Natalie L. Petouhoff, Ph.D. By Dr. Natalie Petouhoff

I had the privilege to speak to the call center director, JoAnne at when I first started my research on the affects of social media on customer service. I had asked some of the luminaries in social CRM, like Paul Greenberg, who I should talk to. He suggested I should speak to Helpstream. Bob Warfield, the CEO of connected me to JoAnne.

JoAnne was typical of many customer service professionals today. She had spent 20+ years working in contact centers, trying to make customers happy as possible. At the same time, she was frustrated at how ineffective many of the contact center technologies were in creating better customer experiences and relationships. She admitted, like many of us, that at first she was not sure how well social media could be applied to customer service. But she was also an innovator and decided to take a leap of faith. She told me she has never been sorry for taking the jump and that it was the best decision she has ever made!

InfusionSoft is a web-based provider of marketing automation software for companies with fewer than 25 employees. CRM, email marketing and e-commerce are combines into one automatic follow-up system, so that entrepreneurs and small businessses can convert more leads, get repeat sales and grow their business without growing their staff. As part of their mission to revolutionize the way small businesses operate, InfusionSoft guarantees to double the sales of any small businesss that implements their software. To deliver on that promise, JoAnne knew she would have to provide excellent customer service.

Typical of most software companies, user groups rallied around particular topics began requesting more interaction from support and suggesting new product features. These users were noticeably passionate about the product. To them it was not just marketing software. For InfusionSoft customers, the software was THE way for them to grow their business and provide for their families and support local community activities.

JoAnne decided to use Helpstream to provide software tips in a forum,but the community quickly evolved into a customer service portal.Through daily updates, users can check on the status of new product features, email deliver-ability and related concerns. As more and more customers joined the community, it was evident that the impact on traditional support channels improved customer experiences. In moments where the software was inaccessible, InfusionSoft was able to quickly respond and get a message to users on the status – reducing the need for technical support calls.

JoAnne told me, "Two years ago, we had approximately 1 customer service agent for every 55 customers and a 77% customer satisfaction rating. Today that ratio is 1 agent to 172 customers– and with a 87% customer sat rating. Customers love to contact us when it's convenient for them! And that's the power of social media. The answers are there for them 24/7. The net-net? InfusionSoft's social media initiative saved the company millions of dollars in overall support costs and produced a 10% increase in customer satisfaction."

For more details, here's the case study: InfusionSoft Improves Customer Experience Via Social Media.

This is part of a series of case studies on customer service and how to use social media to transform the customer experience, reduce costs and transform your business. It is based on the best practices doc: Best Practices: Five Strategies For Customer Service Social Media Excellence.

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Other documents in this series…The first part of each listing is the link is to the Forrester Case Study or document and the second part of each title has a link to the story on my blog– that way if you are not a Forrester client (yet 😉 ) you can see some of the results and start taking action!

Case Study 1: ACT! By Sage Uses Social Media To Transform The Customer Experience

Case Study 2: Lenovo Takes Ownership Of Social Media To Reduce Customer Service Costs

Best Practices in Social Media: Five Strategies Customer Service Professionals

The ROI of Social Media: How to Calculate the Return on Investment for Customer Service