When You Combine Great Tech With Great Customer Service, Good Things Happen…
While you may enjoy white-knuckling it through the downtown core challenging road ragers and over zealous bike couriers for asphalt supremacy, I‘d rather avoid the stress and hail a Beck chariot to drive me to my destination.
It’s easy. It’s fast. And it’s all all so civilized (even if some of the cars aren’t). But it’s not perfect.
The quality is inconsistent, the customer service is non-existent, and payment is a pain. Whip out a credit card and just sit back and watch the driver flutter between administrivial exasperation and technological bewilderment as they negotiate with the gods to get their payment device to connect. (Hint: Shaking it at the sky doesn’t work.)
Clearly, the taxi industry desperately needs to be reinvented.
Luckily, Uber has arrived.
Headquartered in San Francisco with an autonomous Canadian team, Uber isn’t even close to being a taxi. They’re an on-demand private driver in an SUV or town car powered by technology and with amazing customer service.
Here’s why this is a company to watch.
1. Tech to the core.
You can request a car to your location using SMS. Or their mobile website. Or their Android or iPhone apps. The whole service is GPS based so you know where the closest car is, you can visually track the progress as it makes its way toward you and you know precisely when it’s arriving. At the end, you’ll know exactly how far you went, the route taken and what your average speed was. Data geeks rejoice.
2. Giving and getting 5 stars.
Providing consistent customer service is difficult when your front line staff aren’t actually employees. Well, Uber has that figured out. Immediately after your ride has ended, you rate the driver contributing to their overall score. But here’s the best part: Drivers also get to rate customers. This fully transparent system ensures that both parties are on their best behaviour. Drivers get great customers. Customers get great drivers. “We believe in quality control on both the driver-side and the rider-side,” said Lucas Samuels, Uber Toronto’s Community Manager. “It helps us ensure a smooth experience for everyone, and helps drivers connect with our business and their favourite customers.”
3. Easy payment. As in no payment.
No, the rides aren’t free. But because there’s a credit card on file, you’re automatically billed once your trip has ended. Tips are included. No muss. No fuss. No pleading with the driver to take your credit card. An invoice with a complete breakdown arrives in your inbox immediately. The digital wallet may not be here but like the Starbucks app, they’ve built a great work around.
4. You can’t hail amazing customer service.
I’ve only rated a driver below 4 stars once. When I did, I was asked why. Lucas investigated my issue, looked at the GPS data and confirmed that the driver took an inefficient route. My card was rebated the difference between the most efficient cost and what I actually paid. I didn’t ask him to do it. He just did it. But what’s important is that he could do it because he had the data. Not surprisingly, data allows for wonderful customer service by removing the subjective bias that exists in most disputes.
5. A Community Manager who gets it.
In Toronto, Lucas Samuels is an outstanding Community Manager but it’s not by accident. All Uber CMs are thoroughly trained and are paired with a CM Buddy from another Uber city to talk about potential situations and share best practices. They also have a shared CM knowledge base to refer as needs arise. They’ve actually built their own outreach tools and are pretty active on most social channels. They listen, they respond, they solve.
There’s a great lesson in all of this. Lazy industries with bloated legacy infrastructure and substandard experiences can be easily trumped by tech savvy, convenient, and connected startups who put the customer first. Call it what you want. I call it Uber.
(This article first appeared in Dx3 Digest)