Monday, October 21, 2013

My love for Uber

This past winter I attended a Customer Experience conference hosted by Forrester in NYC. The conference focused on the role that Customer Experience plays in marketing and brand positioning. We heard from brands ranging from Audi to American Eagle to Marriott. Between sessions people chatted and discussed their favorite brands and customer experiences. 

One brand that was notably absent, but frequently mentioned, was Uber. Although Uber is still on the up-and-up, it has gained a cult following of customers. Those that use it, use it religiously. I am one of those. Why? Because Uber demonstrates quintessential best-in-class customer experience. 

It does this by following 3 key tenants of relationship marketing: 1) be personal and relevant, 2) surprise & delight and 3) exchange value.

  • (1) The on-demand car service that operates in major cities, and directly competes with cab companies, operates almost entirely via a phone app. Through the app, I can order a car, know who my cab driver is, how far away he/she is, and what kind of car he/she is driving. In some cities, I can even select the kind of car you're willing to pay for. Credit card information is all stored, and I'm not expected to have cash for tip. Personally, I have used Uber to skip lines at the airport, trusted it to get to an important meeting, and sent it to pick up my parents. This makes it both highly personalized and relevant-- It's all about me and what's convenient for me. Oh and it's on time, every time. I love it. 
  • (2) Uber drivers often have candy, magazines and fresh water. Their cars are very, very clean. Even after years of using Uber, I have yet to come across a dirty Uber car. When I'm racing to an important meeting, or sending someone to pick up my parents, cleanliness is appreciated. These cars, by the by, are owned and maintained by the individual drivers. For many of these drivers, their cars, are their personal cars. For a city girl like me who is used to riding in rickety old cabs, this is both surprising and delightful.
  • (3) Finally, the value exchange. I can rate my Uber drivers. This rating lets their employers know how they are performing and directly effects their driver status. A good customer experience is inherent in receiving a good rating from a passenger. But this performance review is not one sided, drivers also rank passengers. A poor passenger rating makes it difficult to get another Uber. This 1v1 relationship and reliance on one another's good manners and mutual respect, leads to a better, more collaborative experience. The dynamic has shifted from a one-way, to a two-way dialogue; and as a result, I have a better customer experience. 

For the record, when I left the Forrester conference which was in the middle of Times Square, I was expecting to jump in a cab and head of to the airport. Apropos to the topic at hand, I was instead met by a long line of angry conference go'ers waiting for stored baggage and limited cabs. Me? I punched into my iPhone app, and walked to the corner to jump into my Uber. Yup, all mine. The only one for me.

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