Makarand Utpat

Using Mobility to build Brand Affinity

I was about to leave for work. I realized that the tire was busted. I called AAA and they said they will send a towing truck to tow my vehicle.

Lately, I hadn’t felt the need to use AAA’s services. “Brace yourself”, I said to myself.

In the past, I had disappointing experiences of dealing with AAA (I know many of my friends share the same feeling) where AAA committed to sending a towing truck, but it invariably happened to be a waiting game.

Not on one occasion but several occasions!! They were not able to fulfill a promise in given time (on several occasions) and it required me to call them often to see what is the current status of the towing truck and how long is it going to take to arrive etc. Quite frustrating it was, I must say!

I expected something similar this time. In one sense, I felt I was lucky that car’s tire was busted while I was at home and not on the road.  “That is not too bad”, I said to myself.

They said, “would you like us to send the SMS alerts?”

I was not sure what they meant so I asked them to elaborate.

They said, “You can monitor the dispatcher in terms of where will he be coming from, the location, how long will it take, the progress etc.”

I agreed.

I received their 1st text:

I clicked on the above link and after that, I received 3 updates in terms of vehicle dispatched, en-route and arrived. 3 text messages are consolidated in single image (see below):

There was a definitive workflow that I could see and monitor in real-time.

In short, it was awesome!

Throughout the process, I knew exactly where the dispatcher was, what time he started from auto shop, what route it was taking, and when can I expect it to arrive at destination. Needless to say, it was quite UBER-like, LYFT-like, and OLA-like experience.

I could relate to it instantly.

The guy came, towed my car to the auto mechanic shop and then I was in business.

I finally said to myself “No more Cat-and-Dog Experience with AAA!”

This brings me to 3 takeaways:

  1. Customer Experience Boundaries- Companies like UBER, LYFT, Amazon have spoiled us for good by redefining the customer experience boundaries. Anything else, we now consider out of the norm in terms of expecting a good customer experience.
  2. Disrupt or get disrupted-  The digital disruption is here to stay. Sometimes, it can be hard for “older”, “legacy” companies like AAA to embrace the innovation since it requires culture change and mentality which needs to be driven top-down. I am glad to see that AAA was able to embrace the mobile aspect (although I have not used their Mobile App yet) of SMAC (social, mobile, analytics, and cloud). They definitely scored big points for me.
  3. Brand Affinity- I could see that AAA has come long way. Never in this process, I had to pick up the phone again to call AAA to check on the status (which was a pain-in-the-neck experience in the past). On the contrary, I felt I was much more engaged throughout the process where AAA kept me connected from “problem” to “solution” through a journey in terms of receiving the alerts, real-time notifications, and empowering me (as a customer) by giving me the ability to track and monitor the progress.

The more a company can keep its customers engaged the more it helps to solidify its own brand. Today’s SMAC (social, mobile, analytics, and cloud) is making it possible.

To your Success!

–Makarand Utpat