EV CX Predictions For 2022 with Michael Zdanowski

Please note that this is an automatically generated transcript.

Neal Bartram We’re here today to talk about predictions for 2022 and how will customer experience shape the global EV rollout? My name is Neal Bartram, the CEO of ICON Communication Centres, and I’m here as your host with Dr. Michael Zdanowski, a leading low carbon expert based in the UK who advises organisations on transition to net zero. Now, Michael has worked across the EV sector and last year conducted a series of in-depth interviews with nearly 50 UK EV drivers in collaboration with transport research organisations New Automotive, EVA England and Octopus Energy. Michael, absolutely great to have you on here. Welcome.

 

Michael Zdanowski Thanks very much, Neal. Really delighted to be able to speak to you today.

 

Neal Bartram Excellent. I guess the first question that really interests me is where are we in the EV rollout in Western Europe?

 

Michael Zdanowski Yeah. Well, firstly, Neal, the great news is that the that there were rising levels of easy adoption across Europe, and there’s clear evidence that this EV adoption has been accelerated by a number of elements. I mean, we’ve been living with a global pandemic for nearly two years. And so people are questioning elements of their lifestyle and actually moving to EVs. There’s been a movement, particularly over the last 18 months, two years accelerated by cop, perhaps, and a heightened concern for the environment where people are actually choosing an easy because they want to live more sustainably and they can see the damage that an internal combustion engine vehicle with all the bits polluting fumes are doing to that local environment, as well as at a sort of global level. And I think from my research, what really comes out of interviews I conducted with with nearly 50 drivers late last year is that monthly fees are simply a better product and driving experience. People are starting to realise that ice vehicles, internal combustion vehicles, with that gears and all the moving parts, the noise, the expensive servicing and the pollution are actually a bit of a pain to drive and compared to back to the smooth driving experience of iPads. And really, it’s a bit of a no brainer to look at EVs. I the other perspective I’d like to draw out is cost on a service level, certainly in the UK and much of Western Europe. It often costs around £300, maybe €400 to service a nice vehicle, whereas for an EPA, it’s perhaps only 60 pounds or 80 euros. So the costs are much lower. And we’re living in a time where we’re increasingly aware of the cost of energy and actually petrol and gas diesel is at an all time high. And therefore, by going investing in any way, you can actually reduce those costs quite significantly. And this is a real compelling reason for for consumers to look at it. And the data that’s coming out globally and looking at 2021 sales in comparison to policies is really encouraging. So there have been six million TV zones globally this year. That’s 83 percent over 20 and an overall 160 percent increase on 2019 sales. And just this past month, we look at the UK. Sales of 19 percent of vehicles sold in the UK in November were pure EVs. This is remarkable, really, really encouraging plugging vehicles represented 28 percent of the market in November and an overall, if you look at it, over just over 50 percent of vehicles in the UK market are now now come with the plug. So there are three peas or hybrids. So, you know, in public discourse, people talk about EVs being the future while the future is actually now and overall in the UK in 2021, sales of zero emission cars are up 89 per cent compared to 2020. And this is also reflected in terms of electric fenders and also electric cars. Are there other modes of electric transport like motorcycles?

 

Neal Bartram While there are some really compelling statistics, I mean, that is, I mean, you know, 19 percent of new vehicle sales, twenty almost twenty-eight a little more and twenty eight percent having batteries. That’s really, I guess, incredible news from my side because, you know, looking at it, you know, the simplicity and the increased simplicity versus the, you know, the ICE vehicles is is just such a clear win. And it’s really nice to see that, I guess people are starting to see the benefits that that can really lead for them and just the general superiority of that electric vehicle. I mean, from what you’ve from what you’ve described, you know, electric vehicle, the electric vehicle argument is pretty compelling. You know, I guess the first thing that pops to my mind when you when you shoot those statistics is the future is now, as you said, because there’s a lot more adoption of what is really happening here. It certainly surprises me the statistics. I didn’t realise that the UK was that far ahead with with EVs. I guess really, what that brings to mind is, I guess, what are the barriers to further EV roll out in Western Europe? What stops that from being 50 percent, 60 percent or 100 percent?

