Chariot

Design experiments studying in-vehicle content and service offers on perceptions of commuter shuttles.
 
Challenge:

Chariot was looking for ways to grow their business, diversify its revenue streams, and attract more customers. D-Ford was operating an experimental shuttle line for Chariot in San Francisco’s Mission District. An earlier project team upgraded the vehicle with a new seating layout and an interior display prototype, but additional testing regarding content for the display and additional services for riders needed to be completed.

Outcome:

Learnings from the experiments helped establish a foundation for later experiments related to Chariot’s Enterprise service customers. Project insights and design features were integrated into Chariots product roadmap.

Timeline:

January to March 2018

Role:

Product Designer and Researcher

Team:
  • Operations Lead

  • Chariot Product Team

Project Context

D-Ford introduced two customized vehicles into service in San Francisco, with the goal of strengthening Chariot's existing business through enhancements to the vehicle layout and the addition of a dynamic display system. The impact of these upgrades needed to be tested. Would adding additional services to the platform be a way for Chariot to differentiate and attract new customers?

 

Chariot Deliveries

To increase the value that riders gained through repeat trips, an initial experiment was to add delivery services to the shuttle line. Customers could route package deliveries to Chariot’s depot office and make arrangements to retrieve their items on their evening commute.

Testing

We enrolled a subset of our riders in the experiment, letting them know about the new offering. Users changed their shipping address to Chariot’s depot office and we coordinated with Chariot’s operations team to make sure customer items made it to their scheduled vehicle. We collected feedback on the experience through interviews on the shuttle.

We created instructional material to let riders know about the offer and how to use it.

When an item arrived for a user, we coordinated with them over text messages to arrange the delivery.

When users boarded the van for their evening commute, drivers made sure items made it to the customer.

Feedback and Learnings

Customers participating responded very positively. Having a secure and reliable way to receive deliveries close to home was a huge convenience for riders.

App Concept

Based on these learnings, we translated the experience into app mock-ups to facilitate conversations with Chariot’s product team. We imagined a future state in which Chariot connected directly with ecommerce providers for bespoke experiences and integrations.

When ordering online, users select Chariot as a delivery location. When booking and en-route, they are reminded to retrieve their item.

 
Outcome

Through interviews with users, we identified the potential expansion of this model to other delivery and subscription services, including meal deliveries. Later experiments that Chariot ran with enterprise shuttle customers leveraged our learnings to test subscription meal kit deliveries.

Rider Engagement

Part of the vehicle upgrades from a previous phase of work was a dynamic screen. The team at Chariot had several open questions about types of content would riders look to the screen for. Beyond specific content, there was a broader question regarding the different ways that Chariot could engage riders.

Research

We enrolled a subset of our riders in the experiment, letting them know about the new offering. Users changed their shipping address to Chariot’s depot office and we coordinated with Chariot’s operations team to make sure customer items made it to their scheduled vehicle. We collected feedback on the experience through interviews on the shuttle.

Testing 

Through testing screen content, we found potential around using the screen as an icebreaker. Players developed friendly competition and collaborated with drivers to answer questions. Through our 6 week experiment, winners redeemed gift prizes from two local businesses.

We introduced the game using the in-vehicle display, instructing riders to text us to play.

The question of the day appeared on screen and riders submitted answers via text. They also could check their scores and compete with fellow riders.

Daily winners were entered to receive prizes from local businesses.

Feedback and Learnings

Users appreciated having relevant information about the route, driver, and timeline. The trivia game created a fun experience that helped build a sense of community among regular riders. Trivia was also an inoffensive way to promote local businesses near the shuttle line without feeling like advertising.

App Concept

As a provocation for Chariot’s product team, we created app screens for the trivia experience.

In addition to submitting answers in the app, riders could also redeem prizes and see their ranking compared to other passengers.

 
Outcome

The findings of this experiment illustrated possible revenue opportunities related to engaging riders through multiple channels (text, app, in-vehicle displays) by partnering with local businesses for trivia promotions.

 

Shuttle Routing

In research with riders related to the screen, we received a lot of feedback about different ways that the shuttle could be routed. This led to a quick set of prototypes designed to solicit feedback that could inform future service operations for Chariot’s service.

Route Iterations

Adjusting the route and timetable revealed new directions for how the service could operate in a more dynamic fashion.

1/5
Concept 1: Corridor Route

Riders book for trip in the corridor. The specific route dynamically adjusts based on real-time demand and users are provided with an ETA range based on historical trip data.

Testing and Learning

We turned concepts into clickable prototypes and showed them to riders. While riders appreciated the simplicity of the existing fixed routing and time table, a more flexible option would allow them to leverage the service for more use cases, particularly in the evening when they didn’t have a meeting to make.

Concept 2: Corridor Route

Riders book for trip in the corridor. The specific route dynamically adjusts based on real-time demand and users are provided with an ETA range based on historical trip data.

Outcome

Through testing our prototypes we found a potential opportunity in less ridgid shuttle routing and shared our findings with Chariot’s product team. Our concepts and learnings helped inform changes to the next generation of the Chariot app, which included a version of dynamic routing based on our research.

© Rob Sieg 2020