Hyundai & CMT: Leveraging connected services through collaboration and partnerships

A fireside chat at AutoTech Detroit
June 15, 2023

At the AutoTech: Detroit conference, CMT and Hyundai spoke about our partnership designed to connect unconnected Hyundai customers by providing them with crash assistance in the MyHyundai Bluelink app in the future.

The fireside chat covered the benefits crash assistance provides for Hyundai customers, how connected customers are more loyal, the safety improvements from connecting more customers, and more.

Let’s get to the transcript.

Moderator: Welcome, gentlemen! Why don’t you start off with introductions and a bit of background?

Vijay: I’m Vijay. I’m responsible for the Connected Car and Owner App and Portal [at Hyundai]. This is the pane of glass that customers interact with other than the car itself. I’ve been in the connected car industry for the last six years, and it’s been a fantastic journey. Lots of developments and projects, but every year we are tasked to do more with less. And the only way it is possible to keep up with that pace of innovation is to build partnerships that will leverage each other’s strengths. OEMs face the constant threat from mobile providers such as Apple and Google of being either reduced or invalidated by their offerings in the car. And in fact, many of them have endeared themselves to the customer by projecting the app experience of the car as well. OEMs need to enhance their offerings to be on an equal footing with the mobile OS manufacturers, and that is done through partnerships. That is done by involving companies, such as CMT, to offer our customers extra value that the mobile app might be unable to provide.

Russell: First off, thanks for having me. A pleasure to be here. I am the Vice President of Strategic Accounts at Cambridge Mobile Telematics. Our core mission is to help make the world’s roads and drivers safer. That can mean a lot of things. For the purposes of this discussion, it’s around providing crash detection capabilities so that an OEM such as Hyundai can be at the scene of a crash, which is often a very anxious period of time. You can help get that customer down the path so they can get their vehicle repaired through a certified repair network and back on the road as quickly and seamlessly as possible.

More broadly, CMT enables driving feedback around the risks associated with driving. We work with insurance companies, auto manufacturers, telcos, and home safety providers to help engage with customers via mobile. We provide feedback to ensure you engage with the customer at the appropriate time and provide the right guidance to help them be better and safer on the roads. All OEMs have a mission to reduce crashes to zero. And CMT plays an active role with all manufacturers in efforts to do so.

Moderator: How did the partnership between Hyundai and Cambridge Mobile Telematics evolve? What’s the deliverable for Hyundai?

Vijay: The focus of the partnership started from wanting to reach all of our customers. We want to connect everyone. That includes folks that do not have our Bluelink system in their cars. Bluelink is our telematics offering. We were looking for partnerships that will help us connect the unconnected and provide customers value in the process. CMT’s mobile crash detection is going to be incorporated into our app. [Crash detection] is a value-add we’ll provide our customers. There will be crash detection and the subsequent workflow that comes after a crash. This is in addition to [existing app features such as] service scheduling, relevant help content, owner manuals, and recall notifications. This is extending our reach to all Hyundai customers and getting them more engaged. CMT provides the extra value of crash detection that we can add to our app.

Moderator: Can you explain how that works? What does the app do?

Russell: We harness the sensors of the phone using machine learning and artificial intelligence to detect when crashes occur. It involves fusing all the sensor data from the phone, which, as you can imagine, can be very noisy. But we’ve been at this for roughly four or five years, live in-market with over 20 programs globally at scale with millions of drivers. Through the insurance partnerships, we get claims data so we know the ground truth of crashes that occur and the severity of these crashes. This helps enhance and improve these models so that we can detect even more crashes, and we constantly iterate on this. We can also fuse connected vehicle data with our mobile data. This is in an effort to paint an even broader picture of what’s transpiring for customers with connected vehicles while also providing this life-saving service for those otherwise unconnected customers.

Moderator: You mentioned it’s a mobile app, so you’re incorporating that into your existing Hyundai mobile app. You also say it can pick up data from the vehicle sensors as well. How does that work?

Vijay: It’s two different sets of data. It is analyzed in the backend using the mobile app data as well as the car data. If it is connected, it will make sense of whether the car detected the crash and the mobile app didn’t, or if it was a less severe crash, the mobile app may have picked up, and the car didn’t. It’s essentially fusing two parts of data together to derive intelligence on what happened in the accident scenario.

Moderator: How sensitive is the mobile phone’s ability to detect that crash versus the data you’re getting from the vehicle? Can you do an analysis of that?