 

Michael Zdanowski Yeah, I mean, look near where we’re moving from a world of hydrocarbons to a world dominated by electrons. So that trend transition is that it’s not going to happen overnight and there are going to be many bumps in the road. And in terms of those barriers, specifically across different countries, particularly in the EV infrastructure is lumpy. And there’s even descriptions of a two speed Europe, and that’s clearly not what we want. Analysis by the ACA, published earlier this year in June, shows that 70 percent of all EV charging stations in the EU are actually concentrated in just three countries the Netherlands, with around sixty-six thousand charging points, France with around 45000 charging points and Germany with forty four thousand points outside of the EU. We obviously know Norway is is way ahead of all of the other European countries with 64 percent EV penetration. However, you’ve got countries that are just way behind in that EV rollout. And again, it’s relates to charging because if you don’t have the chargers, there is not the confidence amongst the public in those respective countries to invest in in electric vehicles and electric vehicles still are slightly higher in price on average than an ice vehicle. So if you don’t have the charging infrastructure, people have less confidence to buy in the UK. And I’ll just point out a couple of examples. So Romania, in eastern Europe, it’s six times the size of the Netherlands, but it’s only got around 500 charging points in the entire country. So if you were to invest in in the UK, you definitely need a charger at home because there’s not much public infrastructure and this. This trend is also seen in other countries, including Poland, which has got very, very few charges. Spain is also a bit of a laggard, so there’s this issue of public charging is absolutely at the root of the EV rollout and aligned to that. There’s no doubt that the infrastructure around public charging that needs to be in place. So what what does public charging actually look like? Is it the current model, which is often sort of tumour free charging points, often in an area of the public car park, sort of hidden away, sometimes with bad lighting? What does good look like? Is it charging points at a service station such as in the UK where we serve, which delivers electric solutions, including remote low carbon power actually launched? I think it was late last year about this time last year, a huge charging station in iMessage in Essex with around 30 charges. So the picture we get. Particularly around Europe is a is a very lumpy picture of the infrastructure. And I think ultimately, unless we standardise solutions such as payments, charging make it as easy as it’s possible for the consumer. It makes it it makes it more of a difficult decision for consumers to decide to go electric. So we need to raise standards, standardise on equipment and technology and make things as easy as possible for for the for the European consumer. The good news is that governments across Europe, including the European Commission itself, the European Union, are looking at this standardisation. So this is happening. Payment systems are being made easier, more standardised, more consistent, and this whole be infrastructure pieces is being taxed in much more detail.

 

Neal Bartram Yeah, I mean, I can imagine I wouldn’t be very confident, you know, driving my electric vehicle all that far if I knew I had to make it home in order to charge it again. And that’s certainly, you know, would be a barrier to entry for me as a consumer. And I guess that really, I can absolutely see how that’s just a really major factor in making that rollout successful.

 

Michael Zdanowski Yeah, absolutely. And that’s the key point, because the the electric vehicles on the on the market actually now have the range. It’s a common public misconception that electric vehicles run out of power after 50 kilometres. They don’t. You’ve got new models on the market that are consistently delivering 300 350 even 400 kilometres before on a single charge. So the average driver in Western Europe on a daily basis drives around about 20 to 25 kilometres per day. So if you have a vehicle that can do 300 kilometres range like some of the high end models, certainly the test flights of this world, then you know you can. You don’t. Why? Why would you look at an ice vehicle if you don’t have the charging infrastructure, then then you don’t have the confidence to make that investment. I think one of the other barriers actually believe it or not, is electricity, because electricity is also becoming more expensive. And perhaps what we’re going to see in 2022 is more focussed on the price of electricity because as we move from hydrocarbons to electrons, people will be weighing up the costs of that transition. And just earlier this week, and so really high prices in the European energy market of 300 euros per megawatt hour of energy electricity come out of Western Europe. So will there be an argument in 2022 around actually electricity being very expensive alongside petrol? So it’s a really, really interesting dynamic. So I think in in short, in 2022, we need to smooth out the lumpy charging networks across Europe and see much more government coordination to step up, but also private sector leading with innovative solutions that are focussed on the consumer.

 

Neal Bartram Yeah. Okay, cool. See, I guess I certainly I certainly hear your mike your message around the roller coaster of the electricity market here in Europe. I’m sure that’s doing the Eve rollout absolutely no favours and putting a lot of question marks in people’s minds as far as where is that going to go? We’ve certainly seen similar things with petrol in the past, but what seems to be happening right now with with electricity is is somewhat unprecedented, at least in my memory. So really, I guess. But with all these gaps and with all these roller coasters, I guess that’s always where it presents an opportunity for businesses, right? And opportunity for businesses to step in and fill that void and take advantage.

