Introducing... Ask Anni

Market Gravity and Deloitte embarked on an open innovation initiative called D5. The aim of the work was to spend 5 weeks uncovering the biggest challenges automotive customers face when it comes to car maintenance, and design solutions for those problems.

Car maintenance is a negative, anxiety-inducing experience for most car owners, described as “like going to the Dentist”. There are 37 million cars licensed in the UK alone, that’s a huge market, ripe for innovation.

Over 5 weeks, we spoke with 60 customers, mechanics and dealers across Europe. We immersed ourselves in the stories and experiences of every one of them.

Our plan is to share this work with each and every player in the automotive industry. It’s worth saying these ideas are works in progress, we welcome feedback and our next steps are to find ways of making them real for the benefit of automotive customers across Europe.

The Big Problem

 Through our research, we uncovered that customers had a lack of understanding about their cars - from warning light meanings to those pesky rattles. Whilst some issues were clearly for a skilled mechanic to take a look at, it was clear that others could be quickly resolved if the customer had the right support to hand. One customer in particular phoned their emergency breakdown service as they couldn’t figure out how to switch off a beeping noise and was worried that it could be a major issue;

‘They arrived, pressed one button in the car and the beeping stopped… I felt so embarrassed. I’d been waiting an hour!’

Moreover, even when speaking with the professionals it can be complicated and confusing, customers told us that mechanics often use jargon which bewilders them bringing doubt to the reasoning behind repair costs.

‘When something goes wrong with my car, I don’t really understand what has happened or how to fix it’

Introducing… Anni

Anni is the definitive car partner in your pocket, she removes the hassle and headache of checking the owner’s manual by providing a means of asking any question at the touch of a button, using text, voice or simply by taking a photo. But Anni is more than your average voice assistant, she finds you the best answer, tailored for your specific car make and model, from a range of sources. She has the ability to sync to your in-car telematics unit (or optional add-on device) helping prevent potential issues and breakdowns. Anni is more than a search tool, she’s an answer engine.


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See Anni come to life here:

Customer context

We spoke to young drivers, families with children and older motorists throughout the UK. Ask Anni resonated because customers could see that she’s going to save them time and money by empowering them to solve those quick, simple fixes in their cars.

Anni particularly resonated with young drivers as they’re strapped for cash and are already trying to solve some issues themselves using YouTube but find it’s not always straightforward as the answers aren’t tailored to their specific car.

How is this different to what’s in the market?

Personal digital assistants already exist with the likes of Alexa, Cortana, Google Assistant and Siri serving customers, how would this differ?

Have you ever tried to ask “how much should the tyre pressure be in my car?” and of course, it all depends on your specific make and model, size of your wheel and how much load you have in your car. Anni would know the make and model already, and will ask the right follow up questions in order to serve you the right answer.

I just asked Siri “my car is making a funny noise”, and the response I got back “there is a nearby Vauxhall garage”. I don’t drive a Vauxhall.

What’s in it for car manufacturers?

Car manufacturers have all the data on the car before it leaves the factory, such as the make, model, year, engine size and even which plant it was made in. They can marry and analyse this data with the most common issues and provide clear answers to improve customer satisfaction and loyalty.

This in turn would reduce the need to talk to a mechanic or a customer service representative, reducing the calls or visits to dealerships for simple enquiries.

The data can be enriched with the sale of a telematics device, helping both the car manufacturer and customer with enhanced features such as helping to prevent potential issues and breakdowns before they happen. Imagine if the questions being asked to Anni could flag a significant problem or re-call issue before it became widespread? This would help to reduce reputational damage.

What’s next?

Well if you're a car manufacturer or business within the automotive industry, we'd love to make this idea real. It's not perfect, we know that but customers we tested this with LOVED it. So let's make it happen together.

Get in touch to find out more via the contact us page.

Kishan Gajjar