Do I need an EV charging stations app, and what is the best charging app?
These are two of the most common questions EV owners search on Google!
It shows how crucial a charging app is in providing an excellent user experience for EV drivers.
We already explained in our article about EV charging station solutions that most bad experiences with driving an electric vehicle (EV) come from problems with charging them and not from the electric cars themself.
So in this article, we will focus on what makes an app the »best EV charging app,« how to provide an excellent user experience (UX), and how to achieve users’ loyalty.
Table of contents
- The Battle of EV Charging Apps
- EV User Experience (UX) vs. EV Customer Experience (CX)
- How to Build the Best EV Charging App?
- General EV Charging App Features
- Special EV Charging App Features
- How Much Does an EV Charging App Cost?
- Why Choose a White-Label EV Charging App?
The Battle of EV Charging Apps
We could say that there is a battle on the market between car manufacturers, charge point operators (EV CPO) or Electro mobility Service Providers (EMSP), and providers of third-party EV charging apps.
They all want the EV drivers to use just their app, but that is hard to do in reality.
It’s possible, but you need a great app that stands out from the rest.
The reason for getting the users to use your app is simple!
The Smart EV Charging app is the best way to drive traffic to your charging points and offer additional services to better monetize EV Charging.
EV User Experience (UX) vs. EV Customer Experience (CX)
To avoid any confusion, let us define the difference between user experience (UX) and customer experience (CX).
Forrester defines customer experience as “how customers perceive their interactions with your company.«
On the other side, user experience focuses on the experience with a particular product or service.
So, if you are Tesla, the customer experience would be how a Tesla driver rates his experience with your whole brand.
The car, EV charging app, charging stations network, prices, aftersales experience,…
The user experience, on the other side, would focus on a single product/service – in this case, the Tesla charging app.
A company, of course, will want to provide the best possible customer experience, but in this article, we will focus on how to give the best user experience with the EV charging app.
How to Build the Best EV Charging App?
Today a mobile phone is a primary device people use.
A good EV Charging stations mobile app is a must for any Charge point operator (CPO) or Electro mobility Service provider (EMSP).
It’s the critical element for providing a good EV charging user experience and keeping customers returning.
Smart EV Charging: Unlocking Its Full Potential
Designing such an app isn’t easy, though.
When developing any application, there are some general rules app development must follow to provide a good user experience.
In our case, it must be combined with specific functions an EV charging app demands.
General EV Charging App Features
Whether it’s an EV charging app, an e-commerce app, or a mobile game, the general principles of app development and functionalities are always the same.
Simplicity and User-Friendly Interface
If an app is difficult to navigate, users will be frustrated and lose interest fast.
They will switch to another app, possibly a competitor’s.
A good EV charging app should have a user-friendly interface that provides a seamless experience.
The usage of menus and buttons should be intuitive.
The app also needs to be responsive and adapt to different screen sizes.
There is nothing worse than slow loading times!
A slow app is usually a result of bad graphic design or an app that needs too much data transfer to operate.
In any case, slow is bad.
Good Resolution and Color Schemes
The app designers must develop an eye-catching design, good image resolution, complementary colors, and an overall professional look.
At the same time, the graphics design should not affect the loading time too much, so there is always a thin line between design and functionality.
Data Usage and Caching
An EV charging app is designed for driving, so we can’t always expect to be in areas with great mobile signal coverage.
If an app needs a lot of data transfer to function, the app will be slow, especially on a weak signal.
The best way is to ensure that the app caches (saves) as much data on the device as possible.
This feature will ensure that users can use the app also with a weak or no internet connection.
For example, a map with all charging stations in the area should also be available offline.
Nobody likes an app that drains the battery more than it should.
The developers must pay attention that the battery usage is within normal limits and maybe offer a “dark mode” to preserve the battery even more.
iOS, Android, and Web
The app should be available at least on the two biggest operating systems – iOS and Android, plus it should work in a web browser.
The coding can be pretty much the same, but both app versions must be thoroughly tested to avoid problems with, for instance, different screen sizes and resolutions.
Both apps must be available on App Store and Google Play.
EV Charging App Security
Cybersecurity should not be taken lightly, especially in an EV charging app.
After all, the app stores sensitive information like personal data, credit card details, charging and payment history, and possibly even customer behavior and location history.
So security is an absolute must and must be focused on throughout the entire development process and thoroughly tested.
Push Notifications & In-App Messages
When the company wants to notify the user, push notifications and In-App Messages are easier than sending an email.
Push notifications are messages that the user will see without opening the app.