 

Michael Zdanowski Absolutely. And you’re seeing EV infrastructure change almost on a on a daily basis now. And that gives us really good grounds for optimism because the market is stepping up and they’re listening to consumers and consumers of feeding back and giving some really good advice to these companies that that actually having three charges with two of them unusable in a public car park is not enough. And what I see the future for 2022 in years to come is that actually there is a competitive advantage for areas or places like shopping centres or cinemas or out of town sort of retail centres to install best in class charging to attract people to come in and shop or go to the cinema or take leisure activities. So actually, what you’re seeing is this shift where retail parks and cinemas, et cetera, are starting to install best in class charging solutions and with easy payment systems. And that really means that these these are the shopping centres, cinemas, et cetera. Leisure facilities can attract people and EV drivers who know that they can charge that their vehicle whilst they do their shopping or say, See the latest film. So I think no real, really good grounds for optimism. And you can tell that the market is changing because it’s consolidating. You’ve got new technology players entering the market, finding really interesting niches in terms of payment systems or, you know, charge easy charging solutions. You’ve got companies that then actually inform the consumer the driver about what are the best places to charge are and how many of those charges are working. So the scrutiny on the sector is is increasing, and I think that’s really, really encouraging.

 

Neal Bartram Yeah, I mean, that makes a lot of sense. I mean, I guess if I were driving around town as part of my my daily job and I could, you know, stop at a shopping centre, get my charge in at the same time, knock out the Christmas shopping for my wife. I think, you know, that’s that’s pretty compelling.

 

Michael Zdanowski Yeah, absolutely. And some of the the drivers I spoke to last year and also share one or two anecdotes with you. I basically didn’t pay for the fact that the charging that their electric vehicle said one gentleman I spoke to in he lived in central England, actually lived about three miles away from the major motorway north at the South North Motorway to the M1. And so he drove three miles down the road to the service station on the M1, which had free electricity free electric vehicle charging and would charge up his car so that we’re equals to whilst he waited 45 50 minutes or so. And he he said to me, I never paid for it for charging. So you can imagine the mode where shopping centres, cinemas etc will offer free electric vehicle charging as an incentive for people to come and and charge their vehicles. And it’s a really, really interesting and it’s this idea of disruption. Everything’s up in the air at the moment, and we’re only seeing a few of those pieces of the chessboard land. And I think in 2022, we’re going to see the chessboard fill up a little bit more with the right pieces in the right conditions on the board.

 

Neal Bartram Well, I can’t wait to see it because all those sound really, really encouraging the idea of me potentially not having to pay for any gas, but instead, you know, get some. Get some free, free mileage on my vehicle whilst, you know, maybe enjoying a snack or having my lunch certainly sounds like a like a fast. Fantastic opportunity and really ultimately an incredible customer experience.

 

Michael Zdanowski Yeah, exactly. And I think this is really, really important. Gets to the heart of our conversation nowadays is the TV industry is putting the customer first now, and I don’t think that really is as been the central element for much of the sector’s evolution. It is listening to consumers now and is acting on on, on their feedback, and that’s really, really important.

 

Neal Bartram Yeah, absolutely. And I guess just in general, you know, the customer experience associated with this entire Eve rollout is just going to be absolutely critical in getting it right. You know, I guess, you know, just the ease of use, the simplicity, you know, all those things are just absolutely critical to the rollout of any emerging product, any new product. So, you know, that’s just going to be an absolute essential element in order to roll this out quickly, successfully and to have it really go the way that these businesses want to be. I think we all know that it just takes one bit of negative feedback from a from a friend, from a neighbour about how difficult it was in comparison to how easy it was. That really puts a lot of doubt in people’s heads and makes it hesitant for them to jump, you know, and put their foot in that in that pond. So I mean, obviously that, you know, that customer experience is really going to be critical. And I guess the same way that that negative feedback goes, the positive goes the same way. The second that my neighbours telling me, he went and had lunch and got a free charge, you know, that’s that’s really that’s making me think I need to get in there. I need to do that. So I guess really, that’s it’s going to be a really big role.

