From Pushing Metal to Self-Flying: Finding the Customer’s Voice

April 22, 2021

By Jeannie Lam, Wisk’s Director of Strategy

Before I dive into the “business” of self-flying air taxis, it’s important to understand the importance of infusing the customers’ voice, needs, and wants into key business strategy, marketing, product and go-to-market decisions. Proper customer research and customer satisfaction tracking that is used to deliver or improve a customer experience is critical to customer retention and the long-term success of a product or service. Whether it is the procurement of research or the application of insights to corporate strategy, innovation, product development or launch efforts, the voice of the customer and ensuring it is part of the process is critical whether you are a start-up or large corporation.

To bring this concept into a practical example, let’s look at an example in the “pushing metal” industry of the automotive world. Hopefully this will shed light on simple a-ha moments and the importance of consumer insight:

In 2007, LEAF was announced internally at Nissan. While many employees took 50 steps back, a few took 500 steps forward. In addition to convincing the sales and marketing teams to support the vehicle, there was the task of convincing the executive team and management team. Internal combustion vehicles (ICE… or gas-powered) were the safe bet for investing energy and company resources. The thought of shifting to an electric vehicle was met with “are you insane?” Luckily, Nissan’s Chairman in the US was part of the small group that took 500 steps forward and became a champion of the concept.

But the question remained: who in the world would want to purchase or lease this type of vehicle?! Well, this question clearly spelled out an opportunity to evaluate what consumers thought. A series of consumer research studies were conducted on a range of topics from upper funnel awareness, opinion, and familiarity, down to product evaluation and finding the right cup holders. The results helped to shape not only the vehicle itself but also the go-to-market strategy, addressing key issues from range anxiety to developing EV infrastructure at the city level. Ultimately, customer research was one of the most critical elements in translating a revolutionary vision into one of the most prolific EVs in the market today.

At Wisk, we’re using customer research in many similar ways to Nissan. We’re infusing the customer voice throughout our product and go-to-market strategy, from aircraft design and configuration, to customer journey and experience. We recognize that engaging consumers early on is absolutely critical, given that we’re not only introducing a new autonomous “vehicle” but also a new form of mobility that’s fundamentally changing the way people move and interact on a daily basis.

While it’s nice to produce whitepapers and use research as a marketing element, our objective goes much deeper. At the core of our research efforts is a desire to truly understand consumer sentiment, proactively address concerns, and ensure that the product we bring to market is accessible and appealing to all consumers.

We recently concluded our latest round of customer research and have outlined the key findings in: Autonomous UAM: Taking Mobility to New Heights. This report looks at consumer sentiment toward autonomous, electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) air taxi services and provides an overview of the drivers behind adoption, interest from consumers, and expectations, along with key considerations for manufacturers, riders, and communities. Specifically, the whitepaper looks at consumer feedback on commuting changes (both during and post-pandemic), top transportation pain points, appeal and likelihood to use a self-flying air taxi, consumer expectations, and use cases.

We hope that this blog and the report will show the value we place on customer feedback and we encourage all future flyers to share their thoughts with us by sending us a message or engaging on social!