Russell: For the mobile phone, there are thresholds that we define within the crash models that we have. Since we’ve built these models based on the ground truth claims data, we can adjust these thresholds and balance the trade-off between potential false positives and true positive crash detections. When someone hears “false positive,” they may think, “What do you mean? It’s not perfect?” And it’s not perfect, but it doesn’t need to be perfect in order to provide value to the customer. Since crashes occur every six or seven years on average, if it was perfect, you would rarely get value from this capability. A timely false positive that was likely a near miss is a subtle reminder to your customer that you have their back. It further validates, provides value, and helps build brand loyalty for Hyundai. From the customer’s perspective, the fact that just because I don’t have a new connected vehicle doesn’t mean that they don’t care about me as a customer. I’m able to get value out of a service that helps enable me to be safe.

Moderator: You talked about being unconnected, which is basically customers that don’t have a connected vehicle. How are you approaching encouraging them to use this app feature? What motivates them to pick it up?

Vijay: Overall, a large percentage of customers have older vehicles and do not have the connectivity modem of Bluelink or, for whatever reason, have not connected to Bluelink. The engagement opportunities for these customers are limited. They have little use for the app. We also have not yet opened up the app for everyone. By providing [crash assistance] in the app, it provides an incentive for people to download and use it. Then it provides us an interface to now engage with the customers and provide more value. Most importantly, in a high-stress event, we are there with them to help them navigate through it. Connecting with everyone is the main goal. The more we are connected to our customers, the more recalls will be completed, the more service campaigns can be done. We can get customers into dealerships for high-quality repairs when needed. There is an overall value to the OEM, and there is mutual or greater value to the customer as well.

Moderator: Walk me through the experience in a high-stress situation. How is this app going to help? I’m assuming it’s during the crash. How does it work? What does it do?

Vijay: After a crash, the CMT module would detect that there is a potential crash and would send out a notification saying it has detected a possible crash, which then starts a workflow. Depending on the severity, the workflow could be different. If it was a severe crash – it could ask, “Do you need emergency services?” There could be a countdown timer if they don’t automatically patch in with the 911 operator. Or, if it’s a less severe crash, it could be focused on being there for the customer. If you want a tow, we can arrange for a tow or help you document the scene of the accident by taking photographs. It’s more like a checklist that will guide you through the steps you need to take so you’re out of that situation as positively as possible. You document the scene of the accident, arrange your tow, and then later on, you can look for certified repair shops to get your repair done and maybe, in the future, submit to insurance companies as a claim. It reduces friction across all these steps by making you go through a checklist of activities.

Moderator: Is this a free app?

Vijay: We have not yet figured out the exact economics of this, but the thinking is that it would be a free app for everyone.

Moderator: The benefit is clearly that it builds the relationship. Is there an anticipation that it increases loyalty?

Vijay: It does. We have seen that our current connected customers, on average, spend a certain percentage more with our company. We’ve also seen it is a better indicator for brand loyalty. Connected customers are more loyal to the brand. [Crash assistance] extends this to unconnected customers.

Russell: I think that’s an excellent point to look at the pivot that Hyundai is making to expand the mobile capabilities to their customers that are not connected, knowing that the loyalty is better on the connected customers. If you look across the auto industry and go to My Brand apps in the App Store, you can only use the app if you have a certain age vehicle. If you think of another industry like banking, it’s not like a bank is saying, “You haven’t been a customer since 2020, so you can’t use the app.” It’s an interesting dynamic where the auto industry is somewhat different than any other [industry] in that only if you have a certain vehicle year can you engage via mobile. CMT is enabling Hyundai to open it up and engage with everyone because the financial benefits of building brand loyalty and retention are priceless.

Vijay: We also have roadside assistance for every car we sell that lasts five years. Most people don’t realize that. They think it’s three years or whatever the connected car subscription is. So, [crash assistance] will also increase roadside assistance engagement, and hopefully, we’ll build better brand value.

Moderator: How are you planning to reach the unconnected customers? Is that through advertising?

Vijay: It’ll have to be a campaign. Right now, we have something called a “monthly vehicle health report” that’s typically sent to connected customers. We also have a more watered-down monthly health report based on your previous dealer visits. This could be one of the places we would encourage people to download this additional feature functionality. There is also talk about integrating it into owner rewards at some point, where you earn rewards for downloading the app, and you would earn rewards for other activities. There are multiple ways we’re still formulating that launch strategy, but those are two things that come to mind.

Moderator: You said you’ve had this evolving in the market for five years or so. During that time, how have you adjusted the app or accommodated real-world experiences?

Russell: There’s a lot of different tuning of the algorithm to detect more crashes and balancing the trade-off to minimize false positives while making sure that recall on the predictions are what they should be. Additionally, it’s around consumer engagement, and this is a big strength of Cambridge Mobile Telematics. When a crash occurs: What action and engagement are you looking to get with that customer? What is the value to that customer to engage? How do you measure the effectiveness so that you’re downstream and getting the business outcomes you intend? In this case, the business outcome is getting that customer safe and then getting them into a certified repair process. We’ll be able to help Hyundai fine-tune that and make sure that engagement is optimized. One valuable proof point comes from a large customer of ours – Progressive Insurance. At their earnings announcement at the end of February, Tricia Griffith, their CEO, spent 45 minutes talking about what they’re going to be doing with our crash detection. They had this live in-market for their telematics usage-based insurance customers, and they’re opening this up to all of their customers in their core app. I think that says everything about the value of the capability as well as the business benefits that they’re seeing, and ultimately we expect the same for Hyundai.