 

Michael Zdanowski Yeah. So this gets to the heart of the whole leaf roll out, which is changing fixed mindsets into flexible mindsets. We’ve all had the fixed mindset of an internal combustion engine vehicle for 100 plus years. You fill your car up with petrol, you burn it, you go back to the petrol station, you fill up again, and that’s how it works. And now we’re disrupting that model with a better form of transport. That’s cleaner. That’s not as noisy, that’s easier for driving and is also much, much better for the environment. So really, we’re moving from trying to we’re trying to disrupt those fixed minds and help the consumer have a more flexible approach to trips. And I think that customer experience element is key to that. So flipping that question to you now, what does customer experience fit into the roll? I mean, how important is it?

 

Neal Bartram Yeah. And I guess I mean, and that really is a good question, and I guess the simple answer is absolutely critical, right? It’s just it’s just absolutely critical. I mean, you know, many people will have never charged an electric vehicle. They’ll, you know, they’ll be going to that charging station for the first time, maybe having rented it to test it first. And they’ll be some some, you know, some concern there. Do I know how to do this? I need to teach myself how to do this. So I think the ease of use of all these products and the customer experience associated with it is is going to be make or break for the brands themselves and the companies that are rolling those out. Because, you know, the companies that have that that are just in the market with everyone understanding how easy they are to use, there’s a great word of mouth about how good their support is, about the fact that you don’t need the support in the first place. That’s going to make all the difference in which companies are ultimately successful and which ones, you know, struggle to make it in this emerging market. I mean, I guess we all know that, you know, any time that someone’s doing something new. If it if it goes poorly, that doesn’t bode well for the future. Whereas if it goes well, you know that that really has a tendency to to really cascade and snowball into a lot more people adopting.

 

Michael Zdanowski Yeah, that’s absolutely right. And I think I think you’re you’re right in the sense that people around the world would expect a smooth transition from petrol diesel vehicles to an EPA. And as part of that, they’ll expect the whole infrastructure around charging, payment, choosing or maybe even renting an easy to be seamless from from day one. And I think that’s why I see that comes into it and is could be actually central to the success and acceleration of the rollout. And I think this is particularly the case when when people are deeply sceptical in some quarters around transitioning to you here in the U.K. and also I know. Some of those markets where there are existing large car manufacturers know there’s often scepticism about moving from these petrol diesel vehicles that we’ve produced for over 100 years to something completely new. So I think customer experience is absolutely central to it because it’s not just the fact that you buying a new vehicle, it’s a new mode of charging, whether it’s at a shopping centre or supermarket or charging at home, how you pay for it, how you interact with your car, even how you may service it. So this creates huge opportunities for companies wanting to to to outsource some of that technical support sales account management to multilingual B2B customer experience centres. So I guess what are the what are the things that kids can deliver for the EV sector, Neal?

 

