The EV Buildout is Creating New OEM-Fleet Virtual Relationships
This article was originally published HERE
Customer sales and support will always be an integral part of introducing and onboarding a new product or service. In the fleet world this could mean software upgrades and telematics system installations to partnering with a new fleet management company.
Traditionally, those conversations started by picking up the phone. Today, digital communications via the internet allow visual education via screen sharing. Newer versions are moving into communications with product specialists who interact with physical displays. This is the format for General Motor’s EV Live platform.
EV Live may sound like late-night television for car geeks, but instead, it’s an actual studio in suburban Detroit. Users click on a link and after a brief countdown are facetiming with a live specialist who gives a brief introduction and then engages the user on their specific questions. Using a tablet with a camera, the specialist can walk users through displays of GM’s electric vehicles, an Ultium electric chassis, and Ultium-branded charging equipment.
With the displays as a visual tool, specialists will answer questions on battery technology, vehicle and charging equipment functionality, and product decision making, as well as address issues like range anxiety. If the specialists can’t answer it, they’ll find someone who can get back to the user.
The concept isn’t new, as GM has had a live studio experience to demo Cadillac vehicles since 2019. But the value of this virtual environment is heightened when it comes to delivering education on brand-new technologies and the ecosystems forming around them, such as vehicle electrification. The ability to see live interactions with the actual product, and engage with the specialist to answer questions immediately, should condense the user’s education process and thus adoption timeline.
Live EV Education
EV Live accepts calls from anyone in the GM universe, from dealers and utilities to consumers, fleet customers, and GM employees, along with those new to GM’s brands and EVs in general. The service is available seven days a week, and it’s free.
According to Caley Hill, senior manager, EV education for GM, the calls run the gamut from straightforward information seekers and vehicle owners with a technical issue to resolve, to engaging with EV naysayers. “It’s a chance to educate a broad spectrum of EV owners and potential owners, and for GM to address their concerns,” she said, adding that EV Live’s longest call was 2.5 hours.
The studio also has an area specific to fleets that includes a BrightDrop electric van. For fleets, GM will create specific training curriculums and schedule group presentations, Hill said.
Hoss Hassani, vice president of charging and energy for GM, said that GM’s partnership with Domino’s franchisees to fleet Chevy Bolts for pizza deliveries is a good example of how EV Live can educate fleets through live training.
Trying it Out
EV Live has been up and running since last summer. At a recent media event, GM ran a live demo with an operator who took our questions. In the guise of a fleet manager running sales and service vehicles, I asked about which EV charger might be right for my situation.
The specialist walked us through the chargers, showed the connector hose, and explained the different EV charging standards. The specialist then entered a Cadillac Lyriq and scrolled through the touchscreen to demonstrate how the displays interact with the charging equipment.
I had a few more questions later at my desk, so I decided my best bet for answers was to go back on EV Live. Sure enough, the experience replicated the group demo. I was immediately connected to a rep.
In a one-on-one scenario, it’s a bit startling at first when a live person appears in front of you. But don’t worry, that specialist can’t see you. However, two-way communication will soon be possible and could be particularly effective to help users with a particular issue on a product they own.
I identified myself as a member of the trade media. She answered my questions and mentioned her team recently working with a large pharmaceutical fleet. The experience was seamless, though the studio should get a lot busier soon, as GM is launching 30 new EV models in the next two years.
Feel free try it yourself now and leave a comment on your experience.