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Pioneering a direct-to-consumer sales channel for Volkswagen Financial Services

In 2018, VWFS approached us with the need to establish a new route to market, a route that would give them a direct, digital connection to customers. They saw an opportunity to disrupt the vehicle leasing market, that would rapidly accelerate the development of their own in-house digital capabilities and ways of working.

The challenge

The UK is one of the world’s biggest markets for leasing new cars, with more than 90% of new vehicles being purchased in this way. As the buying habits of UK motorists change, sales channels need to adapt.

One of the main products used by Volkswagen brand customers to finance their vehicles is Contract Hire. Historically, this product has been business focused, but in recent years Contract Hire has become a much more retail focused product, driven by the third-party broker market which operates almost exclusively online.

As part of a wider digitalisation programme, VWFS prioritised the launch of DRIVE, a new direct-to-customer leasing service that would leverage the strength of its brand portfolio, and offer an end-to-end customer experience that starts and ends with VWFS, something that had never been done before.

Outcomes and Impact

DRIVE is the first ever digital service that allows customers to compare and lease vehicles from multiple Volkswagen Group brands directly from VWFS. This gives back control of the customer experience to VWFS, and reduces the regulatory risk associated with selling through third-party leasing companies. It’s also a huge step forward from a technology perspective, in terms of allowing VWFS to more easily experiment with new propositions on the platform, and adapt to the rapidly changing mobility landscape.

Futurice’s work to scale and adapt this platform over the last few years has enabled VWFS to continue to leverage DRIVE as means to reach customers during the Covid 19 pandemic, when physical dealerships, and supply chain issues took a heavy toll on the automotive industry as a whole.

With a collaborative approach from day one, we’ve also had the opportunity to showcase and transfer new tools and methods that have helped to develop VWFS’s in-house product, design and technology capabilities.

Our approach

VWFS needed a partner who could bring together service design, UX/UI design and software engineering capabilities to create and launch a best-in-class customer journey for DRIVE. There was also a desire to work with a partner who had an established way of working and the tools to transfer digital skills and capabilities to the VWFS team in tandem with delivery.

We kicked off the project with a Futurice Service Vision Sprint (SVS), using our Open Source Lean Service Creation toolkit to define the concept from business needs through to validated service concept. With the initial work focused on Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles, we mapped out customer journeys through user interviews and built a responsive website including the frontend, backend and set up of a new DevOps and Cloud infrastructure.

Over the following four years we worked closely alongside VWFS Innovation and Marketing teams to on-board additional brands such as Audi, Seat, Cupra, Škoda, and Volkswagen Passenger Cars, scaling DRIVE into a first of its kind proposition for Volkswagen Group (VWG) by enabling customers to browse and compare vehicles across VWG brands, in a single digital experience.

Alongside this, testing and customer engagement work led by Futurice, has facilitated ongoing optimisation and enhancement of the DRIVE platform, such as the addition of a dedicated user journey to promote and lease vehicles on special offer, and by building and testing new features that support VWFS customers to self-serve online.

About Volkswagen

Volkswagen Financial Services (VWFS) is the leading provider of vehicle finance in the UK. They provide finance and insurance services to customers across the entire Volkswagen Group, including Audi, SEAT, Škoda, Porsche, Bentley, Lamborghini, MAN Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles, and of course Volkswagen Passenger Cars.

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