Neal Bartram Yeah, I mean, I think, you know, with just with the understanding that it’s going to be critical that that customer experience is right. I think I think there’s quite a few areas that that that popped to mind. I think the first is and I think all of these, all of the things hold true for both B2B and for B2C, whether it be, you know, a business to business interaction or a business to consumer interaction. I think one of the key elements is going to be really proactively soliciting feedback to understand the strengths and weaknesses of the offering. There’s just no way for for any business to understand how this market is going to evolve, how it’s going to progress, moving from people who are super keen to do it to people who are slightly keen to people who are absolutely reluctant and going into it because it’s starting to be something they’re forced into. How that progresses, the challenges that the people have and what that means for the customer experience is going to be very dynamic. It’s going to be changing. The technology is going to change. And so I think making sure that there’s a really good ability to solicit feedback proactively from customers is going to be the only way to succeed. I can imagine someone going up to a charging station. We all know. Not everybody complains when something’s wrong, right? I can imagine going to a charging station. The first one doesn’t work. I can tell you what I’m going to do. I’m going to pull up the next one. And if that works, I’m probably not going to mention it to anybody. So I think getting that, you know, proactive feedback to say my experience wasn’t great. And what are your charging stations? Does it work? Those kind of things are going to be absolutely essential to making sure that that a company is successful in their rollout and that overall the, you know, the EV rollout itself really succeeds. So I think that’s the big one is is soliciting feedback because in any evolving market that isn’t stationary, you can’t wait for people to give you feedback. It just takes too long. You have to go out and get that feedback proactively. So I think that’s that’s really the first thing that I think any company in this in this sector should really be focussing on. And I guess right along with that is continuous improvement. I mean, using not only that solicited feedback, but also any sort of, you know, customer service interaction because, you know, to generate that into a continuous feedback mechanism because, you know, the companies that have a really good process as far as analysing what went wrong, what do we need to improve and looking at those customer service interactions as something where, wow, this is an opportunity, something went wrong. This is an opportunity for us to do better and having a cycle where they’re not just not just chasing every single thing that didn’t maybe go quite right, but having a really thorough and systematic approach to understand which one of these things should we go after first? What’s going to give us the best return on investment and how do we improve use our resources to improve the most with the least right? And I think having both of those things in place simultaneously is going to differentiate brands it will drive some brands to to really struggle, while others will just lead the way and have such a positive word of mouth. And I think, you know, brands or companies can often want to be doing those things right, but they’re not always doing those things right. And I think that is where having the right outsourced partner to help you do those things in the best possible way, using their expertise can just make a world of difference as far as the positive customer experience to your brand. Because those are things that outsourcers like us do all the time and we’re incredibly familiar with. And you know, there’s not a company that we come across or even for that matter, any of our own, you know, processes that we come across that can’t be improved. So I think having that experience, you know, with with with the right partner is going to be really quite important for companies. I think the other thing that I would say is it’s a matter of using the right technology with the right level of automation. And at the same time, having the right calibre of people to support that. You know, I think this is an area that so many companies don’t get right. You know, the A.I. that they’ve deployed is a is a hindrance for for the people that that are interacting with it. They view it as a barrier to get to a person, whereas when deployed right, it can be something that just massively improves the customer experience because it gives them something faster that no human could give them at that speed. And it’s just always there. It’s always available. So I think having the right, the right technology deployed, not over deploying it, not under deploying it, but using it correctly and having the right people to support it is critical because when you start to deploy technology like that, the peop every single person that you have in your organisation behind that deployment is is more influential. They’re more critical because they have to understand what that technology is doing and how you can better shape it to to support that customer experience. So you really need a higher calibre of person if you’re going to roll out that technology, right? Because behind it, no matter how much technology is there behind it is people those people are deploying and those people are to prove, you know, improving it. So there really is that really is important.

 

Neal Bartram We see technology in, say, the automotive sector used to incredible success, right? If we take just the parking apps that I use, I mean, it’s changed the game. As far as how I park, I hop out of my car, I pop on my app, I click two buttons. I select which vehicle I’m driving. I pay for my parking. You know, it geo locates exactly where I’m at. I select, Yes, that is the right location. And off I go, you know, I’m sitting in my meeting. It reminds me I got a it’s running over, so I got to pay for 30 more minutes. I, you know, I sit there and I click it. It’s it’s a game changer from a customer experience perspective. And I think with all the apps and different things that are associated with a lot of these products, there’s an opportunity for for, you know, for companies in this sector to do exactly that. In some cases, maybe take advantage of existing apps, right? Maybe they can, you know, get coordinated in with a parking app, make it, you know, you pay for your parking, you pay for your your charge. It’s it’s all there in one. So I think there’s how how companies cleverly use technology and doing it right is important. And then there’s so many automations that can be behind it, you know, I mean, it might be as simple as rebooting a machine automatically when there’s, you know, when there’s certain types of issues. The customer says, Hey, I’m having this issue where rebooting the machine automated message, there it goes. So I think there’s just so many different automation technologies that can really go into just changing completely the experience that a customer has, because it’s not going to be good enough to just slap a one 800 number on the side of these charging stations, people are going to be expecting more. And now these charging stations are so often unmanned. Right, OK? Some of them might be at the petrol station, but as you said, some are just sitting there in a car park there, you know, there’s no one there to help you. And that’s that’s where the customer experience is going to be. All the more critical.

 

Michael Zdanowski Absolutely. And you know, and it’s just really reassuring to know, Neal, that the CX industry is there to to support these essentially technology companies to to deliver best in class technical solutions and another aspect of support. So really, really encouraging. I guess one one thing we haven’t touched on is cost in this whole Leavey rollout. We know that a lot of people are sort of put off from buying EVs because that’s a little bit more expensive. That cost is coming down. And actually, I think that with the infrastructure being put in place, the costs for charging are becoming more transparent and actually cheaper in some instances. But how can these six industry help these companies in the EV space? Technology companies the app provide is how can they benefit from cost savings in six?

