BUILT FOR DRIVERS, WITH DRIVERS

App

Seeing as my last blog post was about the new innovations and company partnerships that Uber recently announced with JUMP Bikes https://isys6621.com/2018/03/20/jump-bikes-ubers-newest-venture/ it only seems fitting to discuss the latest update that this tech giant has to offer.

As a heavy Uber user myself I have spent a large amount of time in strangers cars conversing with the driver on the way to my destinations. A frequent question I like to ask drivers is if they enjoy working for Uber as an independent contractor. More often than not my question is answered with a list of complaints about underpay, a lack of customer service, and poor user interfaces. This experience in no way seems out of the ordinary. It is no secret that Uber has a history of a lack of caring for its “partners” in their driving service. The driver app was originally created two years ago by Uber executives based on their expectations of what drivers wanted. Furthermore, the original app was not field tested in turn leading to an egregious amount of complaints on the consumer end. This tarnished relationship with drivers has been the root of Uber’s negative media publicity seeing as the app’s “improvements” ultimately led to lower wages, a poor user platform, and a lack of customer service for drivers.

Queue Uber’s (even newer) newest venture!

Early today Uber announced the redesigned of their driver interface. Uber partnered and consulted with hundreds of drivers across the world to help design a driver friendly app infrastructure that would help mend the broken relationship that has plagued the platform for so many years. In an attempt to become completely transparent CEO Dara Khosrowshahi stated earlier in the week that, “It’s going to be about listening to [drivers]” and, “So that [drivers are] treated as partners in more than just the name.” Khosrowshahi reinforced these statements by furthering going on stating that Uber had increased their engineering team from 30 engineers to over 300 engineers. This was in hope that no stone was left unturned throughout the creation process. The app redesign has been tested over 100,000 times and so far nearly 4,000 bugs have been fixed. It seems after years of dissatisfaction and protest on drivers part Uber is finally willing to listen and adapt their business practices to appeal to what they call the “heart of their service.”

So what’s different in the app?

Earnings-Tracker-1

The fundamental difference between the old app and the updated version is driver engagement. What does that mean, you might find yourself asking. Uber has implemented multiple new activities within the app that are intended to stimulate driver commitment and add additional incentives for increased pay. One example is Uber’s new “quests” feature which is a timing based incentive program that promotes drivers to complete multiple trips in a row in order to receive rewards such as additional compensation. Complete 20 trips in the allotted time, collect an extra pay check, it’s that simple. Additionally, drivers can earn “badges” from good feedback from riders in an attempt to motivate drivers to provide the best possible service.

When it comes to on-screen changes for drivers there are three main improvements implemented within the update. First, Uber has swapped out their extremely unpopular bombardment of surge pricing texts with a new display within their platform that now highlights areas within the region that currently have higher traffic. By pointing drivers in the precise direction of where they can make more money a larger quantity of pick-ups are fulfilled and the more revenue is gained for the company, everybody wins! Second, Uber has provided a heads up display illuminating driver statistics such as the quantity of trips completed since login and current earnings. These additions coupled with access to the specific quests and badges are supposed to promote a sense of pride and appreciation for the drivers in turn keeping them more engaged. Lastly, in an attempt to create a more cohesive connection between drivers and riders, driver’s rating pages have been redesigned to include things such as compliments from other riders, badges, and total number of trips completed in their lifetime. As stated by Yuki Yamashita, Uber’s Group Product Manager, “the goal was to let drivers know that they were more than just the sum total of their ratings.” This active investment by Uber to create a network of satisfied drivers and riders is long overdue, however it seems they are headed in the right direction to bridge the gap between expectations and reality.

 

These changes come as little surprise to people who have been following Uber’s recent activity and expansions to improve driver loyalty. Last year Uber announced their “180 days of change” project which solely focuses on improving company-driver relations. The relaunch of Uber’s driver app is considered phase 2 of their program which was created in order to foster a new level of trust between the company and its “employees” after years of PR disasters. Uber has currently launched over 40 new features for drivers and hope to double that by the end of the project.

Personally, although I am happy with the much needed changes to the driver platform that has been so heavily criticized over the past few years I think driver’s true frustration with the app comes from low fares and long hours. Earning anywhere from roughly $8 to $14 an hour (after expenses) it seems that drivers are still not satisfied with their compensation. Uber hopes that with their new incentive programs like quests will help to fix this lack of contentment with current wages. With around seven million active drivers, ten million rides a day, and a whopping 75 million Uber users I sure hope Uber helps mends their relationship with the public and stays at the forefront of the transportation industry.

Sources:

https://www.uber.com/newsroom/new-driver-app/

https://expandedramblings.com/index.php/uber-statistics/

https://www.cnet.com/news/uber-overhauls-driver-app-to-do-better-by-drivers/

https://mashable.com/2018/04/10/uber-new-driver-app/#iApcCeh3liqq

 

 

 

 

 

9 comments

  1. mpduplesmba · ·

    It’s ironic that Uber is investing in and promoting drivers as “partners”, when Uber’s end game (at least as of a couple weeks ago) is to replace its drivers with self-driving cars. Obviously Uber must have been working on this new driver app interface for a while, but it’s interesting timing to come out with this a couple weeks after the self-driving car fatality. Combined with the news that Uber will not renew its permit to test self-driving cars in California, I wonder if Uber’s strategy is changing. Or they are just realizing the proliferation of self-driving cars is farther out than originally expected so Uber needs to please its drivers in the meantime.

