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Mobility as a Service: Why Automakers Need to Take the Plunge

man driving car has much bigger expectations for auto brands like being mobility providers

[Estimated read time: 5 minutes]

Question: What keeps automakers up at night?

If your answer doesn't include "Millennials aren't buying cars like the generations before them," it should.

The much-maligned generation has been blamed for killing all kinds of industries, from diamonds to fabric softener to department stores. However, each generation brings with it new tastes and preferences -- and companies must adjust accordingly.

For automakers, the Millennial generation poses an interesting quandary: In recent years, the number of cars purchased by people aged 18 to 34 fell almost 30%, and the percentage of Millennials without cars continues to grow.

This generation of consumers -- like those before them -- still expects great cars. But they are looking for more. In order to succeed, automakers must evolve from car companies to mobility providers.

Shifting priorities demand a new strategy

Consumers' core expectations for vehicles have remained largely unchanged for many years. They expect new cars to have:

  • Safety
  • Reliability
  • Fuel efficiency
  • Luxury
  • Power
  • Informed dealers

Auto manufacturers continue to deliver against these expectations increasingly well, with better gas mileage and more sophisticated technology and features becoming standard in even basic models.

infographic about changing consumer expectations for auto brands

In addition to these core expectations, today's consumers (especially younger ones) expect a lot more from automakers:

  • Driver assistance
  • Tailored support
  • Proactive maintenance
  • In-vehicle diagnostics
  • Connectivity
  • Car sharing
  • Parking locator

To meet these expectations, auto manufacturers are being challenged to deliver more than cars -- they must deliver an end-to-end service experience that encompasses everything that comes along with traveling from point A to point B.

Transitioning to "Mobility as a Service"

In addition to shifting expectations for what auto brands should provide, market disruptors have set a course for a move away from car ownership. We've already seen that Millennials are not buying cars in the same quantity as Baby Boomers or Gen Xers -- but they still need to get where they need to go, right?

That's where "Mobility as a Service" comes in. Instead of owning a car (an investment that sits idle in a garage or parking lot for most of its life), some consumers are opting to pay for mobility when they need it. As proof, consider that one out of 10 cars sold in 2030 will likely be a shared vehicle, and as soon as 2050 that number could grow to one out of three.

Ride-sharing services like Uber or Lyft are perfect examples, but the usefulness of shared vehicles goes far beyond today's conventions. Imagine being able to access different vehicles for different needs -- a compact for the daily work commute, a crossover SUV for a family road trip, a truck to bring home new furniture you purchased, and so on.

Leading automakers are taking a variety of steps to evolve into mobility providers, including:

  • Allowing mobile app users to find and reserve a parking spot
  • Scheduling individualized mixed-mode travel itineraries that include ride-sharing and public transportation via mobile app
  • Developing partnerships with car-sharing services to help vehicle owners lease out their cars when not in use
  • Supporting all aspects of owning a car, providing owners with answers when and where they need them (in-vehicle, mobile messaging, etc.)

How to get started

As your brand expands its role into that of a service provider, you will find yourself dealing with a whole new set of customer journeys. New services require a support system. Customers will have the same high expectations for immediate, always-on support from any service you offer. If you'll be working with a partner organization (like a parking spot locator or ride-sharing service) to build your offerings, bear in mind that your customers will view services as an extension of your brand -- despite the integrations going on behind the scenes.

To deliver new services that meet customer expectations, you'll need the right technology to support them. A consistent, end-to-end mobility experience cannot happen without the following elements in place:

Context: No matter where the customer is in their journey (literally and figuratively!), context must follow them in order to provide consistency, speed, and personalization. Customers on-the-go need quick, effective interactions that don't require a lot of effort. Having all the context of the customer's make and model, previous communication, and preferences makes every support interaction faster and more intuitive, regardless of whether the customer self-serves or talks to an agent. This requires a single source of customer information, as well as smart escalation technology for when customers need additional help.

Information sources: The more components you knit together to provide the complete mobility experience your customers seek, the more systems are involved in the back end -- and the more variety of questions your customers will ask. Instead of authoring a comprehensive knowledgebase from scratch, look for a knowledge management tool that can gather and interpret information from multiple sources, including authored content, existing documentation (such as owner's manuals), customer databases, and API connections with third-party providers.

Conversational capabilities: With the advent of voice-based virtual assistants and the increasing sophistication of IVT, non-human support experiences must absolutely be able to help customers via natural-language conversations. You'll need a smart chatbot that can understand natural language from text and voice inputs, interpret what the customer needs, and help them find it.

Using these technologies, Astute Solutions helps automakers like Ford Motor prepare for the future of the industry. Connect with us to discuss what Astute can do for your brand.


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