 

Neal Bartram Yeah, that’s a great question. And I guess the the answer to that is that, you know, the right. Outsource partner, right, has a lot of experience and take in an existing support operation and a support infrastructure and through the course of time, as far as, you know, better processes, feedback even to development team to, you know, to to to marketing teams, to, you know, to web teams, you know, as well as deployment of technology, you know, better processes on the customer support side, actually creating a situation where you need less people to support that, you’re relying a little bit more on technology in cases less on people, it becomes more efficient and you end up with a better customer experience at a reduced cost because you know, someone who really has tried, failed, succeeded. Try it again. You know, with that, with that real life experience can come in and assess how things are going and give that professional feedback to to slim down the operational costs. So I think, you know, slimming down operational cost, but not just cost, but at the same time really genuinely improving the customer experience and making a company, you know, more more able to to grow at scale and at pace because there don’t need to grow as much with people because there’s good processes and good systems in place where you don’t need to add a person for every X number of vehicles it is or X number of stations. So I think that is where, you know, the right outsource partner can make a massive difference. And I think the other area is helping to really hyper personalise that customer experience, right? I think one of the massive opportunities that Eve has is in just doing better than than anything that’s been there in the past by really personalising it. Meaning, you know, when a customer needs assistance, you already know where they are. You already know, are they and customers that the business contacting you has that charging station had it issues before? What was that issue? Has the customer had issues before? Maybe there’s been issues with their vehicle, you know, and the charging, maybe there are new new user, their first time user and potentially after that that that experience you need to give them. Hey, look, here’s here’s a top five things that you might want to know to just make your life easier. Here’s here’s some little tips and tricks as far as what makes any EV owner’s life easier. And I think that kind of hyper personalised experience, which there is the ability to deliver today, and especially in exactly this market segment, it is so possible to deliver that, you know, even even connecting home charging, remote charging your vehicle itself, it’s possible to really know who’s the driver, what’s the vehicle, where are they at? And really just be 10 steps ahead of anything that that customer, you know, maybe is expecting, but really to give them more than they expect. And again, just kind of support their decision to go Eevee.

 

Michael Zdanowski Yeah, that’s a fantastic point around how the CX industry can help to collate use and playback data to to be companies and helping them to personalise their offer thing. That’s an absolutely great point. And I wanted to just bring up a point that we touched upon earlier about this lumpy sort of ebb out in in in Western Europe or across Europe. I guess, you know, how can six help companies penetrate new markets across Europe if some of them are really super developed in terms of charging infrastructure like Germany, France, Netherlands? And then you’ve got other countries like Spain or Poland with very few charges, you know? Is there a role for the action in enabling companies in the space to penetrate new markets?

 

Neal Bartram I mean, absolutely. I mean, you know, when you talk about customer experience, oftentimes, you know, people are thinking support experience, right? But that customer experience that starts from, you know, it exists in B2B, it exists in B2C. So in many cases, that would really be with business development, right? It could be with business development to helping to develop. What is the proposition to this parking garage, to this movie theatre? How are we developing those contacts and how are we selling that out? And that is something that you know a lot of companies can use really support with. They are potentially incredible at developing a charging station, but does their expertise lie in sales? Does their expertise lie in business development and often cases? The answer is no. And you know, I think having the right outsourced. Partner to help you with all the elements of your business that you are not an expert at that they specialise, it can really transform your business. So I think when I look at the, you know, Spain and the fact that you said there’s I mean, I don’t remember it was it was it was a very sad number or very sad percentage of of of of EV know charging stations. And there is definitely a place for for the right outsource partner to help a company absolutely take advantage of that market space for business development and sales. Because, you know, it’s it’s a market opportunity that’s sitting there. And I can imagine there’s quite a few companies who make an excellent charging station, but there’s got to be a reason why those aren’t deployed. And then that’s I guess, where where people like us to help.

 

Michael Zdanowski Yeah, absolutely. And I know the the industry, having everyone worked in it for some time is huge. People think it’s just all about the OEMs creating the vehicle itself. But actually, as discussed, it’s, you know, there are so many different ways that the infrastructure needs to be set up and aligned in terms of, you know, charging partners or even service stations turning into all electric service stations, the payments to the ChargePoint manufacturers. But I guess in six is ever an ideal partner in the TV industry for four, four six or is it is the opportunity so wide that you essentially could work with that the whole, the whole sector itself?

