The AA - Car Genie
Product, Operations & Technology Director
Car Genie is an innovative new connected car solution that was launched exclusively to AA members in mid 2017. The product is one of the first consumer led offerings in the telematics space. Every step has been pieced together with the customer in mind and even includes 2,500 bespoke fitment guides so customers can set up the device in their specific vehicle in under one minute. The customer simple checks compatibility online, buys the product, downloads the app, plugs in the device and they're good to go. The design is elegant and truly digital by design.
What was the in-market status quo before the proposition was created?
Nobody knew what a connected car was. If you ask your gran or somebody at the pub it meant nothing. Our starting point was building a category and a market place for connected car and Car Genie. We’re incredibly proud of our Google search where you see everything from a product page to independent product reviews to media coverage.
The connected services market for automotive was focused on servicing new vehicles, yet the average age of the car park in the UK is almost a decade old, meaning that customers were not able to get access to this great technology. This is despite consumers demanding more and more everyday connectivity in their lives, such as Strava, Apple Watch, Sky Q, Hive etc. All that was available to consumers from a connected perspective was ‘black box’ insurance which was rightly perceived as a ‘big brother’ product that was there to penalise consumers if they did something wrong.
There was also an inherent lack of trust around vehicles and in particular fixing them. Consumers have huge brand affinity to OEM’s but no trust, consumers do not trust garages and dealers and they already think they give too much information to the likes of Google.
There was therefore a space for the most trusted brand in motoring to provide this kind of groundbreaking solution that truly has customers at the heart of the proposition.
What challenges were you facing as a business?
The business is going through a two-year transformation program and has a real focus on the core profitability areas such as insurance and roadside recovery. This raised two challenges 1) the ability to gain buy in and 2) the ability to get stuff done. Also, until now, new product innovation was not something the AA had been familiar with as most of the innovation was focused on how we service and interact with our members. It required a new skill set to be recruited in to the business. The product also had limited investment from a resource and financing perspective. So, a couple of challenges!!
What impact has the proposition had?
There have been four key areas of benefit:
As we started moving through the agile development process the product gained real traction and has actually be used ATL as a key hero proof point for our brand repositioning
Car Genie Advert .we have created a product with true customer and societal benefits e.g. preventing crashes, recovering stolen vehicles and making people better drivers – this has deepened our relationship and NPS with members we have realized a win win for the business and customer through preventing breakdowns and dispatching the right service when somebody does breakdown we have created a software experience so we can continually enrich was is provided to the customer we have created a feel-good factor for staff and a sense of pride in being part of a transforming AA. We’ve had spontaneous feedback like ‘this product makes me incredibly proud to work for the AA.’
What approach did you take when creating the new proposition?
The product was delivered in a completely agile methodology. We also build infrastructure that didn’t impact core systems so we can continue to develop and enhance the product on an ongoing basis.
What challenges did you overcome?
One of the biggest challenges we faced was creating a product for a category that didn’t exist. This required us to be truly customer led, running a pilot with 10k customers and carrying out research with 17k customer to understand key pain points such as: 1. I will never lose my car (95%) 2. I won’t break down – which will save me money (90%) 3. I can get immediate help and advice if I’m in an accident (80%)
What advice would you give to other corporate entrepreneurs?
Team culture, be prepared to break through walls to change the status quo, never give up and make sure you take your key stakeholders on the journey.
What was your project highlight?
Getting the product live on time and on budget and seeing the first sales and reviews come through. Also in recent weeks the amount of use cases that have come through and the societal benefits we have created.
Who are your project heroes?
The whole team. We had a team of five delivering the project all with really clear ownership. Without all five we would not be live.