Partners, and International. In 2016, we plan to continue to improve our blogging experience by consolidating our five categories into a single section and adopting a company-wide blogging policy to ensure we are able to deliver clear and concrete messages.

What’s the framework for the community and how do you measure success?

Our community framework is based on member satisfaction balanced with business objectives. For measuring success, we have a new custom index metric, which calculates different behaviors such as posts, kudos, replies, etc., into a weighted index to track engagement and satisfaction of the community. We’ve also committed to doing an annual CSAT Survey which informs and validates our community roadmap from both a technical and program perspective. While there are always improvements to make, our member feedback has been positive.

Why is community important to NetApp?

Our community sets us apart from the competition. It gives us operational efficiencies (e.g. easier self-serve customer support) and it takes our customer experience to the next level—our customers have a direct way to connect with NetApp subject matter experts, and prospects have a place to go to see what makes NetApp special.

What’s in store for the future of the NetApp community?

Everything from improving and connecting member nurture programs to new organizational partnerships and key customizations. We now have the foundation to prove that this great community experience is actually great marketing. We’re also looking to expand our content (i.e. podcasts), member recognition programs as well as implement new platform features and customizations. Everything has to be customer-centric within an excellent user experience.