Working as a Well-Oiled Machine to Build Trust and Accelerate Innovation
As a leading source of vehicle history information in North America, CARFAX data touches almost every stage of the car ownership lifecycle—from shopping and purchase to driving and maintenance to eventual trade-in or sale, when the cycle starts all over again. After starting as a fax-based service, the company has evolved into a digital-first organization providing billions of vehicle records to millions of car owners and businesses.
For over a decade of the company’s history, 3Pillar Global was along for the ride, partnering closely as CARFAX brought six digital products to market, including two consumer mobile apps: myCARFAX (now called CARFAX Car Care) and Used Car Listings (Android version). During that time, we built a deep level of trust and confidence in our mobile team’s ability to deliver “stickier,” more successful digital products.
Staying in the Owner’s Pocket Throughout the Vehicle Lifecycle
CARFAX revenue growth and long-term business success depend on staying as close as possible to car owners and buyers throughout the entire lifecycle of a car. That means they must continually innovate to improve customer experience while developing new ways to monetize their vehicle data and diversify revenue.
Diana Sabau, Manager of Product Development at 3Pillar Global, was part of the CARFAX mobile app development team for 7 years, starting as a junior developer and later moving into a leadership role.
“The challenge we had in the beginning was gaining trust from CARFAX to not just deliver what they were asking for but to understand the business and context, and to become a true partner by asking questions and proposing ideas that would accelerate the envisioned growth.” Diana says.
Fueling the Engine for Customer Experience Innovation
Over time, the 3Pillar development team earned our client’s trust to become true strategic partners, working as one team to create the kind of experience that CARFAX mobile app users wanted.
The CARFAX Used Car Listings app makes it easy to find the right “new to you” car from millions of cars in the CARFAX database and get a free Vehicle History Report that shows whether the car has been in an accident or has an open recall as well as the car’s maintenance history, and much more. Because people typically just use the app for a short period of time while they’re actively searching for a car, ease of use was the most important consideration.
For the myCARFAX app, which makes it easy for car owners to keep track of routine maintenance, repairs, and other information, the team had to deliver a great customer experience with staying power. To create a “sticky” experience that motivated daily usage, the 3Pillar mobile team focused on three overarching goals:
- Increase myCARFAX app ratings
- Develop user-requested features
- Drive more users to the mobile apps
Responding to myCARFAX User Feedback
Based on the trust we had earned, our team gained access to the app stores where we could check reviews, see first-hand what issues users were having with the app, and respond to user feedback. We also were able to learn what new features users wanted, scope out the requirements, and propose improvements.
For example, based on user feedback we wanted to improve app stability to reduce crashes—which keeps people from using the app and drives down ratings. This required an engaged team that could deliver hotfixes in a flash and rapidly conduct quality assurance (QA) through automated testing.
Moving New Features into the Fast Lane
With a full workload, it could be challenging to find the time and resources to focus on building new features and improving the user experience. So throughout the year, our team conducted hackathons—one- to two-day dedicated innovation sprints—to experiment with the ideas gleaned from user feedback and make meaningful progress on development. “Then, if our clients agreed, we just had to polish the idea and make it production-ready,” Diana says. “So we could get new features into the app store faster.”
In addition to improving app stability, we used hackathons to develop new features, such as tracking for tire usage and gas mileage. These intensive work sessions had a remarkably successful track record—more than 70% of the features developed in hackathons actually made it into the app.
Improving App Engagement and Daily Usage
In another case, we created a wearable application for smartwatches that allowed car owners to enter their odometer data directly from their watch when they were on the go or fueling up their car. This made it much easier to keep the information accurate and up to date—and provide timely service alerts based on those odometer readings. The smartwatch application, which was featured on Google Play, also keeps users more engaged and increases daily usage.
Igniting Faster Time to Value and Long-Term Success
Like a high-powered engine firing on multiple cylinders our engaged mobile team worked in tandem with CARFAX to power continuous customer experience innovation and drive our client’s success.
- Increased app ratings for both Android and iOS—with ratings continuing to rise after each new release.
- Achieved 99.8% crash-free user rate.
- Drove new users and improved app engagement by developing user-requested features.
- Enabled faster feature releases, reducing build time from 30 minutes to 8 minutes.
During our long and enduring partnership, 3Pillar and CARFAX have traveled many miles together — with even more to come. Beyond the immediate impact of each application’s success, we showed how the power of passionate product development teams can help businesses to improve customer experiences through rapid innovation, get better products to market faster, and realize a higher, more sustainable return on their product development investments.
See how we helped CARFAX diversify revenue and expand into new markets by gaining a deep understanding of different user needs and opportunities.
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