The Moment of Truth

It was a loud bang. I totally missed that pothole. I knew the road was bad here – they’re rebuilding the convention center and there’s been some subduction – but how did I miss something that big?

And then they car started shouting at me. I had 13 PSI in my tire and had to park now. It wasn’t a pothole; my tire had exploded.

One of my first jobs out of college was working in the loyalty & retention department of a wireless telco. There were two ways to keep customers loyal.

The first was to make sure things went well across the lifecycle of their contract. For instance, make sure they use their phone shortly after setup and then get them a new contract well before their old one was up.

The other way was to make sure that whenever something went wrong, support them and show them that you’re really on their side.

Frequent dropped calls?

Broken handset?

These are the moments of truth where you question if your provider is right for you.

Needless to say, having your tire explode is a moment of truth for your car company.

I pulled into a parking lot and went to look at the car. As I stepped out of the car, all I could hear was hissing. This was definitely not a false positive.

I have a Tesla model 3. This car does not come with a spare so I was stuck with the car. It was Saturday morning and this had thrown a serious wrench in my plans. I was not super happy.

The car told me to open my phone app. I followed instructions and it triggered an automatic report to Tesla’s roadside assistance team.

Moments later, at 10:02 am I received a text message letting me know that I was in the queue for help:

At 10:12 someone began reviewing my account and “Audrey” reached out two minutes later to triage the situation and help fix it:

We’d swapped info by 10:23 and at 10:30 I got confirmation that help would be there within 60 minutes – and that I’d get a loaner tire; no need to get a tow.

I got a call about 15 minutes later from the tow truck company and he was able to swap my tire out. Pretty easy.

But how would I get the tire replaced?

The tow provider told me that he’d drop the tire off at the service center (remember, Tesla has no dealerships…) but that they weren’t open until Monday so it would have to wait until then.

Bummer. I’m going to have to make an appointment and take time off work to get it replaced.

I went into the app to arrange a service appointment. It later turned out that the app actually tried to make one for me (this was literally the only hiccup of the entire process and a trivial one at that).

But then I got a message – in the app – from the service team saying that they wanted to instead come to my house and install the tire there. No need to go to them.

I even got a nice text confirming availability – and “Jay” was kind enough top up the air in the tires.

Overall, this was a fascinating experience.

I’d always been told that the Tesla was a computer with tires but really the sensors and telemetry is built into the entire experience.

Instead of having to lose a Saturday or longer on a flat tire, I was off and running within an hour in part because the telemetry of my car was plumbed through an entire business process.

Moreover, there was no waiting on hold or having to talk to someone. Other than talking to the tow guy, the entire experience was asynchronous (which I think is a plus).

This was probably the best example I’ve experience yet of what a truly connected physical world will look like.

Can’t wait to see what else is coming.