Driving the Future

The topic of customer experience within the automotive industry is nothing new but what is new, and changing on a daily basis, is the expectations from the customers. So how can innovative technologies be used to shape experiences and meet expectations before a customer has even stepped foot in a vehicle for the very first time!?
Daniel Garschagen, Lead for Applied Innovation Exchange at Capgemini, hosts a conversation with Ben Steinmetz, Product Experience Director, NIO and Thomas Zuchtriegel, Automotive Advisor, Journee. They discuss the product experience; what they’ve seen until now and what they expect to change. They talk about the internal relationship between sales and marketing within a company, and then they look to the future , the healthy relationship between digital and physical experiences, alongside GenAI and capabilities to scale.
If this conversation resonates with you, and you are heading to CES 2024, Capgemini together with Journee will host a talk on this topic. Head to capgemini.com/events for more information.

What is Driving the Future?

Driving the Future is a podcast about where the automotive industry is going, and how not only to keep up with the rapidly changing business, but to shape it.

Fueled by such factors as the climate crisis and the digital revolution, the automotive industry is changing. Whether we’re talking about autonomous cars and electric vehicles or the new customer experiences that digital technologies enable, whether it’s transforming from being an auto manufacturer into an organization that provides mobility services, the map of the industry is being re-drawn. Are you going to follow the path that others lay out, or grab the wheel and shape the future of mobility yourself? The promise of technology is big, but how do you get there?

Driving the Future is a podcast by Capgemini.

Driving the Future - Episode 4
Title: Unleashing Technology to Future-Proof CX
Speakers: Narrator, Daniel Garschagen, Benjamin Steinmetz & Thomas Zuchtriegel
[Music Playing]
Narrator: Welcome to Driving the Future by Capgemini, the podcast where we discuss the automotive industry, the direction it's heading, and how automakers cannot just keep up with a rapidly changing business, but to shape it.
The topic of customer experience in the automotive industry is nothing new. But what is new is the constantly changing expectations from customers.
In this episode, Daniel Garschagen hosts a discussion with two leading product experience experts at how innovative technologies can be used to shape the experience to meet these newfound expectations before a customer has even set foot in a vehicle for the first time.
Daniel: Why is customer experience still such an important topic, and then why is maybe not the ideal solution there yet?
Narrator: This is Daniel Garschagen, he's the host of this discussion and currently leading the Capgemini Applied Innovation Exchange in Munich. He's managing the startup ecosystem as part of Capgemini Ventures and is also responsible for sustainability in automotive within the German market.
Ben: First, I have to say, I don't like to talk about customer experience, I like to talk about user experience because a customer implies that it's kind of a one-time interaction. But with the user, you have a long-term relationship, it's an ongoing thing. So, that's why we always try to talk about user experience.
I think we're still talking about it because it's super hard to change an organisation to really think from a customer experience perspective or user experience perspective. It takes the mindset of the people that need to change, but it also needs the tools in the organisation to live up to that, to process feedback, et cetera.
And also, the KPIs of the company need to change to reflect this user centric customer experience, centric development and company behaviour overall.
Narrator: That's Ben Steinmetz. He's the Product Experience Director for Europe at NIO. Founded in 2014, NIO is building a community around its smart electric vehicles and shaping it based upon user experience. Joining Ben is Thomas.
Thomas: As the technology advances, it provides many more possibilities, and the user wants to have it more seamless, more personal, more intuitive, more immersive, in the end it's about value creation. It's about spending an amazing time doing something with it.
And I think the automotive companies, especially, constantly need to adapt to the rising customer expectations and therefore need to leverage technology to stay relevant and to deliver meaningful experiences.
Narrator: Thomas Zuchtriegel has worked in the automotive industry for 17 years with the last 11 being at Audi, specialising in innovative user experiences. This year, Thomas has joined Journee as an automotive advisor.
Daniel: You already mentioned the topic of technology in your answer, and we want to talk about it as well. Is this maybe the main difference now in, let's say in the year 2023, 2024 coming.
Looking at what happened in the last, let's say, 1, 2, 3 years in technology, we talk about gen AI, talk about immersive experiences. So, what's different now compared to maybe let's say five years ago or even three years ago, Thomas.
