RepairSmith - Case Study
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Project Context

Daimler-Benz came to BCG Digital Ventures with a project to identify new opportunities in the automotive market and ultimately design, build, and launch MVP digital products.

Over the span of a year, what started off as a nebulous pitch idea was able to launch as RepairSmith, a two-sided auto repair marketplace platform.
I. The Overview

THE ASK

Through a series of ideation workshops and concept pitches, Daimler-Benz and BCG DV came up with an idea to launch a company. The idea behind this company was an end-to-end car service platform that gives control back to car owners by helping them understand their repair and maintenance needs, select the right workshop and manage their future repairs.

It was our task to help validate, design and build this.

My Role

I came on to the team as the second designer when the team was comprised of approximately 15 members ranging from venture architects, growth hackers, product managers and engineers. From there, the team grew to 45 full-time members as the project scope evolved and expanded.

Specifically, I led the product design workflow on the ISP (Individual Service Provider) platform of the product. I was responsible and assisted on the following:
  • Designing UX and UI elements for development
  • Drive product design in product definition
  • Testing design concepts and usability
  • Define customer personas and story
  • Ethnographic research
  • Advocating for design thinking to team

PROJECT SCOPE

For this venture, I was brought on during what we call an "MVP Definition phase" where we worked on identifying and validating the MVP product scope through a series of prototyping and user testing. This led into an "Incubation phase" where we worked in development and design sprints to deliver and ultimately launch a live MVP product in market.
II. The Design Process

MVP DEFINITION

In this phase before jumping into development, we took time to define the MVP features and assess product market fit through rigorous user testing. From the product side, our responsibilities were to:
  • Define product brief, user stories, and epics for the MVP product through concept testing and validation
  • Define the MVP product experience and identify primary user flows
  • Design and build end-to-end MVP product prototypes for user testing
  • Draw out information architecture
  • Asses and test any primary risks
  • Ethnographic research

INCUBATION / DEVELOPMENT

With a validated MVP plan, we moved into our incubation and build phase where we started to start designing and working with PMs/Engineers to work towards build benchmarks. We employed the following methodologies to ensure we were meeting goals and staying agile in the process.
Design/Development Sprints
We worked in 2-week sprints in tandem with our engineering and product team. As the design team, we aimed to be 1.5 sprints ahead of the technical build process so that we could have adequate time to go out, test our product and make necessary iterations.
Vertical Slices
We aimed to work lean and so we adopted a vertical slice methodology where we essentially broke up large features into several small pieces that sliced through each of the architectural layers. This helped us to help reduce wasted time and eliminate anything that wasn’t adding value. We only worked on what was absolutely needed at any given time.

USER TESTING

We incorporated user testing nearly every sprint to either validate some concepts or test usability of different features. This helped us determine which interactions made sense for different use cases. For example, we used usability testing to test out an auto-fill option against a drop-down list interaction when prompting users to fill in their car make model details. (note: We went for the drop-down list when we found users getting stuck when misspelling their car model)

We also held monthly focus groups with a group of car mechanics to gain a better understanding of the industry and have them test our MVP product at different stages. This helped immensely in ensuring we were designing with industry nuances in mind.
III. Product Design + Strategy

OUR SOLUTION

Through our concept testing and validation, we defined our MVP product as...

RepairSmith, a two-sided auto-repair marketplace platform to help connect post-warranty car owners and independent service shops and ultimately build the most convenient and trusted car repair and maintenance service. Specifically...
  • Post-warranty car owners are empowered with confidence in their car repair needs through repair knowledge, fair pricing, and connections to appropriate repair shops.
  • Independent service shops will receive quality leads and guaranteed payments through our platform, taking pressure off self-driven lead generation.

Car Owner Side PRODUCT DESIGNS

On the car owners side of the platform, we decided to design the MVP product of RepairSmith as a mobile web application as we found from our interviews that most of our users often searched for information on car repair services online through mobile devices. Additionally, with future plans to scale the product out to other forms, we felt that sticking to a mobile web app would most easily translate into responsive designs later.

Below are several highlight features:
Diagnosis Tree and Fair Price
One way we gave more transparency into car repair services was by providing a diagnosis tree for users to go through and find possible repairs for their issues. By taking it step by step, we found users were able to get a better understanding of their situation. Also, we used local data to give a “fair price” on the possible repairs to give the users more knowledge upfront and not be caught off guard with repair prices.
Certified RepairSmith Shops and Easy Payment
Payments was always a touchy and tricky topic to bring up with users, especially with so many of them feeling that they had been upsold to in the past with their car repairs. By certifying shops, we were able to reassure users of surprise costs, and by having an invoice confirmation to authorize payments, users felt more reassured and safe spending their money.

REPAIR Shop
Product Designs

We kept the repair shop side of the platform to desktop web app as our ethnographic research revealed that many of these car repair shops lacked sophisticated machines and usually had the bare minimum of running outdated software and access to the internet. The lack of sophisticated machines along with a highly fragmented auto shop software market was a huge driving force in my designs.

Below are several highlight features:
Accepting New Repair Requests
This repair request feature was designed to provide as much upfront information to the mechanics to determine whether or not they could accept the job. Although most mechanics didn’t take the possible repairs too seriously as they trusted their personal knowledge more, they enjoyed having upfront knowledge. Also, since we placed a time limit on these requests, we had to create a mobile-friendly request page to let mechanics accept jobs on the go in a timely fashion.
Invoicing and Suggested Repairs Response
I initially designed multiple variations of this invoice creation feature but mechanics kept on pushing back in tests saying that we weren’t offering enough functionality to keep up with existing invoice software. We moved to descope this into post-launch and create an upload invoice feature. Instead, we included a response to the suggested repairs to help drive our machine learning backend to offer smarter suggestions in the future.
Capturing Parts Pricing and Labor Rates
This was an important feature that we iterated on several times. We needed to capture repair shop pricing to properly display fair prices to customers. However, with so many nuances and shop specific methods to pricing, we had to look for a flexible method of capturing accurate numbers.

MARKETING

In addition to creating the product from the ground up, we also had to develop a marketing piece and original content to help drive our visibility with new customers. We partnered with a production company to create video pieces as shown below to raise our brand awareness and provide consumers with more knowledge.
IV. Next Steps

Post Launch

We were successful in launching RepairSmith as a venture-capital-backed start up. With just a MVP product out in the market, there is still so much room for iteration and product pivots to best meet the needs of users in the market.

After the launch, I was rolled off the project and handed off all assets and a comprehensive style guide to continue cohesive product design practices.

As a result of this experience, I learned the importance of user testing and embracing the iterative nature of MVP development. Features changed countless times but by listening to what our users said, the product design direction was able to stay true and purposeful.
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