Our partnership with a global leader in providing comprehensive fleet management services

During our long collaboration with Alphabet, a subsidiary of the BMW Group, we built, designed, iterated and created a lasting relationship.

  • ‘Best in Mobility 2023’ at the 2023 IAA Mobility Awards
  • 171,000+
    monthly active users
  • ‘Best in Mobility’ 2022 award winner for seamless connectivity

How do you turn a utility app into a companion you can’t leave the house without?

In 2014 we started working with Alphabet, a world-leading provider of business mobility solutions.

Alphabet's expertise in car and commercial vehicle management helps companies to manage their corporate mobility in an effective and sustainable way. Today, Alphabet manages a portfolio of 700,000 leased cars and light commercial vehicles in 33 countries.

Alphabet came to us with a brief to completely redesign and relaunch their AlphaGuide app (now called Alphabet Leasing) for lease car drivers.

There are currently 90,000 companies across the world using Alphabet’s services, and their app is the essential business travel companion for thousands of people across Europe.

In the beginning

When we started working with Alphabet, the app was already live in four of the twelve markets, each market with its unique needs, operational processes, marketing and legal requirements. We were tasked with centralising and streamlining their car leasing processes into one app: AlphaGuide.

Alphabet’s goal was to help lease car drivers get from A to B by tailoring their services to the distinctive needs of every driver, and to reduce their operational costs by offering in-app customer self-service.

We set out to build the new AlphaGuide app that all twelve markets would love and use. No easy feat.

Discovery and exploration

The first year was spent doing discovery and exploration. We were hyper-focused on the needs of lease car drivers, which helped us avoid feature-centric thinking. Together with Alphabet, we explored the driver’s experience from every perspective, while also considering data privacy and legal requirements in each market.

We conducted surveys with lease car drivers themselves, hosted workshops with Alphabet’s market representatives across all twelve markets, and reviewed Alphabet’s services, internal processes and systems. We also assessed trends within the travel market, including the implications of ride-hailing apps and autonomous cars. Then it was time to pitch.

Our first prototype was a calendar-based timeline concept that showed drivers a complete picture of their day: when they had to leave for a meeting and how long it would take them to get there. This required the driver to sync their calendar with the app.

The next four years were spent building the app and testing with lease car drivers across all markets. We found that the calendar-based timeline concept was better received in some markets than others.

We wanted AlphaGuide to become a travel companion for every driver in all possible scenarios, even as their needs evolve over time. The goal was to build a future-proof app that would stand out from other mobility app solutions on the market.

Back to the drawing board.

A true travel companion app

AlphaGuide evolved from a calendar based travel app to what it is today: a true companion app across all user touch points during the three-year lease cycle - whenever something goes wrong with the lease car, the driver can rely on the Alphabet app. With this came a redesign and a name change. From 2022, AlphaGuide became the Alphabet app it is today – a simple way for drivers to manage their vehicle in a way that feels personalised to them and their preferences - fitting to Alphabet’s goal: making the Mobility of their customers easy.

Lease car drivers often travel long distances for work, so we wanted to create a companion app that could do more than the average utility app like Calendar and Maps, while also creating value for Alphabet's digitisation strategy.

During our exploration phase, we studied every stage of the driver’s journey, their pain points and where they spent most of their time within the app. To tailor the app to the driver and their needs, we added functionality across the complete life cycle of a lease car, from the moment the driver picks up the car to the moment they return it.

Then we built a new information architecture for the app, switching from a calendar-based timeline concept to a tile-based concept, which surfaced the most relevant features in each market. This allowed drivers to quickly access information and resolve issues with their car.

Building one app for twelve different markets meant we had to consider the legal requirements in each country. Working closely with Alphabet’s market representatives, we developed app features that could not only be rolled out across all markets, but also tailored to specific countries.

The mileage tracker is the most used feature in the Netherlands, where employers can reimburse their employees’ travel costs on a tax-free basis depending on the mileage allowance.

Meanwhile in Sweden, we built a Driver’s Journal feature specifically for this market. Employers in Sweden are required to pay congestion taxes, so the Driver’s Journal feature allows drivers to track or report congestion.

The Alphabet app offers the most relevant features depending on where a driver is located, which means Alphabet and its customers can easily comply with country-specific requirements.

In 2022, this approach paid off when Alphabet won the ‘Best in Mobility’ at the 2023 IAA Mobility Awards for the first time in the connectivity category for how seamlessly the app connects lease car drivers to services provided by BMW’s corporate partners such as tyre retailers and maintenance suppliers.

'Best in Mobility 2023' at the 2023 IAA Mobility Awards, as voted for by the readers of Vision Mobility.

Alphabet App Feature Highlights

  • Book a service, e.g. tyre change, maintenance or repair
  • Locate service points, e.g. petrol stations, electric charging points
  • Report a damage (most used feature across all twelve markets)
  • Track your mileage (most used feature in the Netherlands and Sweden)
  • Contract details and travel documents

Release early, develop quickly, discover continuously

Our tech team shines during every sprint cycle, and they continue to do so week after week. Our team of developers work with an agile mindset, while remaining focused on the drivers needs across Europe.

What is the recipe for success for a brief with a challenging technical solution and complex company structure? You create a friendly and transparent atmosphere with the client from day one which builds trust and fosters a culture of creativity and pragmatism.
Mikael Svensson
Tech Lead, ustwo Europe

Our developers, tech lead, QA engineer, designers and delivery lead continue to work closely together to constantly improve and maintain the app.

When you spend nearly a decade collaborating with one client, you come to build a deep level of trust. Our close relationship with Alphabet means we can iterate quickly. We have the best knowledge of the technical stack because we were involved in the build process from the start. This means our tech team can fix bugs within hours and deploy a new release.

We prioritise continuous discovery and delivery throughout the entire product life cycle. In 2022 alone, we deployed 48 new releases of the Alphabet app platform.

It’s true: diverse teams build better products

We owe the continued success of this project to the following: a strong client-agency relationship, a diverse team, trust, and playful but serious partnership.

Our team consists of people from Australia, France, India, Norway, Pakistan, Sweden and Turkey, all based in our Nordic studio in Malmö. We hosted more in-person workshops, then we could count with Alphabet’s team from their headquarters in Munich and the leading Markets, and through shared experience have merged into one big collaborative team.

This helps us build momentum, rapidly improve the product and create a greater sense of accountability and ownership. Ultimately, it means that everyone takes pride in their work.

It’s clear: trust and close collaboration increase efficiency, decrease costs and at the end of the day results in an outstanding experience for the end user.

Over the last decade, we have proudly been Alphabet’s digital partner, working across concept, design and production to co-create a full-scale, seamless app with a new and secure back-end. We’ve gained vital insights that continue to help Alphabet in its mission to create an unparalleled mobility experience for all drivers.