 

Neal Bartram So I mean, I think I think in general, for anyone looking for a right fit partner to help them deploy their easy, what they are looking for is someone with experience in technology, right? It is very important that that right partner has that experience in in in technology, software, hardware, in support and sales and all the aspects of that. Because you don’t want to just go with someone who does everything, you don’t want to go with someone who is trying to be that be all, you know, a person you want a company that really specialises in technology and hardware and software and in sales support. So you want that really nice niche. And you know, there’s a lot of niche players such as ICON who who can fill that need. And it’s really important to find that partner that specialises in that technology sector rather than just going with any partner. Because there is a very big difference between, you know, selling movie theatre tickets, you know, and selling, you know, a piece of electrical hardware or in supporting either of those things.

 

Michael Zdanowski Yeah. And how important is that technical knowledge then? And you know, you’ve got agents in Prague and around the world. I mean, how important is that technical knowledge to to help the customer and to make sure you’re delivering for your your clients? Yeah, I mean,

 

Neal Bartram Having the right amount of technical knowledge is is absolutely essential. And I think there’s it’s about having that right level when you’re a, you know, if you’re doing sales or business development, you know, you don’t need to be developing the product. You need to have that right match of sales skills and technical aptitude. When it comes to support, it’s exactly the same thing. You don’t particularly need every single person in your support group to be an absolute technology expert. You need to have the right balance so that you’re adjusting and having the right cost for what is happening. So I think it is very important that that technical skill, knowledge and expertise already exists within your chosen partner, but also that they’re not just trying to deploy nothing but technology people with the highest level of technology at any solution that’s out there. Because the right solution is always a mix and balance of, you know, the right technology, the right customer, the right technical, technological experience, the right background and education, the right practical experience, but also the right customer service experience.

 

Michael Zdanowski Absolutely. Yeah, and he’s just really great to know that he’s is there with the right technical expertise to deliver for the sector because, I mean, you know, the direction of travel is only going to go one way. And one thing we’ve we’ve not really talked about on this podcast is is the fact that actually there are a number of government mandates based at the national level, maybe even international level with the European Union looking at this to make sure that actually we phase out petrol and diesel vehicles as quickly as possible. And in the UK, the date is 2030 30. So after a while from the 1st of January 20 30, you’ll no longer be able to buy a petrol or diesel vehicle. So, you know, electric vehicles are going to be here with us, whether we like it or not. Of course, there’ll be some people in their legacy vehicles driving around their Jaguar E-Type. I’m sure for many decades to come. But the direction of travel is clear, and so you know how big an opportunity? Well, I’ll rephrase it. Do you think the opportunity is for the EV sector to work with six and utilise six? Or do you see it more from the sex industry? You can can support the sector in its goals of accelerating the rollout.

 

Neal Bartram Yeah, I mean, I guess the way that I see it is that I think that the, you know, the companies within this EV sector that find the right partner with the right expertise are going to create a partnership at a symbiotic relationship that just benefits the both of them. It will end up at that company is more successful and at the scope and scale that that this market has to grow. You know that that is obviously also going to benefit, you know, the the the the organisations which are helping enrich the partners, helping with that customer experience. So I think, you know, in in large part, I see it as being a massively symbiotic relationship. And I think that the, you know, the partners that just look, I think the people in the industry are the companies in the industry that just look for an outsourced partner to just, you know, do the support, answer the phone, you know, get get it done, make this go away from us. I think they’ll be losing. And I think that, you know, the industries and the companies within the EV sector who really embrace a partner, you know, make that and make them a part of their business and take them along that journey so that they can both grow and and drive the sector. I think those will be the companies that really succeed because their customer experience and their ability to roll out at pace will be massively magnified. And I think those those are the ones that will succeed. So I guess it’s I really see it as when there’s the right partnership in the right symbiotic relationship. I think that’s where it will succeed. I think there will be instances where in general, the CX industry is going to help the industry massively because, you know, I think the companies that start to succeed in the industry will have that incredible customer experience. I really believe that they’re the ones that are going to succeed. And I think that the ones that succeed the most are the are going to be the ones that have that right. That partner