Thomas: More and more users are using it. It's more easy, it's more convenient, the databases, therefore the tools out there to use it to create experiences. And five years ago, it was not there, only on a couple of use cases and lighthouse projects.
But today everybody can use ChatGPT, everybody can download AI applications on an iPhone, it's pretty mature. You don't have the tracking issues anymore and talking about immersive worlds, you have avatar systems that provide the same level of experience.
What you have in very, very expensive computer games to limited consoles in the past. Today, it's available in the browser everywhere.
Daniel: Then what's your perspective on this coming from a company that is maybe even faster adopting to changes coming from China, being kind of born digital. Do you also see a change maybe even for a young company like NIO in the last years, how things are changing with regards to user expectations?
Ben: Definitely. I mean, digital technology today enables us to have constant interaction with the user without any geographical or time zone boundaries. And that's what we leverage very much.
And I am daily in touch with users in the NIO app community, same as our general managers down to the service people. We can see what they think, we can talk to them, et cetera.
So, this enables us really to be more user-centric from a digital enabler point of view. But we would never forget also about the physical touch points. That's still an important role in the end.
From the user perspective or the access to information to technology, et cetera, the consumer kind of becomes a prosumer because he can easily gain new information, he can make up his own mind, he can shape the product in his head because he has access to so many different informations he would like to see in a car he didn't have before.
So, that's why he gets a stronger opinion on what kind of product he actually wants and how this product should look from his perspective.
Narrator: At this point in the discussion, the conversation turns toward product experience. Technology certainly plays a role when meeting the expectations of customers, and more so when from a product and customer journey perspective.
Ben shares how NIO leverages its technology to improve the product experience.
Ben: Today's product competitiveness is a lot about constant improvement of the product. And software defined vehicles, as it's a big, discussed topic in the automotive industry today, is kind of the enabler to constantly improve and upgrade the product already when it's chipped to the customer.
That's, for example, our new technology, the second generation we have on the street right now.
Basically, a car has a very long lifespan. 5, 6, 8 years with one customer while a phone, your TV stays two, three years with you. And in the past, it was, you bought a car six months later, it was already outdated. There was a new car with better assistance systems, et cetera.
This needs to change because the customer always has the newest product, perhaps not in terms of hardware, but the software should be always upgraded. That's what he's used to from apps, from his phones, et cetera, et cetera.
So, this is how we leverage the hardware in the car and also the software capability of the car to always deliver a new experience to the user, basically on a monthly or quarterly basis with software updates.
Second point is also when we talk about voice technology with Nomi, our assistant in the car and AI technology, which enables us to process all the user feedback to analyse it, and also to speed up our development process to bring new experiences back to the user.
These are the two technologies as we very much leverage to improve our product and strive for the best user satisfaction we can get.
Daniel: It's great to understand that it's not just about what the user experiences, but also that you're leveraging the feedback coming from the user to even improve the product is very interesting to see.
Looking at Journee and your role in this, what I found fascinating was last year's CES appearance of BMW and the support that Journee provided with BMW Vision Dee, and not just the physical product, but also the digital appearance, then online you might call it in the metaverse.
So, how is Journee making sure that you are constantly providing the latest technologies for your customers, and how do you help them to achieve better customer and user experiences?
Thomas: I think it's all about meeting the current demands and anticipating the future needs, and BMW with the i Vision Dee they try to redefine the automotive experience that you don't have just a car to go from A to B, but an intelligent digital companion.
So, the car is an extension of the digital life and Journee offers a platform that enables enterprises and product experiences to create an enriching customer journey with lots of tools.
And we constantly invest deeply in tech. We do market research. We have a kick ass team to develop state-of-the-art technology. The feedback from the users, we see that we have enriched experiences, more time spent inside the virtual worlds, and we try to bridge a gap from the marketing to the sales.
The customer journey starts way before at the footsteps into the car. You need to have a tool to accompany the customer along the entire journey. That's what we do at Journee.
