20 February, 2024 Webmaster

Customer Experience Compared to What Engineers Think the Customers Want and Need

Are engineers to some extent developing features they just want themselves? We had a chat with Anya Ernest at Polestar and member of the Advisory Board for VECS. Anya has a solid educational background, having studied Interaction Design at Chalmers University of Technology, and Service Design at the School of Arts and Crafts, both in Gothenburg, Sweden. Currently she is working as a Principle Engineer at Polestar connected experience, leading a team focusing on the service development surrounding the product. She has also earned a reputation as a knowledgeable and engaging guest on panels and podcasts, and as a frequent guest lecturer at Hyper Island and Yrgo. On the second day of VECS Anya will moderate a panel discussion focusing on customer experience and we got the opportunity to ask her a few questions prior to the event.


Could you please introduce yourself and your work at the Polestar?

My name is Anya Ernest and I’m a principal engineer at Polestar, leading the service design and innovation team within the connected experience. I joined Polestar in 2018, and my focus within my role is on creating meaningful user experiences and digital services that are designed with technology, business, and design in mind. My passion lies in understanding how people behave in different context, which allows me to craft solutions that are tailored to meet user needs. In 2023 I was scouted to become a member of the VECS advisory board partly because of my strong passion for equality and inclusion, which are topics close to my heart.

You are moderating a panel discussion with the headline Customer Experience Compared to What Engineers Think the Customers Want and Need. From my understanding you will address the topic “Moving from Features to Capabilities” – could you elaborate on that?

We won’t be focusing so much on engineers being traditional, but rather a whole industry. We stand before a great challenge to move from a product focus to software focus, and to do so there is an urgent need to change the way we are approaching challenges and opportunities. Of course, being a service designer, my role is to work cross-functionally with building capabilities which can be utilized for additional and new business.

Is it just a myth or are engineers actually developing features they just want themselves?

I think that most engineers, and people, face challenges in developing things they don’t believe in. It’s simply not motivating enough. This is why building a diverse team with people who bring in different perspectives is immensely important. And to bring in additional perspectives, we can conduct user studies and gather the results. But even reading books or watching films which have been created by diverse group of artists will help building an empathetic mindset and make you a better solution architect.

How can you integrate customer requirements in the SDV while working agile?

I don’t really understand the question, isn’t the whole purpose with agile about being able to adapt to new insights? But agile on its own will not make you user centered, it needs to be a focus on its own. I keep coming back to capabilities. Let me explain; if we have a really progressive CX department with great ambitions on new services, if those have not been thought of a few years earlier they are not doable. But if we accept that we don’t know what we want a couple of years ahead then we can open up through capabilities which can then be used. One really great example of this is the fact that someone thought it would be a great idea to have Google Playstore in our cars. They probably didn’t think that my team would come in and create apps to be used while parked for example our collaboration with Stockholm film festival which gave our customers an in-car film festival. But the capability was there, so we did.

What are the challenges with the “app economy” for OEMs?

That the service providers are still thinking along the lines “I want to sell this feature to the OEM”, not “I can now have a direct-to-consumer business model”.

What are you most looking forward to by attending the event?

Meeting people and listening to great talks. Hopefully I will leave with new insights and new friends.