  2. Jobabes121 · ·

    Great post! @mpduplesmba brings a very interesting point, and I believe for now at least Uber is shifting their focus to enhancing their already tarnished brand by solving the most urgent problem of the dissatisfied drivers. With around 7 million drivers already, their current revenue model will not change anytime soon. I think their change on the drivers’ experience is a win-win strategy for both the company & drivers as he said, and it will also improve the riders’ experience by learning more about the drivers and worry less about price surging with more drivers actively trying to deliver as many rides as possible in a given time.

    My concerns regarding this update can be minor, but there are a few. One, I am afraid the reward system for drivers will cause some drivers with an urge to make extra cash be more careless in driving and end up speeding, etc. Or if the reward is not enough, it may not do anything and have no effect on the drivers’ behavior. It would be hard to find the right reward value to balance those two. Two, the drivers’ main concern of compensation seems to be very mildly resolved by these changes. At the end of the day, as a rider, I pick Uber vs. Lyft SOLELY based on price when I am in a hurry and need to make a trip. Even a few dollars make a difference here, and probably the same goes to the drivers. Unless Uber makes a significant change in this root cause of the dissatisfaction, or perception change in this issue, the dissatisfaction will only continue after the drivers get used to this change.

  3. oliverhowe14 · ·

    This is a really interesting post. While I agree that the driver interface needed an overhaul in order to make the drivers’ lives easier, that it not what is making people switch away from Uber. I know a lot of people have switched away because: 1. Lyft is a lot, lot cheaper and 2. There is no screening on Uber drivers leading to uncomfortable situations. It is necessary for Uber to appease their drivers, but ultimately it is the riders who are their revenue stream.

  4. jamessenwei · ·

    Nice post, seems like this overhaul of the driver side of the app was long overdue. This is just another manifestation of sweeping culture changes within the company. From what I observe from my own reading, I got the impression that Uber was one of those start ups that didn’t really care too much about whatever people thought as long as they were experiencing rapid growth. It looks like they have matured a lot over the years and really looking at how they are effect all stakeholders.

    From the limit amount of drivers I have heard from, a lot of them rather drive for Lyft than for Uber. One specific driver that drives for both services feels that she gets better clients with Lyft over Uber, saying that people who ride with Lyft have more of a peer to peer relationship with the driver. Driving with Uber often times feels like your treated like a taxi driver and not really a peer. I’m not sure of the implications of this. Of course it is only one account that I have but may be its another reason why drivers are dissatisfied with Uber. Maybe it has to do with branding since Uber has a professional service feel to it over Lyft, which has a “I’m sharing my car with you” brand.

  5. Keenan Neff · ·

    I think that Uber definitely needed to change something to their app in order to make the drivers more satisfied. It is obvious that this has been a big problem for Uber in the past, and it seemed like they only addressed these issues with statements, and not actions. Uber is finally answering to the much publicized problem that their drivers do not feel like they are being treated like “partners.” The new app design and features really allows the drivers to feel like they are more part of the company. I think the surge pricing region feature is really cool because once those regions are on the drivers’ maps, most of the drivers will go there and eventually the surge price will drop a lot quicker than what it would do normally.

    I agree with @jobabes121 about the concern for the rewards programs. If uber is really incentivizing their drivers to complete a certain amount of trips in a given time for a reward, I do too fear that these drivers will try to cheat the system and in turn put the lives of the passengers in danger.

  6. Great post. I do enjoy talking to drivers about the Uber experience (field research). The irony is that last time my driver talked to me about cryptocurrency. Good to know that they’re paying more attention to them now.

  7. graceglambrecht · ·

    Almost all of my Uber drivers, especially those from the United States have expressed huge issues with Uber and its culture as a company and how it treats its drivers. I’m the girl who sits in the front of the Uber to chat (yeah, i know that sounds crazy) so I know there is some dissatisfaction. As @oliverhowe14 mentioned in his comment, Lyft seems to be the more “trusted” ride share company now, and offers cheaper pricing (usually) and a safer perceived experience (as an example, Lyft’s matching algorithm attempts to match females and riders with each other for sake of comfort and perceived safety.

    Hopefully a better interface will not only help drivers be more efficient, but also help the overall customer experience as well (two birds one stone right?)

  8. bc_eagle1 · ·

    it appears a lot people really value that in person experience (or connection) in an uber. Self driving cars may be further off than others think. I find drivers still have many issues with the app and then go into chaos mode. An easy interface that actually helps communicate or a backup mode would probably help.

  9. mqzhang · ·

    Thanks for sharing these updates about a very relevant service. While it’s nice to see Uber taking steps to make it’s company-driver relationship more amicable, there is a massive cost to being an Uber driver that the company doesn’t consider: the risks and costs of constant driving. When you’re on the road so often, your car’s components are much more likely to at least experience standard wear-and-tear damage that really builds up over time. That excludes incidentals such as collisions and insurance, which could land a driver with skyrocketing costs. For a person working for Uber as an independent contractor, none of these costs are covered, meaning that a flat tire or broken rim from a pothole could instantly negate the week’s paycheck.

    Still, it’s reassuring to see that the company is making efforts to be more driver-friendly with higher pay rates and bonus opportunities. I hope this is a sign that there may one day to a chance for drivers to earn more appealing terms. I’m inclined to think that the big push will likely come about when a competitor such as Lyft, known for friendly driver relations, begins offering employee benefits.

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