Customer needs in future mobility services

What do you value in a transport experience? Is it the ability to chair conference calls in your top-quality, customizable, leather car seat while driving? Or do you just want to nap during a safe, low-cost transit from A to B? Universally though, I see time efficiency, flexibility and predictability becoming increasingly important determinants of the holistic mobility user experience.

Time – the ultimate scarce resource

“Time is money”, is a familiar maxim dating back to the ancient Greek orator, Antiphon. But even if money is no obstacle, our time is ultimately limited and, typically, we’d like to be able to choose how we use it. Mobile phones and hands-free devices have already increased our ability to efficiently use our travel time. In the future, self-driving cars and other new technologies such as 5G (connectivity), augmented reality (visualization) and voice-recognition (control) have the potential to improve the value of our transit time even further (e.g. virtual meetings, reading, or even exercising).

Flexibility – the ability to serve a wide spectrum of customer-specific preferences

Even if “time is money”, we all have our preferences as to how much we are willing to pay for what – no matter whether it’s the speed of transit, the comfort of seats, the access to outlets, the luggage storage capacity or (in a multi-modal example) the alternative route options, the ease of payment, the possibility to select transport modes, and so on. Therefore, I see an increasing trend to customize the mobility experience as a means of differentiating oneself from the competition.

Predictability, reliability and consistency in service delivery – to build loyalty and trust

Nobody likes negative surprises. Whatever transport option I choose, I want to be sure of the outcome beforehand. This relates to a range of aspects, but in particular to cost and time. Most of us have experienced the annoyance of train or flight delays, being stuck in a traffic jam, or being charged unexpected costs when returning a holiday rental. And we are much more likely to remember poor service delivery than good service delivery when making future purchases.

So what?

The mobility sector has heated up due to significant investment in new business models and services, with the car industry historically taking a large portion of the monetary value. However, as roads continue to clog up with rampant urbanization, and as new technology increasingly connects people in real time, I believe a shift in value will occur – a shift from a ‘Product Ownership’ model to an ‘As a Service’ model. This has already disrupted several industries (e.g. software, music) and mobility is showing signs that it will be the next (e.g. Uber, EV sharing Bird or the Whim app).

The service model will require a different way of thinking, as customer value will include time efficiency, flexibility and reliability, in addition to the product’s own attributes. Product-centric companies, although experts in their products, may have trouble adjusting to these new service paradigms. Therefore, I see a potential for collaboration between companies that can jointly offer a mix of legacy and new capabilities, thus delivering the holistic mobility experience customers require. If such collaboration were to adopt value-based pricing methods, they could attract a sizeable chunk of the value within the mobility sector.

In conclusion, companies will need to re-think how they can satisfy customer needs to increase their chances of winning in the future mobility landscape.

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