But Ask Mercedes is just one iteration of a new concept that Daimler wants to use to reach and support its customers in an unprecedented way. Other chatbot applications and contents are coordinated via an ‘intelligent’ information hub.
More functions, less complexity
The idea for this chatbot application was born during Digital Life Day 2016. The aim of Daimler’s in-house format is to identify trends and digital topics. Employees are encouraged to present and submit their ideas in a mix of an Ideas Exchange and workshop. The participants identified the chatbot concept as a modern way of making it easier for customers to interact with their vehicles – vehicles which offer an ever-increasing number of functions, thus also making them more complicated.
Everything then happened very quickly following the Digital Life Day: A so-called minimum viable product (MVP) was developed to test the feasibility and the acceptance of the chatbot. This approach originated in the lean start-up movement and helps companies to better estimate a product or service’s chances of success. However, this is not done through surveys, but instead through feedback from users who try out early versions of a new product. This feedback is then used to enhance and improve the next version.
At the end of the MVP phase, the participants were certain that chatbots could ensure Mercedes-Benz customers get to know and experience their vehicle in a completely new way. The experts then added another future trend to the concept – augmented reality. The functionalities of Ask Mercedes are built on these two pillars.
Daimler is positioning Ask Mercedes precisely on a customer pain point. The range of functions in vehicles and the supplementary service offer is continuously increasing. That’s why it is becoming more and more important to engage in a close dialogue with customers. The company wants customers to be able to inform themselves and get answers to unresolved issues anytime and anywhere. The first steps of this process should be as simple and interesting as possible for the user, which is why additional quick start guides and tutorial videos are available on the website alongside the detailed operating instructions. Ask Mercedes is not replacing the previous sources of information, it is simply providing the driver with another way of getting to know their vehicle. The application is a new, interactive addition to the options for communicating with customers. For one thing, Ask Mercedes is capable of understanding and answering questions asked by the customer in natural language or submitted via text. As well as that, an integrated camera function powered by natural language understanding and augmented reality technologies allows the driver to scan controls and have the relevant explanations displayed on their smartphone.
This eliminates the need to search through pre-set structures such as alphabetised lists. Instead, Ask Mercedes always puts the needs of the customer and their situation first by giving them the exact information they need at that specific moment whilst remaining both charming and informative.
Short channels lead to the desired outcome
It was clear once the MVP phase had been successfully completed that this type of project could only be implemented with an experienced partner on board. The experts from adesso prevailed in an extensive selection process. The decision-makers at Daimler were impressed by the employees’ experience and expertise with chatbots, as well as adesso’s product and manufacturer-independent positioning.