 

Michael Zdanowski Brilliant. And I completely agree with you in your assessment that there will be winners and losers on this, on this journey as it were, because of course, you know, those we’re already in in a way sort of seeing it because those car manufacturers that have made that transition early to electric vehicles are ahead of the game. If you look at tests that I think currently it’s it’s the world’s most highly valued company or certainly in the top tier, along with sort of Amazon and Google, but it’s a it’s a one trillion dollar company. And that’s because the market has seen the value of Teslas and have seen that Teslas are such a great product. And any you know, Musk, whether you like it or not, has redefined mobility for the for the 21st century. But if you break that down on a sort of other levels, it means that there are going to be losers and an existing car. Manufacturers that haven’t made that transition are also losing. And I think you’re absolutely right. If you if you go down several several layers and look at the whole industry itself, the industry is going to need to have that, that seamless transition, a great offer in terms of every touchpoint with the with the consumer. So yeah, I completely got that and it’s just really reassuring that the industry is there. Reddy has the technical expertise can help to the industry to to grow into other markets at speed, and I think that will be particularly important. Looking ahead to 2022, when so many of us are looking at a different mobility options?

 

Neal Bartram Yeah, I mean, absolutely, I think I mean, you just EV is such a clear rapidly, you know, growing market. It’s an emerging market. And you’re right, because of the regulations, because of the, you know, the things that have been put in place. It is only going one direction. And that’s for sure. And I think there’s there’s a lot of of players within the industry who recognise that and are on board early, you know, using that technical expertise, that sales expertise, the the customer support expertise and the rest of it, you know, getting in early and are going to benefit massively as the as the growth of this industry just continues to snowball.

 

Michael Zdanowski One final question from my side, Neal, because I’m going to grill, you understand. But how many things are there in in Prague and Czech Republic? Do you see them? Quite a lot on the on the streets? Is it do you get the sense that people are transitioning or people still sort of weighing up the pros and cons and taking a bit of time to make them on that?

 

Neal Bartram You know, it’s exactly the picture that you painted where it’s spotty. I mean, I can say that right outside the building here, there’s a strip of of of the charging stations in the parking lot here at the office. So, you know, they’re in the parking garage below. So for me, I see a lot more electric vehicles than than probably someone who doesn’t work in this office building when you get further outside of Prague. It’s exactly what you described. It’s spotty, right? You’re going to have to really be searching for a charging station. You’re going to have to be charged at your house and it’s not the same level. But I tell you what that is one bit of homework that I’m going to take from this is I’m going to have to do a little bit of research to figure out exactly where the Czech Republic fits here, because my perception of it is, is, I think, warped a little bit into thinking that it’s maybe a little more prevalent than it really is because certainly, you know, when I get outside of Prague, you know, I start going to the cottage for the weekend. Whatever else it may be, the electric vehicles disappear off the map.

 

Michael Zdanowski Right? So, yeah, well, I’m looking forward very much to seeing the the analysis there, Neal. And certainly speaking from the UK perspective, I’ve seen increasing amounts of electric vehicles on the roads, and that’s just really encouraging. I live in an apartment block around about two hundred and fifty metres from a fairly busy A-roads and which throws up takes up a lot of pollution when you’ve got lots of cars, ice vehicles there, and thankfully there are more and more EVs. But I think to your point, I also live in a capital city in London, and I’m sure outside of London there are maybe a few electric vehicles, particularly in rural areas where people still rely on their big full buy for. And so, yeah, it’s interesting to see that sort of divergence of adoption across the across the continent.

 

Neal Bartram I mean, I can say that I have seen quite a few, quite a few more vehicles, surprisingly in the parking garage because I don’t hear them coming. So it’s definitely it’s definitely increasing here. I’m just curious what exactly that pace is at.

 

Michael Zdanowski Absolutely.

 

Neal Bartram Awesome. Well, thank you so much, Michael. I really appreciate so much. You joining us today. It’s been it’s been a fantastic conversation. And your insight, as always, is is excellent. Your industry knowledge is fantastic, so we appreciate having you on.

 

Michael Zdanowski You’re very welcome. I really enjoyed speaking to you today, Neal.

Please get in touch with me directly on LinkedIn here if you want to discuss these ideas further. Interested in learning more about electric vehicle customer experience solutions? Please contact ICON’s Mark Matthews.

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