McCANN , Bristol / MOTABILITY / 2021
In the UK, over 1.8m people with restricted mobility are eligible for the Motability scheme. But only one third – 640,000 – have used their personal mobility allowance to finance a vehicle and become our ‘customers’. Motability’s aim is independence for all. But, for many, Motability only answers part of their problem: a car or wheelchair only gets you so far. You can drive to a car park, but it’s that last 100 metres of a journey where it all falls apart. It requires a huge amount of forward planning, fills people with anxiety and many simply don’t bother to travel. Our brief was to help break down this barrier and extend the customer journey, plugging the information gap between transport hubs (car parks, train stations, bus stops) and target destinations (shops/workplaces). By creatively capturing this data, we increase the value of the scheme and transform the customer experience.
Our pedestrian centres look very different when seated in a wheelchair or scooter. Even small things like a raised kerb can seem like an Everest. But what if we could map these obstacles in real time and reliably navigate around them? Google does that, right? Wrong. Google only allows us to instantly plot journeys by foot, car, train, cycle and bus. And while they capture basic data on the accessibility of ‘places’ (confined to entrances/exits, steps/stairs) there’s no option to instantly plot an accessible journey that accounts for the many obstacles disabled people encounter every day. Moreover, Google’s data is open-sourced, which compromises reliability. Our creative idea was simple: a mobile solution that puts accessibility in the hands of those who need it most. By moving to a trusted, closed-community model, we can finally serve Google reliable, real-time data: for the people who matter, from the people who matter.
To give our customers the confidence to take on an entire journey, we need to map that entire journey. And enable them to access accurate and current, needs-based data, effortlessly. Our strategy was a bold one: enrich the map that’s already in everyone’s pockets. And, for the first time, facilitate accessible ‘whole journeys’ for all. Stage One was to collaborate with Google. They immediately saw value in collaborating with Motability’s sizeable and unique customer base to reliably capture richer and more robust, real-time data sets on everyday journeys. Stage Two involved our customers directly in the scoping, creation and iteration of GoAbility – our new mobile-based, data capture tool. Both Google and Motability adhered to the ethos of the disabled community: ‘Nothing about us, without us.’ Our data would be informed by real-life experiences, provide for different levels of ability and account for a much broader range of obstacles.
GoAbility implements existing features of mobile – GPS, camera, accelerometer (new functionality is in development to record surface data and gradient) - in important and impactful ways. From ongoing, online test and learn sessions with customer groups, we established what data is most useful, including: specifying your need (wheelchair, scooter, assisted walking or cognitive disability eg. autism); recording ‘unseen’ obstacles to journey planning (kerbs, cobbles, crowds –not just steps/stairs); pinning photos (a critical need for many); and rating difficulty of obstacles (ultimately enabling Google Maps to output a choice of routes calibrated to individual capabilities). Iterative testing began with a pilot in ‘inaccessible’ Bristol, scaling to a dozen UK cities in 2021 (COVID permitting). It’s an agile approach – discovery, definition, testing and iteration – that’s maximising the CX for 640k customers, putting accessibility at their fingertips, and helping them see – in real-time - what Google can't currently see.
The GoAbility journey has only just begun but it’s already galvanised disparate customers into an active community. Iterative testing has delivered encouraging results. LIGHTWEIGHT UI: obstacles can be categorised, rated and pinned in 4 clicks. Wheelchair users (powered and manual) average 7.8 data points p/hour. SCALABLE: By harnessing 5% of our customer base for just one hour, we can map 250,000 data points across the UK. OPPORTUNITY: GoAbility better positions Motability to take advantage of a predicted 20% growth in mobility vehicles in 5 years. Global market for wheelchairs alone is set to hit $9.6bn by 2027. ECONOMY: The purple pound (disabled spending power) can inject £249bn into the UK retail recovery, underscoring importance of greater access in our commercial centres. GoAbility doesn’t just capture data, it captures insights, helping us advance our customers’ needs. It transforms the brand relationship. We no longer simply offer mobility vehicles. We facilitate freedom.