Joseph Jayanth

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Uber — product shoutout

April 15th, 2016

Categories: Brand shoutout | Product

The Good

  1. No more having to drop friends back at their place after dinner or haggle to the auto guys on behalf of the friends.
  2. My wife used to have a hard time haggling with the auto guys to get a ride to her office, now just a tap on the phone and done!
  3. Uber drivers are well trained with maps, so if they call me to ask about the pick up point I just tell them to come to the pin on the map. They just do it. No explaining directions, which can be really hard with unmarked streets or with the street name signs with garbage piled so high around them that one can surely miss it. Always.
  4. The best part of it is the payments. I just get out of the cab when my stop comes and go. I don’t have to ask for the balance change (is it ok to ask for 4 Rupees? or give it away and think of charity!) or wonder the whole ride whether the cab driver (my personal driver!) has change for the 500 Rupee note that I’m carrying, the only money I have at that point.
  5. Nowadays when I have to go to a mall/street where I know I cannot find a parking I just take an Uber.

The Bad

Can’t book, Wallet balance less than Rs. 200.

That’s a bummer! Uber is usually booked when one is ready to leave or almost about to. But then, Uber doesn’t allow users to book if Paytm wallet balance is less than Rs. 200. I understand the reason for this and I’ not even suggesting that this check has to be removed, but PLEASE REMIND ME!

Remind me, send an app notification, send an SMS, do whatever it takes to let me know that my balance is low for the next ride, before the next ride, NOT when I’m right there on the app, out of the restaurant to look for a cab. Warn me beforehand, please.

The calls

Drivers calling me to say that they are on their way to my location. I think this problem is only in India, from what I could gather from some tweets. Can the drivers please not call. Usually there are two calls, one to say that they are coming to pick me up and will sneakily ask for the destination (which I don’t think is allowed). Second call would be to inform me that they reached the pick-up point.

Product can make it easier for the drivers and users.

Avoiding the first call.

I spoke to a bunch of drivers to find out why they made this call. Turns out they make this call to inform the user that he is on the way, it’s like an assurance call “wait up, I’m on my way, I acknowledge the ride request!” lest the user thinks the driver is not coming and cancels the ride. This can be avoided if the user’s phone number is not shared with the driver till the driver starts the trip. That leads to the second call.

Avoiding the second call.

The second call is to inform the user that the driver has arrived at the pickup point. The product can solve this by having an automated service call the user to inform that the driver has arrived and the ride will be automatically cancelled within the next 10 minutes. Here the user does get the second call but this is to penalise the user behaviour for not making it to the cab on time. Also when the users become aware of this automated service “reminder with 5 minutes on the clock”, users might hurry up and may not pick the call. With driver calling, usually the user says in frantic manner ‘ I’m on my way’, ‘I’m almost there’, because users find it rude to not pick a call or hang up on the driver.

Payment Mode selection and Cab Request on the same screen

The registered user flow in Uber right now is Open the App > select the pickup point > select the payment mode (cash or wallet) AND request for a cab. Instead of confusing user by asking user to do TWO things(payment mode and request cab) in one step, it would be better to move the payment mode selection after requesting a cab. Either after the ride is completed or after the ride starts.

This also allows users to know of the options available. I meet a lot of people who do not take Uber because they do not know that users can pay by cash as opposed to Ola. That is one of main reasons for some elderly or tech-naive users not taking Uber.

One more thing…

The thing that I don’t get about Uber is why do they keep claiming that Uber reduces the cars on the road. In fact I would say Uber/Ola have caused an increase in the number of cars on road. Definitely more people are taking cabs now, people who would have otherwise taken a public transport or a two-wheeler. Earlier I would drop my wife at her office and then go my office, now she takes a cab and I take my car, that’s increase in cars on road. Also, this being a lucrative business for drivers, there are more drivers buying cars to become my ‘personal driver’ which has also led to increase in the cars on road. On the other hand Uber-pool/ Ola share can be credited with reducing the cars on the road.

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