If you Google ‘Uber’ you’ll find countless stories about controversies with taxi companies, complaints about ‘surge pricing’ and critics poking holes in the Uber business model.
Success comes at a price and this review isn’t a confirmation or condemnation of the controversy, instead a first-hand account of what makes Uber successful can what other companies big and small can learn from Uber.
As an app junkie who loves discovering, testing and advocating for solutions that makes life easier and better, from news aggregator apps like Zite and Flipboard to best-in-class mobile utility apps like Key Ring and Yelp, overwhelmingly the best apps painstakingly prioritize simple.
As a marketer and super Uber user, if there was a class of service for Uber users (which there should be), I’d be considered Extra, Super-Elite – 200+ rides across cities that range from more developed Uber markets – New York and Chicago – to less developed – Phoenix and Dallas.
What makes Uber the best app and an even better user experience?
For starters, lets start with my criteria for what constitutes the Best Apps.
1. Speed and Ease
From first tap to close, number of screens, drop downs, fast, efficient and simple standout – and you’ll notice the difference.
2. ‘Mobily’ Aware
A build on speed and ease, mobily aware simply means, built for mobile, on-the-go, small screens, tap-and-go without a whole lot of thought. From opening the app, navigating and ultimately making it easy to complete a purchase on-the-go. If you can open, operate and successfully use the app with three kids at your side or jumping out of a NY City cab, then I’d consider the app a success.
The best apps learn based on your preferences, take news aggregator apps like Zite or Flipboard, the experience improves based on what you read, rate and share. The content relevancy then continues to get better. Personalized can also mean saving of preferences or in the case of Yelp (the #1 most-used, accessed app in my app arsenal) tools such as local bookmarks connected to local proximity make for a personalized and better user experience.
Applying the criteria to the Uber App and Experience
Uber shines across all three areas:
1. Speed and Ease – A simple tap opens the app that is location-aware or allows the user to search or type in specific location. Another tap to summon a driver and 99 percent of the time a driver will accept in less than 20 seconds.
2. ‘Mobily’ Aware – Uber is built for mobile, on-the-go, after a driver accepts your ride, you’ll either see or have access to the following:
1. The drivers timing
3. Visual map that shows real-time visual tracking of the car location — a mix between Frogger and Pac Man — instead with a car and local street maps
4. Contacting the driver real-time is as easy as tapping to text or call – simple, streamlined and integrated nicely within the IOS text and phone functionality
5. Payment – Because your credit card is saved there’s no signing, extra tipping, waiting for a driver to call-in your credit card number – you simply get out and go and a receipt is waiting for you in your inbox.
3. Personalized – In the case of Uber you as a passenger rate the driver one star for poor experience, five stars for excellent service. The driver also rates you as a passenger – you can’t see the specific rating individual drivers rate you at it (I asked a driver and I’m rated a 5 out of 5), but you see the overall ratings of the driver. Ebay pioneered this collective community approach that allows for checks and balances – and incentive for the best drivers to be paired with the best customers. Thus, rewards customer and driver behavior.
Going Above and Beyond – What Really Makes Uber app the Best App
1. Treat employees with respect.
Uber drivers, many who jumped ship from car services or limo companies that often require kickbacks to dispatchers in return for priority fares, glowingly rave about Uber treating drivers with fairness and respect. In talking with multiple drivers it is clear that drivers love working within the Uber system and are Uber’s best recruiting and retention vehicles. They get paid on time, feel part of a growing business, and are incented to treat customers with respect.
2. Incent and reward employees – and pay them well.
Uber drivers are awarded, rewarded with VIP driver status based upon building positive customer experience and exhibiting above board behaviors. VIP driver status translates into more fares pairing the best drivers with the best customers. There’s built in incentive to keep the cars clean and do the little things like having bottled water, gum or mints for customers.
3. Build a brand, connect locally.
I first learned about Uber through a colleague, a New Yorker, who glowingly praised Uber for the convenience and ease. Local word of mouth helped build Uber in the early years and as they rollout and to new cities and services like UberX, a ride sharing offshoot, I’m continually impressed by the local, grassroots, marketing approach. From a Uber-branded Ice Cream Truck in Chicago in the heat of summer to partnering with local events such as Lollapalooza or creatively connecting the brand to key holiday timeframes such as St. Patrick’s day or New Years eve. This local-first, grassroots approach will serve the brand well – adding a loyalty program would take the brand to new heights and tame some of the discontent around Uber’s pricing model
The Bottom Line
When you applying the ‘best app’ criteria to the Uber App and Experience what you get is that Uber the best app and an even better user experience.