Daniel: What I loved about both, let's say, experiences that I have had with Journee and with NIO was that both surprised me. So, the first time I was able to experience Nomi, the voice assistant or voice AI from NIO really was something new, something really great.
Same with the first time I entered a digital solution from Journee to experience a Coldplay concert in an immersive environment. I never knew that it is possible to actually feel how a drum set is played in a digital way, that was really cool.
So, that's me, Daniel, a European person speaking about it, Ben is already smiling because he knows where this is heading. Is it one size fits all? Or would a 20-year-old man or female in China also be surprised by these technologies, or would that person say, “Well, that's cold coffee. I've seen that before already.”
So, how do you deal with this European versus other countries born in China, knowing that your design headquarters is in Munich, which is by the way, also very interesting.
Ben: NIO was designed from day one as a global company. From day one, we had the software development in San José, the chassis development in Oxford, and the design centre in Munich, which created these beautiful cars with the latest addition of the innovation software development centre in Berlin in ‘23.
Yes, for sure, there are differences in geographical perspective. The digital ecosystem in China is totally different from the digital ecosystem in Europe.
To the question one size fits all, definitely not, but it's not only about geography, it's also within the same age and income group, you can have different target users who live by different values, different lifestyles.
So, even with them, then you need different products, or you need slight adaptations of the same product to meet their demands. So, it's way more than just geographical differences. It's also the value system by which people live and how they define their life.
Daniel: I would totally agree to this, that it's not just about geographies. It's really that you need to answer the demands of each and every individual person.
Narrator: Perfect product experience is one thing, but customers want to have a best-in-class experience even before sitting in their vehicle for the first time. Thomas explains how Journee are creating experiences and also improving conversion from marketing to sales.
Thomas: This is a very important point, and I think it's key to steer the emerging business value. And this is designed in the platform Journee. So, it's not just about colourful grades from an artistic and technological point of view.
It's about delivering tangible value to really understand the customer needs to provide what the customer wants and is looking for at the moment that it's an unforgettable journey.
So, the customer interacts with the brand, the customer experiences the digital product in an unforeseen way, and this strengthens the bond towards the product and the brand.
And therefore, yeah, we bridge a gap. Have very, very high NPS and increased rate regarding the conversion in the sales funder. And for us, it's a sales tool. It's not just an easy marketing experience.
Daniel: Understood. I mean, in the industry for quite some years now, I have always found this particular point between marketing and sales so interesting but so hard to play.
And I believe even a bigger challenge for NIO, specifically maybe in the European market, coming from China as a brand, of course, we have seen it IAA mobility, a lot of Chinese brands entering the market, but still, not everyone is just running around saying, “Yeah, I'm going to buy a Chinese car.” There might still be some hurdles.
So, how do you address this? How do you A, create this brand awareness, but most importantly, what do you do in the end to convince a buyer, let's say in Berlin, Munich, or even maybe even a small village in Germany, to put aside the general factor of let's buy an electric car, but for your brand in particular?
Ben: That's a very good question, and it's definitely a challenge for us because also we believe very much in a community, in organic growth, which means that we don't do a lot of, let's say active marketing.
So, for sure, the first touchpoint of the user is perhaps our website, our app, where he can directly interact also with existing users which gives some impression how the product really is in the daily life of the users.
But then we also rely a lot on the NIO houses and the NIO spaces, which are more community spaces where our users can have a coffee or non-users where we offer yoga classes.
It's really this word of mouth, which we rely on to create brand awareness because we believe that this is more sustainable than any active marketing activities.
Daniel: This is quite interesting because you were mentioning both your houses and your apps as a physical world, digital world. Thomas, with your also let's say, past at Audi and your role, I believe how I understand it was also somehow in this connection of bringing, let's say objects into a digital world.
How do you now push this to maybe to a next level with Journee to, let's say, make it possible that someone really experiences something physical also in a digital world?
Because in the end, I mean, the old saying of omnichannel is also out there just as long as the term customer experience. Is it still valid? Is it still omnichannel or is it just one channel? So, how do you see this from your perspective?
Thomas: It's a very interesting point. From my point of view, it's still omnichannel and what Ben is describing reminds me of my past when I started at Audi and we created Audi City, a diverse first digital showroom, a place to go, just virtual cars. There are almost no physical ones.
