Collaboration

How Carvana and Slack remove the roadblocks in car buying

Online auto retailer Carvana uses Slack to help its customers buy, sell and trade cars in as little as 10 minutes

Author: Lauren JohnsonNovember 1st, 2019

Carvana, an online platform for buying, selling and financing used cars, is introducing innovation and an edge of glamour to that marketplace. The company’s showrooms are located wherever its customers are, from their living rooms to mobile devices.

Since Carvana was founded in 2012, the Phoenix-based company has grown fast. With a workforce now around 4,000 strong, Carvana serves customers in more than 130 markets across the country. At this scale, running a direct-delivery auto retailer requires an ace customer support team and a platform that’s secure, intuitive, and enjoyable to use.

Here’s how Carvana’s customer care and engineering teams use Slack to drive home a seamless car-buying experience, while having fun on the job.

How Slack fuels Carvana’s customer support

Carvana’s website is a one-stop car buying and selling shop, boasting virtual tours of more than 15,000 vehicles. Since you can’t really ship a car via UPS, Carvana inspects its inventory and routes purchases through its own logistics network. By offering auto-loan financing, the company eliminates the need for traditional dealerships and sales teams, making it possible to buy or sell a car within minutes.

If a customer hits a roadblock on Carvana’s site, there are hundreds of customer care team members ready to provide support. Imran Kazi, the senior director of technology services, explains how the customer care team communicates via Slack while helping customers, greatly minimizing the customer’s hold time.

“The customer advocates are pinging back and forth while the customer’s on the phone, so they get real-time answers immediately without telling the customer, ‘Hey, wait, I’m going to forward you to the title and registration team,’ ” Kazi says. “On Slack, [the customer advocate] will ping the title registration team, get the information, and tell the customer right away.”

“If there is any systems issue, you get proactively notified on our Slack channel, and we immediately have the right teams look into the issue to avoid any outage.”

Imran KaziSenior director of technology service, Carvana

After a purchase or sale, Carvana’s customer care fleet delivers or picks up the car wherever the customer is. Customers can also opt for pickup at one of Carvana’s sleek Car Vending Machines (more on those soon). Erin Frizzell, Carvana’s associate director of training and quality assurance, describes how Carvana’s customer advocates recently used Slack to help a customer save valuable time and gas money when she went to pick up her new car.

The customer lived outside Carvana’s delivery radius, so she selected a town halfway between her home and the nearest Carvana market to meet the delivery team. As it turned out, the customer lived two hours away from that town.

“She was very adamant about this town,” Frizzell says. “So the advocate looked up the customer notes and found the first advocate this customer had spoken with. She sent him a message on Slack and asked if the customer had family there. The first customer advocate said, ‘No, she came up with it on her own.’ ”

The customer advocate used this information to coordinate a closer meeting point, which saved the customer four hours of travel time. “She never had to put the customer on hold for this,” Frizzell says. “This all happened [over Slack].”

Automated functions on Slack provide vital platform team support

Carvana’s engineering teams are constantly building and running updates, sometimes several times a day. With Slack, the DevOps team is able to automate pushing updates from staging to production.

To keep the platform running smoothly, the engineering teams have also integrated monitoring tools within their Slack channels. These features alert engineers to potential issues before they become problems.

“If there is any systems issue, you get proactively notified on our Slack channel, and we immediately have the right teams look into the issue to avoid any outage,” Kazi says.

Carvana keeps customer data secure with Slack’s Enterprise Grid

For many people, a car is one of the biggest purchases they’ll ever make, so customers expect a platform that reduces stress and keeps their personal and financial data secure. That’s why Carvana uses Slack’s Enterprise Grid. With its data encryption features, Grid meets security compliance standards for highly regulated industries like health and finance.

Slack contributes to Carvana’s culture of delight

In addition to making it easier to buy a car, Carvana just wants its customers to have more fun. Its collection of coin-operated, fully automated Car Vending Machines are part of that experience. In 18 cities across the country, Carvana displays customer purchases in glass towers bathed in showroom lights. If they’d like, customers can pick up their new rides at one of these vending machines.

Onsite, the customer drops a shiny Carvana coin into the snazzy machines. Then the gears turn and the vending machine hums to life, lowering the car from the tower and moving it into a bay, where its new owner can drive it home (having taken some photos and videos along the way).

While customers get a more enjoyable shopping experience, Carvana employees can have fun and connect with one another over the company’s social Slack channels. “I think what you see in our marketing is not just our marketing,” Frizzell says. “That’s just who we are, and those are the folks that we hire. We share funny memes and GIFs to inject each other’s days with surprise and delight. That reminds folks, we’re all in this together. That connectivity is really powerful.”

To that point, Frizzell adds that she came to work one Halloween dressed up as Ms. Frizzle from The Magic School Bus—an appropriate costume choice at a company that’s made car buying so easy, it looks a little like magic.

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