How Garmin's community manager embraces the chaos

Rehone Gozly

November 22, 20237 min read

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When Joshua Kennedy first set foot at Garmin in 2007, little did he know that his path would unfold into a pioneering role as the company's first and only community manager. Raised in a small town in rural Missouri, “JPK,” as he’s known, joined Garmin as a product support specialist after a brief stint in mental healthcare. His career at the multinational tech company showcases his ability to embrace challenges and navigate chaos with a sense of humor. Since taking on the community manager role in 2014, JPK has transformed what was a three-account social media moderation task into a role overseeing 28 social accounts across four major platforms. It’s been his job to craft — from scratch — the company’s social care policies, including processes, KPIs and productivity metrics. He says he enjoys both the freedom and the challenge of designing a space that makes the most sense for his team and for Garmin.

We chatted with JPK about his role at Garmin, his Sprinklr platform prowess, and his passion for embracing chaos.

Table of Contents

Tell us about yourself.

I live in a suburb of Kansas City (on the Kansas side). I grew up in rural Missouri in the middle of nowhere and took my leave at the earliest opportunity. The arts have always been a huge part of my life. I spent most of my early years as a hobbyist singer-songwriter and even recorded and self-published a couple of albums on Spotify.

These days, I’m focused more on writing and spend most days after work at a local coffee shop, sipping matcha and working on my latest sci-fi or horror novel.

I am also an avid traveler who is unafraid of traveling alone. I have the absolute worst luck and rarely go anywhere without everything going haywire at least once. That has helped forge an attitude of what I jokingly call, “Embraos,” or “embracing the chaos.” I’ve been to South Korea, Ireland, Germany, Portugal and France. Among my bad luck, I’ve had a missed flight (thanks to a car service that never picked me up), food poisoning (much to the crew’s dismay, I was face-in-toilet while we landed in Dublin), hurricanes (best laid plans . . .), a missed layover that left me stranded in Salt Lake City overnight and, most recently, the realization that I had zero cell phone coverage in the whole state of Alaska. But I’ve loved every trip I’ve been on, and in spite of the chaos, things always work out in the end.

What’s the biggest challenge your team is working on?

The biggest challenge for Garmin social care has always been how large our global customer base is and how quickly we can go from handling the current workload to having a severe backlog. My team currently moderates 28 accounts, but that doesn’t include all of the accounts our international offices manage. Our customers also often “double dip” across accounts and even across support paths (e.g., DM’ing on Facebook while on hold with an agent on the phone). This adds to what is already an enormous volume and complexity of cases. So things can feel a bit precarious. A single person taking PTO, a product announcement or giveaway, a service outage — it’s impossible to predict whether these things will be a small shudder or an earth-rending quake.

Describe your Sprinklr journey.

Garmin joined the Sprinklr family in 2017 during a rough transition away from our previous vendor (they-who- shall-not-be-named). Right out of the gate, Sprinklr gave us so much of what our previous vendor lacked, particularly from a reporting standpoint.

With our old vendor, we had to make requests for modifications to a pre-set reporting portal and wait weeks for those changes to be implemented. With Sprinklr, I have the power to make whatever reports I want whenever I want them.

As Garmin’s social accounts grew, our standard-fare message-based workflow wasn’t cutting it. When Sprinklr announced Care Cloud with case management, we jumped on as early adopters. I flew to NYC to get my Sprinklr certification and discovered that case management was so new that they barely covered it in that course. Ha!

I’m not one to rest on my laurels, so things are always shifting and adjusting. Whether it’s building an entirely separate workflow for Instagram, refining our tagging and reporting process for emerging concerns, or simply adding a new custom field the teams requested, I love that Sprinklr changes as often as we need and want it to.

How do you and your team use the Sprinklr platform?

We use Sprinklr for customer care and community management across social channels. Essentially, messages come in, and our Inbound Rules either create new cases for them or associate the new messages to existing cases. We look at whether the customer profile and/or the parent message is already associated to a case. If so, we look at how old that case is and create a new case if the existing one has gone too long without activity. In this way, we’re less likely to have new, unrelated inquiries building on top of an existing case, which saves tons of review time in the long run.

One of the most impactful changes we’ve made with Sprinklr is related to Instagram, which we isolate into its own workflow. We convert our own posts into cases, so that all customer comments get associated to that single case rather than converted into individual cases of their own. This greatly tamps down the volume of Instagram cases. For ongoing or emerging concerns, we use a combination of message-level and case-level macros to tag individual messages (and their corresponding profiles) with a custom field. Key stakeholders have access to a reporting dashboard that highlights current challenging topics, but also contains an archive of past topics.

This has been vital for sharing impact with the relevant teams. It also helps paint a truer picture of a public conversation’s impact by showing not only the total number of messages we’ve identified as being related, but also breaking down the number of unique profiles those messages came from. Sometimes it is close to a one-to-one ratio. Other times, you can see that a small but vocal group is responsible for the bulk of the conversation.

Thanks to Sprinklr’s nuanced back-end, I have also been able to build user groups that give my more senior associates select “admin” rights. This allows me to delegate important Sprinklr-related tasks (e.g., creating, cloning, or updating macros, creating and sharing columns and dashboards, updating custom fields, etc.) while also ensuring they don’t have access to areas I don’t want them dabbling in.

What’s your Sprinklr Pro-tip?

My pro-tip to new and veteran users is this: Don’t be afraid of workarounds. Sprinklr’s extreme customizability works to everyone’s advantage when you come up against API or Sprinklr UI limitations. That robust back-end means you can explore and test the limits of the platform. Another pro-tip that works in tandem with this one: Don’t be afraid of changing your goal. If leadership is asking you for X data, but you can’t produce that, is there an alternative that would suit them just as well? Or could you produce X by finding Y and Z? Rarely have I found that a problem has only one solution and only one path to that solution. Explore, flex, challenge, and be fearless.

What's next on your personal bucket list?

I just went on a trip to Alaska and have so many other locations I want to hit. I believe my next journey will either take me to Iceland or back to Ireland, where I hope to live permanently someday.

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