You get a nice coffee. You bring like-minded people together. We talked about community building even at that point of time before the NFT hype and the Web3 community stuff. And then now you try to achieve the same thing.
And from my point of view, everybody knows that it should be done. But nobody executes it really properly today, and we don't have the seamless customer experience.
If we go to 9 out of 10 websites from an OEM, they all look like 99. It's a web 2.0 configurator, some images, some text. It's not engaging, it's not meaningful, it's not intentional, it's not personal, everybody sees the same thing.
And if I go to the website three times, and always have to go through the same steps again and again and again, and I think that's not 2023. So, we have technology with the supercomputer in our pockets. We have the expectation that everything should be seamless and immersive. And this is what we do at Journee.
So, we don't stop at the product visualisation, we start with a product experience. So, you enter the virtual world, it's seamless, it's meaningful, and you always get the unexpected and you leverage immersive web technologies in AI, every experience is unique and personalised to the user.
And when you are inside the world, you forget the time because it's so much fun and there's always new things to discover. That's what delights the customers and the users. And in the end, this converts to business that's not just for fun, it's all about business.
Daniel: I know that there are so many users of the new app, even compared to drivers of new vehicles. How is that possible and how important is a community for you at NIO?
Ben: The community is the backbone. So, for us, the car is more or less the entrance to the community, if you like. But you can also be part of the community without the car.
That's funnily what we see, especially in Germany, that a lot of people are hesitant to go into the NIO houses and join a yoga class, get a coffee, or just relax in the library or work there because they think, “Probably I need to pay for it, or I need to own one of the cars.”
That's super fun to see, but first, it's all built on the community. And people like to be part of this community. Also, users form their own clubs. So, in Norway we have the NIO Runners Club where one user said, “Hey, I'm a passionate runner. I invite everyone once a week to join me on running.”
So, they meet in the NIO house, go for a 5, 10 K run, and then they have breakfast together at the NIO house afterwards, and this is what it's all about.
Daniel: This is really cool to understand. And we are already in the, let's say, kind of usage phase, although you don't need to own a NIO, I have understood it to enter yoga class.
But let's say you are now driving one, which I find particularly interesting when again, looking at technology, how you are also dealing with the topic of, let's call it range anxiety of people that they're afraid to find a charging station. So, your concept about swapping stations.
So, I'm driving, I don't recharge my battery, I just get a new battery. How did you come up with that? And then what do you think is this a game changer for electric mobility?
Ben: We tried to eliminate a user pain point or multiple user pain points actually. One, there is a pain point of charging time. So, we reduce it to five minutes or even less.
We are constantly working on making the whole process of swapping shorter, and now we have wintertime, you don't even need to get out of the car, you don't have an iced charger, freezing hands, frozen charging port, et cetera. So, we eliminate this whole hassle of a charging process, especially during winter or summer when it's especially inconvenient.
Then also one point for if this is the residual value of the car, how much is my battery worth after three years, after four years, when there are new battery technologies, state of health, et cetera.
This is also eliminated because you basically don't need to worry about the residual value of your battery, and you participate in new battery technologies with your old car. So, the cars or the batteries are forward/backward compatible.
You can even upgrade your battery if you like over time. If your expectations change, you suddenly get a new job, which is a hundred kilometres away. So, you need more range on a daily basis, just upgrade your battery or downgrade vice versa.
And last but not least, the promise that you also participate in future technologies of battery development.
Daniel: I think it's really a very interesting concept. I'm very eager to see how this is developing in the years to come from a user and from a technology perspective.
Narrator: The discussion to this point has been focused on sharing real world observations from experiences. Ben explains more about what can be done to bring these ideas to life.
Ben: To be honest, for me, it mostly comes down to the mindset of the people you have in the company, the mindset of your employees that you share certain values. This value of user centricity of perhaps also others like honesty, action, care, vision, they all work in the same frame of common beliefs in the company, this helps a lot.
Secondly, you also need technology and the tools to enable the people to do their work properly and efficiently in the end. And this is where technology plays the role as an enabler for the organisation, we always see technology as an enabler, not as a purpose.
