- Bold new digital vision for Toyota, dealers and customers.
Throwing down the gauntlet
Toyota were in the midst of considering a new content management system to improve the content publishing process on dealer sites.
There is currently no consistency among Toyota dealer sites with regards to content or visual presentation and managing content was a complicated, time consuming exercise.
During the course of this project, Toyota challenged us to imagine bigger possibilities for their dealer site network beyond just fixing content publishing.
They challenged us to imagine new ways of anticipating and meeting customer needs they didn’t even know existed.
The gauntlet had been thrown; we picked it up.
Introducing Larry and Anita
One of the constraints we had to tackle upfront was the lack of an allocated budget to conduct user research (considering this wasn’t a core part of the initial project).
We decided we’d start by considering the most common situations customers are in when looking to purchase a new vehicle and understand their thinking.
We devised two personas: Larry and Anita. Larry was already a Toyota customer who had a lease on his Yaris 5dr Hatchback expiring within 6 months.
Larry was on the lookout for a larger family vehicle. Anita on the other hand, was not a Toyota customer but she was on the lookout for a good deal.
Our challenge here was to consider these two common, but slightly different personas, the common tasks they would undertake, their journeys and how Toyota could better anticipate their needs while also meeting business goals.
Task modelling and journey mapping
So what were these common tasks? In Larry’s case, an existing customer would often carry out the following (this is just a subset of tasks and not necessarily executed at the one time):
- Conduct a natural search on Toyota or dealers’ site (for example: “family cars”)
- Browse and possibly click-through search results to explore pricing and specifications
- Investigate deals for vehicles in categories of interest
- Book a car service (for an existing car)
In Anita’s case, a prospective customer would often carry out the following (also just a subset of tasks; not necessarily executed at the one time):
- Search for car deals (possibly on non-Toyota or non-dealer sites)
- Visit Toyota if she discovers a deal that might interest her
- Book a test drive for cars of interest
We then weaved these tasks into journeys to bring them to life. This gave us better insight into how we could intelligently enhance the customer experience.
The journey mapping incorporated mobile where appropriate and highlighted the technical capabilities we were using to support the task being showcased.
Up close and personal
Since Larry was an existing customer, we knew a bit more about him and we were able to intelligently personalise his experience.
We knew Larry’s lease would expire in 6 months so we were able to offer him a targeted finance offer in and among the vehicles he was browsing.
We could invite him to test drive a vehicle that other customers within Larry’s area, in the same age group had purchased within the last 6 months.
We introduced functionality which would enable Larry to book in his car service at his local dealership a few weeks prior to it being due. Once Larry arrived at the dealership, the dealer could offer a courtesy car based on Larry’s browsing history and the offers he had clicked on.
In Anita’s case, we could still learn about her even though she was “anonymous” according to Toyota. We could build a profile about her and learn from her behaviours (i.e. what she clicks on while browsing the site, external sites she comes from when ending up at Toyoya). This enables us to provide her with a level of personalisation much like Larry’s.
In both Larry and Anita’s circumstances (customer and non-customer), we are able to provide personalised service based on implicit learning.
As we learn more about customers and prospective customers, the site becomes smarter and smarter and thus more tailored over time.
To achieve this, it meant that we not only had to understand users and their needs, but also when would be the most appropriate time to suggest users take a look at something that could be of potential interest.
We had to guide customers like a knowledgeable tour guide in an upscale museum (who happened to know all about you before you arrived.)
It also meant that we had to understand the technical capabilities of the underlying content management systems so that we could leverage the technology appropriately. This deep understanding meant that we were able to throw in some extra functionality like predictive search.
All this work required a large degree of integration across numerous internal Toyota systems and external data sources.
Presenting the vision
We then set out to present the vision to Toyota’s senior IT management by showcasing the common journeys of Larry and Anita and how the smarts could be intelligently integrated to offer a more personalised experience.
I also created interactive wireframes to help convey the convenience and usefulness of this user experience. Visual designs were also mocked-up by one of my colleagues to showcase the potential end-state.
Toyota loved it and they were sold on the vision. It was now a matter of proving the vision could be technically delivered. This would be carried out through a Proof of Concept that would run over a period of two months.
This project was carried out in conjunction with Oakton Technology.
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