In-app notifications are the messages he will get to his app inbox and see only when he is inside the app.
Depending on the importance of the message, the provider will decide when to send one or another.
Let’s face it; nobody likes too many push notifications!
They can be disabled, but the user might miss an important message.
A push notification can notify the user that his EV has finished charging.
However, an In-App Message can inform him about a new promotion aimed at customer retention or cross-selling campaign.
Your app must include a way for users to contact you and provide feedback.
That should be a quick and easy process with which they can report bugs, suggest improvements or seek help.
Users are the best testers, and it’s only fair to say that nobody can build a perfect app from the start.
User feedback is the best way to see what they want and involve them in making the app better and providing a better user experience.
Special EV Charging App Features
An EV Charging app must provide the user with all the features an EV user needs.
Some are common in all apps, and some are more advanced and can be found only in the best apps on the market.
Navigation and Route Planning
An EV Charging app’s essential feature is finding charging points in your area (location detection) and along your planned trip route.
The app must provide all relevant info and real-time data about the availability of charging stations and enable charging scheduling (slot booking – where available).
Drivers can also check user reviews and search, add favorites, get notifications when their favorite charge point is available, and search for the best-rated charging stations in their area.
Users can also select to get updates on new charging stations that emerge in their area.
With the trip planner and built-in navigation, drivers can plan a trip and enjoy turn-by-turn navigation to selected charging stations.
Filtering the Stations
The filtering process is vital since not all charging stations are appropriate for all vehicles.
The app enables the filtering of stations according to plug types, charging speed, charging cost, payment methods, ratings, or preferred charging provider.
Users can predefine which charging stations they want to see with smart filters.
The days of free charging are slowly disappearing.
The app shows charging tariffs for different stations, and an inbuilt calculator will estimate the charging cost according to your price plans, packages, or subscriptions.
Managing Charging Sessions
If the station doesn’t support Plug & Charge function, the identification follows over the app.
The user also controls the whole charging process, which means he can start or stop the charging sessions at any time.
He can control various parameters on a smart car charging station for optimal and cost-efficient charging.
The app will send push notifications when charging is done or if there are any unexpected interruptions in the charging session.
Payments and EV Billing
In-app payments and multiple payment options are self-evident, but any serious EV charging provider will go the extra mile for their customers.
Today in EV Charging, different payment plans like pay-as-you-go, memberships, and subscriptions are all parts of the EV Charging business model.
The app and billing system must also incorporate various rewards, cashback, vouchers, loyalty points, and promo codes that users receive as part of customer retention programs.
For more information on diverse EV Charging business models, multi-parameter tariffs, pricing plans, and more, read our blog on EV Billing.
EV Charging app & EV Roaming
Apart from Tesla (for now), different Charge point operators enable roaming.
That means that drivers using the app of one charging provider can also charge at charging stations belonging to other charging providers (EV CPO or EMSP).
EV Roaming plays an essential role in the e-mobility revolution.
Since no charging network can provide complete coverage of all areas, it is the only way to keep EV drivers as long-term users of your solution (app).
To achieve EV roaming, different EV charging service providers must collaborate directly or through roaming hubs like Hubject.
An informed EV user will only select apps from providers with broad roaming coverage.
History logs are essential for users since they provide insight into past charging sessions.
The users want to see their charging consumption and costs, distance driven, and the actual range they achieve with it.
History logs also provide info on past billed and paid events and driving costs.
Different providers can have different levels of customer support.
They can vary from 24/7 live support to Chatbots only, but some customer support must be present in any EV Charging app.
How Much Does an EV Charging App Cost?
The overall cost of developing an EV charging app is hard to predict since many factors are involved.
The number of features is one for sure.
There is also the region and languages, time of development, and the complexity of the app…
The overall cost of an EV charging app that works on Android, iOS, and the web is estimated somewhere between 20.000 and 40.000 euros or USD.
It is essential to understand that this is the cost of the app alone, not the whole backend that powers it!
Of course, the cost of developing EV charging software is much higher.
Why Choose a White-Label EV Charging App?
The question of why get a white-label EV charging app can be answered very simply.
Why spend countless hours and resources developing something already developed, tested, and proven on the market?
A company can brand the whole app to match its corporate identity by getting a white-label EV charging app.
Providers can fully customize the app, the logo, font, colors, buttons, and location pins, being only a part of it.
Also, the time-to-market is much faster than with own development.
Especially if a company needs the app and the complete EV charging software, then there is no other option but to get the full EV charging station management system plus the app from a proven company like Tridens.
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