Improving Lead Development and Conversion Rates
ChallengeChrome wanted to take two of their most successful products, Carbook (a vehicle research tool) and LotRunner (a vehicle locator tool), and integrate the products as one "user experience". The new product needed to incorporate the following issues:
- The new User Interface should reflect the functionality anticipated by the growing car buying population on the whole.
- The configurator will be ported to Yahoo! and other websites or portals.
- The configurator must increase the lead capture potential for car dealers.
- The two separate applications should stand alone as well as work together.
- Create a compelling user experience that increases customer satisfaction and ease-of-use.
- Increase customer conversion and leads for dealers.
Having spent the bulk of development time optimizing Chrome's showcase car buying configurator to reflect the company's core strength (data integrity), Chrome knew it needed to shift gears and catch up on product usability. To achieve optimal usability, Chrome commissioned a User Centered Design redesign approach to overhauling their flagship product. The business goal driving the changes were to make the product more attractive to potential portals and car dealerships. Chrome knew that 80% of US car buyers were researching vehicle purchases online. Of those car buyers slightly over 50% were women.
Experience Dynamics started by screening and recruiting consumers with the intention to purchase in the next 30 days, or who had just purchased in the past 30 days. The car buying consumers would be involved in an ethnographic field study: day in the life interviews designed to capture values, beliefs, goals, perceptions and expectations. Experience Dynamics conducted the 'Expectation Profiling' in the native habitats of car buyers: on dealer car lots, at consumer homes and in the workplace.
Experience Dynamics implemented its Rapid Ethnography field study, involving in-depth profiling of car buying users, capturing real-world usage scenarios, user needs and detailed insight into tasks deemed important to car buyers. We asked open-ended questions about car purchasing decisions, upcoming car-purchases and uncovered user goals and personas. In addition, we intercepted actual car shoppers in dealer lots. With the field data, we were able to prioritize features and functionality and to understand how they should best be displayed to make sense and appeal to users.
"I think your User Expectation Profiling document is a big step in the right direction. I have seen how defining a customer experience by segments (e.g. demographic, psycho graphic, behavioral etc.) allows a much richer discussion of the "user profile"/ target market at the PAC/executive level. While we might fight over the relative value of features all day long, we all can easily agree that "Trusting Tina" doesn't want tech specs." - Peter Batten, Chief Strategy Officer, Chrome Systems
Next, in order to validate the new persona based design direction, Experience Dynamics constructed paper-prototype (wireframe) Interaction Design concepts. Experience Dynamics conducted usability testing with design prototypes representing dominant persona scenarios. The usability testing revealed some startling results: So-called 'technical with cars' users did not always remember what trim types were. In addition, the majority of users did not understand or notice design elements considered useful in the usability community in the year 2000, specifically breadcrumb navigation.
Experience Dynamics refined the prototype designs to incorporate error handling, decision support and alternative navigation and conducted another round of low-fidelity usability testing (a type of fast, no frills usability testing) with more real users. We then refined the designs, added screen behaviors and graphic design guidelines and completed the findings, delivering Chrome's development team a user-validated User Interface Design specification.
- The User Interface Design specification was well received by Chrome's team as well as Chrome's 10,000+ customers and partners.
- Chrome's sales efforts were dramatically enhanced, due to the user-validation, Chrome was able to communicate value proposition based on customer needs-- not just data integrity.
- Chrome landed strategic partnerships with Costco, e-Bay, Siebel and AutoTrader as a result of the redesign.
- During the course of our research we identified a new service Chrome could use with its existing intelligence: The 'Chrome Top 10', which became a legendary data feed for both auto buyers and dealer franchise merchandising.
About Chrome Systems
With more than 10,500 clients, including half of all automotive dealers in the U.S. and Canada, Chrome Systems (www.chrome.com) provides vehicle configuration technology, software and professional services to produce complete enterprise solutions for all segments of the retail automotive industry, including manufacturers, fleet companies, dealers and Internet sites. Chrome pioneered the technology behind electronic vehicle configuration and for the past 15 years has collected, analyzed and enhanced "raw" automotive data from all manufacturers. Chrome provides the North American ordering system for General Motors and its 8,400 dealers. Chrome sets the standard in ordering systems for fleet management, serving 15 of the 17 largest fleet leasing companies. Chrome's automotive dealer clients accounted for more than half of all new vehicles sold in the United States.
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