Daniel: Yeah, I agree. And Thomas from your perspective.
Thomas: It's pretty much the same. It's about people. So, I totally agree with the mindset from sea level to the shop floor, you need alignment on all levels regarding agility, regarding culture, regarding curiosity or braveness in order to change things. To adapt to go forward.
The second thing is also processes, many processes like the old Kaizen or continuous improvement every year, a couple of percent better. But sometimes you need to change things completely. The silo of thinking needs to stop, and you need to fulfil the needs for an omnichannel strategy.
You need a holistic process and technology strategy behind it. Starting with a digital twin, for example, no matter whether you need the digital twin to visualise cars on the website or to provide an amazing in-car experience during the swapping or charging them.
And third, it's about choosing and selecting the right technology partners. So, we had an interesting discussion before whether you should develop your own software or purchase one.
And if there's one out there which is ahead, then there's no better choice than to use this and save the time and the internal resources and take the advantage.
Daniel: I need to agree with you both. In the end, technology is there, technology will evolve, it will be made more usable for different use cases. It's really all about how we can make sure it's applied the right way? How can we get it integrated? How can we use it and how can employees, users really benefit from those technologies?
So, the last question that I want to talk to you about or ask you and where I want to get maybe even your kind of personal, really personal view on that. We have talked a lot about technologies.
And if we go online, if we listen to podcasts or also to other podcasts, we get so much information about new technologies every day. And I believe my personal view, 2023 was the year with the most, let's say, exciting technological advantages ever with so much happening in gen AI. But what also on, let's say, more basic technologies that made some advancements.
Thomas may be asking you first, what kind of technology will have the greatest impact on the future of customer user experience in the years to come?
Thomas: It’s not just one, it's a combination of multiple ones. So, last year we were all riding the Metaverse Wave, and Journee is the leading provider for immersive web technologies and end-to-end Metaverse solutions.
This year we were riding or still riding the AI wave. So, AI is everywhere, and I think AI is mandatory to anticipate users’ needs and to foresee what we need to do in the next step.
And third is XR, so extended realities. This creates a kind of personal experience which blends the digital with the physical world. So, we are going to have many digital experiences and we are very keen on the release of the Vision Pro, which will be a booster like the iPhone.
And all companies and all solution providers out there should prepare their stuff and their tools and their processes to be prepared.
Daniel: And Ben, what's your view? What technology will have the greatest impact on the future of the user experience?
Ben: I fully agree with Thomas that it's definitely gen AI, but also the fusion of the digital and the physical world. Especially gen AI, will allow us to scale user centricity and to scale product development in a way we haven't seen before and to create new user experiences way faster than we did the last years.
Daniel: I agree as well on this one I got to say. So, I think it's also a combination of different technologies. Very personal view is that if we can leverage technology to make lives easier, get rid of things that we don't want to do.
So, if I enter my car and it's still complicated to enter an address in my navigation system, we'll use any technology available to make this more easy. And if it's AI and speech, brilliant. If it's blending physical and digital, because I can do something maybe even from my couch beforehand, brilliant.
So, I'm really looking forward to it. I think we will see cool things happen in the future. And with that, I want to thank you both, Ben, and Thomas for your time today for sharing your thoughts on this very interesting topic.
Ben: Thank you.
Thomas: Thank you.
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Narrator It's clear from this discussion that digital technology today enables people like Ben and Thomas to have constant interaction with the user without any time or geographical constraints.
This is invaluable to help them shape the future of customer experience for the automotive industry going forward and is unmatched to what tools were before them merely five years ago.
This too has enabled new automotive companies like NIO to appear in a short space of time, rivalling legacy brands globally with software-defined automotive vehicles targeting customers based on the lifestyles they lead.
Thank you to Ben Steinmetz, Thomas Zuchtriegel and Daniel Garschagen. And thank you for listening to this episode of Driving the Future by Capgemini.
Oh, if you're heading to CES on Wednesday, the 10th of January 2024, Capgemini with Journee will talk more about this topic. You can find out more about this at capgemini.com/events. See you next time.