Uber, a mobile-based car service, launched in June 2010 and has since grown to over 50 cities in 20 different countries. It’s an impressive global growth for a company who has had to scale operations while battling the archaic taxi commissions and city regulations everywhere they launched. With estimates of $125M in revenue this year, they’ve transformed from David to Goliath in three short years.
It hasn’t been all rainbows and unicorns for Uber or its users through the last few years. On NYE 2011, many users encountered “surge pricing” for the first time, a dynamic pricing feature Uber uses to try and maintain ride availability by increasing prices. With surge pricing multiplying some fares by 6x, people took to social media to air their grievances about being charged $100+ for rides lasting only a few minutes.
Scaling from 0 to $125M in 20 countries is bound to come with growing pains, and Uber has handled most things very transparently and well, but they’re still lacking in a few areas, including user experience and customer service. As a user of Uber for about three years, I’d like to see them address the following:
- UberX drivers are supposed to go through a city knowledge exam, but in Chicago, it seems like the tests aren’t thorough enough. I’ve heard of drivers not knowing how to get to O’Hare airport.
- Cities need to improve regulations on UberX drivers and vehicles to protect passengers, drivers and property.
2) Customer Service
- Most Uber users tend to air their issues on Twitter and many times Uber fails to respond, and good luck trying to get someone on the phone.
3) Cab/License Plate Number With Text Message
- When your Uber arrives, you always get a text message telling you the driver’s name and their rating, but what’s more important is the cab number or license plate number of the car picking you up.
4) Drivers Cancelling Rides
- When a user cancels a pickup after 5 minutes, the user is charged $10. It’s only fair if a driver cancels a pickup after 5 minutes, that the user is credited $10.
5) Marketing Campaigns
- In one of their marketing campaigns, Uber placed a “bounty” on the heads of Chicago athletes to get them in an Uber. If you could get a Chicago athlete in an Uber, you were awarded $500. It’s interesting to note that Uber has since tried pushing this campaign under the rug by deleting blog posts pertaining to the promotion last year.
- In multiple cities, Uber has launched with free ride promotions and I’ve noticed that in many cities, you see more people complaining that there aren’t any available Ubers versus those who are praising Uber for a free ride. If you’re going to promote something as large as free rides, you have to make sure you have the supply to meet the demand.
6) Extra Tip
- There are many instances when a driver truly deserves a better tip than the standard tip that’s defaulted by Uber. On the screen where we can rate our driver and leave a comment, why not allow us to give an extra tip to the driver?
Uber has definitely come a long way, and nothing beats having a cab waiting for you outside in the pouring rain or walking out of one without paying. They’ve hit a homerun in an industry that was ripe for a technology revolution. With a few improvements, Uber will be an even greater force to be reckoned with.