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?
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.