Moderator: Given that, is this an insurance play? How do you add value?

Vijay: The biggest value [with crash assistance] is brand loyalty. The secondary value is certified repairs. Certified repairs are done by shops that have trained technicians to work on high-tech cars, so the quality of repairs is going to be better. They also commit to using a certain amount of OEM parts, which means higher part sales for the OEM. And then, there is the opportunity that an engaged customer could be elicited to engage with the brand and some other methods that could possibly monetize in the future. Even understanding if a car is a total loss helps us better approach the customer for a new car offer versus servicing at a certified repair shop. If the crash algorithm is saying this is most likely a total loss, and if the pictures they’ve captured say it’s most likely a total loss, we’re better off suggesting a new car and rental service at that time versus sending them to a repair shop. It is that intelligence being relevant to the customer based on the situation that is important as well.

Moderator: Is there a support center that goes behind this to set action to this type of thing?

Vijay: The workflow will weave in existing support organizations, such as our 24/7 call center. And, of course, we’ll use these advanced notifications for these call centers to tell them this is most likely the scenario you’re facing.

Moderator: Do you share the data that you’re collecting from the crash with the repair center so that you can enhance the service level that you’re providing?

Russell: Triggering a digital FNOL includes data from the detection. As Vijay alluded, the customer would be prompted to take pictures at the scene, which in complement to the data, will help the repair network understand the scope and idea of what parts would be needed to make the repair and kick that process off.

Vijay: We have other partnerships that give you a code based on pictures that you upload. The customer could have one or two quotes from certified repair shops as to what their possible cost is going to be, and that’s derived from this data.

Moderator: What’s the benefit for the customer in terms of going to a certified repair shop?

Vijay: It’s similar to having an appliance repaired at home. You’re probably going to call a certified mechanic when the appliance is more complex. Imagine how complex the car is. It’s the difference of getting a handyman to do your job versus a certified mechanic to do your job. There is a better assurance that the complexity is better handled with people who’ve been trained on the technology. Cars are getting extremely complex with sensors. The last thing you want is to have five of those sensors no longer being connected. On the surface, it might look okay, your car bodywork is done, but if five of these sensors are not connected, you lose out on important safety features. I think it’s important that trained mechanics take care of these complex machines. Also, the warranty associated with it continues – so there’s that assurance.

Moderator: We talked about the data. How do you handle data privacy issues?

Vijay: We launched the privacy portal a year and a half ago and did a total revamp on how we are being transparent to our customers. It starts with data minimization, we only collect what’s necessary. We only store it for how long we need it. It’s not necessarily storing all the data all the time. It is encrypted at rest and in transport. And then it’s an opt-in mechanism. We don’t collect data without telling them what it is. They know the use case, the value they’re getting out of it, and they have to opt-in, then they can opt-out. The data will be initially picked up by CMT and then handed over to Hyundai. As part of CCPA, if there is a request, it will be fulfilled if they are retaining it beyond 30 days. That transparency is built into the program.

Moderator: Does CMT use the data in any way?

Russell: We would use the data to enhance models for the sole purpose of improving the technology but without any identifying information. It’s just to confirm that this was a crash or not. And we can iterate on those models.

Moderator: How do you use the data that you’re collecting to enhance your relationship with your unconnected consumers and your existing consumers? Is there going to be some incremental value that you can see delivered for consumers?

Vijay: One of the values is of course, the crash detection. The larger value is the customer being in our ecosystem and getting timely notifications. If you look in the industry, recall completion rates are less than 50% in many cases. OEMs spend a lot of time and money trying to reach customers to get a recall completed. There are mailers being sent and so on. Completing recalls is important for the safety of the customer, and it’s important for us. [Connecting consumers] definitely helps with recall completion, as well as getting access to reliable content. These days you can Google everything, but getting access to reliable content, we have it in our apps. There are specific manuals and videos that are relevant to them and their car, which is better than just Googling and trying to figure things out.

Moderator: I think it’s a fascinating idea. Safety is obviously key, and bringing it into the mobile app and then utilizing it. Others are trying to play in this space, Apple is doing something as well. It’s good that it’s related to the benefits of the consumer and the benefits to that relationship. Equally, it is linking it to the future with insurance companies and enhancing services.

Vijay: It’s the long tail of the engagement. It’s not just providing a notification of the crash. It’s the engagement that has a long tail with various touch points for you to provide value and get better.