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    Automatic Labs
    Automatic Labs evolves support from
    transactions to relationships with
    an online community

About Automatic Labs

Automatic Labs is in the business of making drivers smarter, safer and more energy-efficient. The Automatic Link plugs into a car’s computer system, pulling data about the engine, driving habits and more. It then synchs with a driver’s smart phone, displaying relevant information and instructions. Automatic also adds gamification and behavior modification features to train drivers to avoid speeding, hard stops and fast starts, saving them up to 30% in fuel costs. When the company launched in March 2013, consumers were clamoring for the product. That demand continues with a quickly expanding user base and the availability of Automatic in major retail outlets including Amazon, the Apple Store and BestBuy.

The Business Case for Community

Automatic is breaking ground in a new consumer retail category. And because the product involves not just hardware and software but a car and cell phone, leadership knew that customers would need extra- responsive support. That’s why the company added a robust online community to the support mix—a place where end users could go for information on how to get set up and, from there, how to get the most from their product over time.

Automatic also wanted this community to demonstrate to prospects that this place for peer-to-peer interactions was an important part of the Automatic experience. “Potential buyers would see a large volume of people helping each other, sharing tips and solving problems,” said Amy Muller, Director of Community and Customer Success at Automatic. “Without an online community where everyone is gathered, there’s no way to deliver that,” Muller said.

The Community Effect

Redefining the role of support

When Muller came on board to build Automatic’s support function, she was given carte blanche to execute her vision of a modern support organization—and this vision centered on expanding the concept of supporting customers to making them truly successful with the Automatic product and service. “Today, support is all about relationship-building and engagement. It’s not a transactional business and it’s not a cost center,” explained Muller. “When done right, it’s a value-added service that leads to greater customer loyalty and advocacy as well as better products.”

Muller built a support infrastructure that includes general support, technical support, social media support and a support community. This community is not just featured on the company’s web site; it is a component of Automatic’s Facebook page and is integrated into Automatic’s product for greater contextual help.

End-to-end support with Zendesk integration

Helpdesk software provider Zendesk is central to Automatic’s support system. Automatic integrated its Get Satisfaction community with this ticketing platform to deliver a seamless customer experience. Community managers and support agents can convert community conversations into helpdesk tickets for internal escalation or one-on-one support. “By connecting our Get Satisfaction community with Zendesk, we’ve taken a one-to-one ticketing system and added peer-to-peer interactions,” said Muller. “It’s a great way to bring the ‘voice of the customer’ into the equation.” Pulling the two systems together also gives Automatic’s support team a more unified view of the customer. “Now we have a single and complete view of everything we know about a customer, which enhances our ability to analyze, make decisions and be of service,” she added.

Deflecting support tickets

Automatic’s community significantly reduces the number of daily Zendesk support tickets. “In September 2013, when we started shipping, we saw our highest monthly volume of support requests with more than 3,000 tickets,” she explained. “Since then, our customer base has grown six-fold, but we consistently hover around 2,000 tickets. Our community is handling a huge volume of questions before they ever become tickets, especially given that it is accessible via mobile devices.” And as customers serve themselves for easy-to-address issues, Muller’s team spends more time on higher order ones.

Creating smarter customers

Automatic’s community isn’t just about solving problems; it’s a tool for converting newbies into power users through ongoing education. “We want to develop smart customers who are getting as much value from the product as possible,” Muller said. Part of this education happens via the community’s growing knowledgebase of FAQs, which covers everything from initial set up and cell phone battery usage to sharing the device across two cars and firmware updates. Continuous learning is the goal: Muller’s team works closely with tech support to uncover new opportunities for more educational content.

Innovating with customers

The Get Satisfaction platform makes it easy to collect, funnel and take action on product feature requests and bugs. Customers submit a few dozen ideas every month, and then other customers vote or share their opinions. A few months back hundreds of customers showed support for customizing speed warning alerts beyond the 70 MPH standard setting. That feature has since been implemented. Ideas in active debate include using Automatic as a teen driver monitoring system and displaying real time data during a drive.

“We’re constantly amazed with the level of imagination customers bring to us,” said Muller. “Our product is so much better because of their input.” That’s why Muller meets with Automatic’s Chief Product Officer each month to review every idea that’s been submitted.

Community as a differentiator

Automatic’s online community is helping the company extend a truly differentiated support experience—one that leads to informed, engaged and loyal customers. At the same time, the community gives all employees—from the CEO to the newest hire—instant access to the voice of the customer. “Other support channels have walls around them, so the learning gathered there must be translated out to the rest of the company,” said Muller. “Only our community allows the entire company to have a view into our customers and the ability to connect directly with them as appropriate.”

Why Get Satisfaction?

Automatic has won praise from product reviewers for its ease-of-use and elegant design. CNBC went so far as to say that Automatic could do for driving what the iPod did for music and CNN named the company to its list of CNN 10 Inventions. Not surprisingly, that standard for elegant simplicity was a key criterion in selecting a community platform. “Our design is about simplicity and attention to detail. We want to surprise and delight customers at every turn. Get Satisfaction’s interface and usability mirrors this philosophy,” said Muller. “It’s such a refreshing alternative to the tired forum technology that’s out there.” And given the inherently mobile nature of Automatic’s product, Get Satisfaction’s ability to provide community across any device, operating system or screen size was vital.

About Get Satisfaction

Based in San Francisco, Get Satisfaction provides an online community platform connecting companies with customers to foster relationships that unlock new value for both sides. Companies of all sizes and industries—from Kellogg’s, P&G and Intuit to Sonos, HootSuite and SugarCRM—rely on Get Satisfaction to deliver online communities that modernize customer support, accelerate sales, differentiate their brand and inspire new innovations. Get Satisfaction’s community platform offers the fastest time to value for companies ready to embrace the way today’s customers want to engage.

“Today, support is all about relationship-building and engagement. It’s not a transactional business and it’s not a cost center. When done right, it’s a value-added service that leads to greater customer loyalty and advocacy as well as better products.”

Amy Muller

Amy Muller, Director of Community and Customer Success, Automatic Labs

Business Results

  • Better educated end users
  • Higher conversion of prospects
  • Differentiated customer support experience
  • Reduction of Zendesk support tickets
  • Constant stream of valuable new feature ideas
  • Daily access to customer sentiments

Community Vitals

  • 6,000+ community members
  • 10,000+ unique visitors every month
  • 40,000+ page views in July 2014 alone

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