I Need a New Car, Fast!

How Vehix.com Rates in an Emergency Car Buying Scenario

October 18, 2007

In this Test-drive report, we apply the Product Select and Buy Customer Scenario pattern and its “I want to find the product or service that best addresses my requirements” Moment of Truth to the online car buying scenario as our customer persona, Mia Driver, visits Vehix.com to find the right car for her family. Just how quick and easy is it for a car novice to research makes/models and locate just the right car on the site?


Mia Driver, a single working mother with two busy kids, has just seen her beloved—and old—car die. Although she has never bought a car on her own before, she needs to get the right vehicle for her family very quickly. In this Test-Drive report, Mia goes to the vehix.com site to research car makes and models to determine appropriate vehicles based on her financial situation and required features. She then identifies vehicles located at dealers within her area and arranges to test drive the top selection. The moment of truth in this Product Select and Buy Customer Scenario pattern is "I can quickly and easily identify and buy the best make and model for my family." The metrics around this moment of truth include getting a recommendation for the top three makes/models for her needs; finding all the information she needs on the Web without making a telephone call; getting no unsolicited sales calls or emails; finding at least two appropriate vehicles available within her area; meeting her financial limits of a $4,000 down payment and not more than $250 per month in loan payments; finding all information necessary on the Web within one hour.

Vehix.com does not do a great job of meeting Mia's needs. It doesn't provide any recommendations or expert advice. It does well in helping her determine what she can afford to spend on a car and in referring her to car dealers from within the site.


In the Product Select and Buy Customer Scenario pattern, customers want to acquire products or services that meet their requirements. Most typically, customers follow a sequence of activities that:

  • Perform research for the product/service
  • Compare similar products/services along criteria that are meaningful to their usage of the product or service
  • Select the product or service that they feel best addresses their selection criteria.

A customer's key Moment of Truth in this Customer Scenario pattern is "I want to find the product or service that best addresses my requirements." The Metrics for this Moment of Truth qualify or quantify the time to perform the research and comparison, the ease with which they can be performed, the channel on which they can be performed, and, ultimately, that a selection that meets the customer's specific parameters can be made within the customers'desired time frame.

Quickly Identifying a Replacement Vehicle

In this Moment of Truth Test-Drive report, we'll role play the customer persona who uses online, self-service facilities to research, compare, and select a new (or used) car. We'll name this customer persona Mia Driver.

Mia, single mom to Jason, 14, and Claire, 11, is in desperate need of a new car. Her current, beloved 1994 Nissan Altima has finally bit the dust after almost 200,000 miles. She is currently renting a "wreck" from a cheap car rental firm, but even the low price they charge is out of her budget. She needs to commit to a new car—and reasonable car loan—within a few days.

Prior to purchasing the Altima used in 1995 (with about 12,000 miles on it), Mia and her ex-husband had owned a new 1989 Toyota Camry. Mia really liked both the Nissan and the Toyota and, thus, has an affinity for Japanese makes and models. She is also curious about whether a hybrid vehicle is appropriate and affordable. She has never bought a car before, and she knows very little about the entire process or the relative value/features of current automobiles. She is open to either purchasing a new car or a late model, low mileage used car, providing she can get attractive financing with a low down payment and a low interest rate.

Mia works during the day, and is busy with her kids'activities in the evenings, so she is not someone who wants to spend hours and days researching automobiles. She hopes to find a Web site where she can quickly research what might be the best make and model of car for her family, and from where she can identify available a new and/or used vehicle from a reputable dealer in her area. She also hopes to find a site that will help her determine what price she can afford to pay for a car based on how much she has for a down payment and how much she can afford to spend every month to repay a loan.

For her scenario, Mia's Moment of Truth is, "I can quickly and easily identify and buy the best make and model for my family." Her metrics for the Moment of Truths are as follows:

1. I can get a recommendation for the top three makes and models for my needs.

2. I can find all the information I need on the Web without making a single telephone call.

3. I receive zero unsolicited sales calls or emails from car dealers or lending institutions.

4. At least two appropriate vehicles are immediately available within my geographic location.

5. The down payment is $4,000; the monthly payment is under $250.

6. I can find the answers to all my questions on the Web within one hour of research.

Her conditions of satisfaction (criteria) include:

  • Confident that the make/model recommended is right for me based on my criteria (reliability, comfort, safety, fuel efficiency, resale value).
  • Can locate an affordable vehicle from a reputable dealer in my area.
  • Reasonable financing is available.
  • The information is understandable to a novice car buyer.
  • The car is "cool enough" for my kids!

In Table A, we list and describe the relevant Customer Scenario components for the Moment of Truth Test-drive.

I can quickly and easily identify and buy the best make and model for my family.
(Please download the formatted PDF to see the table.)
Table A. In this table, we provide a context for Mia's Customer Scenario. We also note her Moment of Truth and the metrics, which will indicate whether the auto information site being researched meets or exceeds her expectations and tolerance vis-à-vis her customer experience. Finally, we capture the criteria upon which Mia will base her choices.

Test-Drive Approach

Mia has seen the television ads for Vehix.com, and she thinks that this would be a good place to find the information and the car she needs. We will play the role of Mia as she visits the site. As Mia, we'll take the following approach to navigating the site and using its facilities:

  • Research hybrids
  • Determine how much I can afford to spend on a car based on money available
  • Get recommendations for best new or used car for me
  • Find available vehicles in my area, and check out reputations of dealers
  • Get quotes
  • Make appointments to do test drives on my top two to three options

This is Mia's plan. However, she might well deviate from this sequence if her research process requires it or is optimized by finding information in a different sequence...


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