Most coverage of Uber has not been very positive lately. Despite that bad press, I had some very interesting interactions with Uber drivers over the past few days that painted a distinctly positive view of the popular ride sharing service.
I’ve been in Atlanta this week for meetings at two office locations in Smyrna and Kennesaw, while staying at a Hilton in Marietta, along with a trip downtown to visit cousin’s while in town. Uber has been my primary transportation these past three days.
Being in an established metro like greater Atlanta, the availability of Uber when and where I needed it was consistent and reliable. Uber’s technology is constantly evolving, so some of this is not new, but the technology is clearly enabling an improved experience for both rider and driver. Here are some of the things I find innovative and empowering about Uber’s technology:
- When requesting a ride, the app searches for drivers closest to your pickup point and a driver confirms your request and you immediately know the drivers name, rating, vehicle make, model, color and plate number. The app encourages the rider to verify the plate before entering the vehicle for security purposes.
- If traffic is heavy or something happens that significantly delays your pickup, the underlying technology re-scans for a closer driver and reassigns your pickup to a driver that can get to you more quickly. The driver who originally claimed your pickup is re-prioritized for a new pickup to replace your fare. This is smart and effective as it maintains driver and rider satisfaction and conveys a loyalty and customer experience focus.
- If a driver is driving to fast, the app will alert them and nag them until they reduce their speed to an acceptable and safe level. This is done leveraging the drivers smartphone GPS capabilities and helps the company ensure rider safety and will also alert the company to a potential problem driver if this happens repeatable or with no corrective response to the alert.
- As a platform, the technology enables some quality of life choices for its drivers. I spoke with a few drivers this week who credited the Uber system with providing them the flexibility to live their life with flexibility in their work schedule, allowing them to provide better care for their families and use their time behind the wheel to earn a respectable income rather than just to commute.
- I also learned that Uber will contact random drivers very identity verification that appears to be tied to analytics driven by the technology platform. In other words, if the system detects an out of character pattern in a drivers work habit, driving style, etc., such activity may trigger a verification request as a form of quality control and system integrity.
I found this all very interesting and a great example of technology driving a market disruption with more positive results than negative. I know some will disagree with my assessment. That is perfectly fine. The main point I hope to make is that Uber, despite its flaws, is a good case study for how technology advances have enabled a new business model to shake up a market that is not typically known for being customer centric, while also improving both the provider opportunity but also the consumer experience. Happy riding!