The Automotive Marketplace is Changing: Using New App-level Insights to Drive the Mobility Customer Experience

Blog Post by Don Ryan

Various consulting firms and industry analysts have predicted that the percent of driving-age individuals owning a vehicle will decline in the not-too-distant future. This is a result mostly of societal changes reflected in what is colorfully called “the sharing economy.” One such estimate by the Boston Consulting Group is that in five years 35 million people globally will be using car-sharing services up from roughly 6 million currently. Urban millennials are the most frequently cited users.

This accelerating shift has made automotive manufacturers sit up and take notice. And has them looking for new and creative ways to maintain a dialogue with consumers who are less interested in owning a vehicle than in the broader concept of “mobility.” What these consumers are saying is I’m not interested in owning a vehicle, just help me get to where I want to go, in the way I want to go.

In response, the major OEMs have already made large scale investments in ride-sharing services like Uber and Lyft, have partnered with companies specializing in autonomous vehicles (including behemoth Google), purchased companies with assorted enabling-technologies, and launched trial programs where consumers can rent a vehicle directly from the OEM.

In fact, it seems barely a day goes by where there isn’t some news about these trends, or about connected cars, or a Jetsons-styled transportation future. By any measure, it is an exciting time to be in the automotive industry.

Of course, one outcome that is already evident is that in the course of these new interactions with consumers, lots and lots of data will be used to facilitate these activities and record what is happening when they transpire.

As consumers download and start using mobility apps, they reveal much about their needs and preferences, display loyalty through their persistency, identify problems by means of their customer care inquiries, and signal their satisfaction via pop-up surveys, ratings, and other feedback. To analysts and strategists, this is a treasure trove of data. And it is easily captured by the app and by apps within the app. Of course, the key will be in turning this digital fodder into useful information that can continuously improve the consumer experience and lower interaction costs.

While there are myriad questions that mobility providers can pose, they can be summarized under the following high-level queries:

  • Who is using the app and how is it being used?
  • How do users feel about their experiences?
  • Given what is learned from the first two questions, how can the mobility experience be improved?

As for any app that is introduced, consumer downloads of a mobility app only tell the first part of the story. Certainly, OEMs will want their app to be popular with consumers and for users to give it good ratings and social media props. This is how apps become widely used. However, consumers must see value in the app to be compelled to use it frequently. This is the foundation of its success.

Which brings us back to that treasure trove of data.

To optimize the mobility experiences of consumers, OEMs need do the following from an analytics perspective:

  1. Create new data repositories that integrate all the customer-level data captured by their mobility app at the user-level
  2. Define and monitor the key performance metrics that decision makers need to continuously refine the mobility experience
  3. Use analytics to hunt for key insights about customer behavior, as well as predict and prescribe actions integral to customer engagement
  4. Apply customer insights in a communication engine to guide mobility customers through their journeys and enable timely, trigger-driven messaging and offers
  5. Track the types and frequency of customer support required by users and use this data to improve self-help mechanisms and live agent interactions
  6. Mine voice of the customer feedback via surveys, chat sessions, and calls to determine the attitudinal and psychographic factors associated with app usage and leverage these insights to reduce friction in the user experience and increase satisfaction and advocacy
  7. Construct a model of customer flows, activities, and spending to understand the financial impacts associated with the product and conduct scenario analysis of the key performance indicators
  8. Repeatedly re-examine whether and how the mobility service is meeting its business objectives

The emerging mobility customer expects relevant and tailored experiences as a price for his or her loyalty. To meet these demands, OEMs need to be information-savvy and know how to apply data and insights throughout their customers’ journeys. Ultimately, whether the customer is interested in purchasing a vehicle or simply getting from Point A to Point B, a slick-looking app is not enough; intelligence powering the user experience is a necessity.

For more information, read my recent Customer Strategist article, “Automakers Redefine Mobility in an App-based World.” Or, contact me directly via email

 

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