Netnographic blitz: Benchmarking

Desarrollado en NEOLAND

Madrid view, El Confidencial

The story

Madrid, April 2018. As the private transport warfare is reaching its peak point opposing to the traditional Taxi services more and more transport companies & startups are showing up in the city and users are more and more disappointed with their services. With every new oil-propelled car or vehicle hitting the road the city is becoming a more polluted environment directly affecting the air quality, having as a result an impact on the health of the citizens. Madrid is a particularly polluted city. As a response, the town authorities are already proposing different projects aiming to expel polluting vehicles from the city center in the near future.

The project

This study is framed in the research phase of an ongoing UX project relating ecology & private transport called “Quimera”. The idea consists on a private company similar to Uber or Cabify with a crucial point of difference: Ecology & sustainability. The company will be 100% Spanish, will operate exclusively in Madrid for now and will only use low-cost electric vehicles.

The technique

In the following article I will do a quick scan of the current situation through the exclusive use of netnography. This is because users tend to be more sincere when hiding ibehind a screen and let loose their rage and anguish which supposes some really top of the line user experience review.

This is a quick straight-to-the-point comparative benchmarking exercise relating private transport in Madrid, focusing on detecting weak points and breached walls among the competitors. It will be divided in three sections according to the threat level that each of them may present.

Netnography is an online research method originating in ethnography which is applied to understanding social interaction in contemporary digital communications contexts. It is defined as a specific set of research practices related to data collection, analysis, research ethics, and representation, rooted in participant observation. (Kozinets 1998).

1. HIGH THREAT

First phase: Search engine reconnaissance

Google search activity in the last 7 days
Search activity relating Uber, Cabify & MyTaxi from Saturday — Sunday

In this first phase I exposed the presence of the direct rivals in the Google search engine. The results are quite clear, Cabify and Uber are the most requested private transport services in Madrid, followed by far by MyTaxi which is some sort of Uber like app for traditional Taxi drivers.

It is interesting the fact that these services are extremely requested at Saturday nights. Between 1:00 Am & 6:00 Am Cabify & Uber duplicate MyTaxi’s demand and leave totally behind the Car2go & Emov. The user goes out at night, and when the user leaves the club he is expecting his transport to take him home, he does not want to (probably cannot) drive. Reasonable.

After this Google comparison I proceeded to examine each company individually, and most important: To examine and expose their weakest points which would eventually lead me to the discovery of the main pain points their users may be suffering from.

Second phase: Breached walls

Uber

Uber is the fat fish here. It is Cabify’s biggest rival and the most popular private taxi service in Madrid.

Google reviews on Uber in Madrid
Google reviews on Uber in Madrid

Weak points:

  1. The main paint point detected relating UX is the “Enforced route” system that the app uses: The driver may know the streets of Madrid very well but he is forced to follow a one and only route, which in many cases is longer. Users know this, and their critics are fair.
  2. The negative brand vision relating taxes and “job insecurity” as exposed by users in their reviews. Uber is seen as an evading-tax company.

Cabify

The “Spanish Uber”. Although Cabify is the second most used company it is the most hated private transport service in Madrid, the company’s Google score goes down to 2,1 points out of 5.

Google reviews on Cabify in Madrid
Google reviews on Cabify in Madrid
Diario de Madrid, 9th April 2018 “Woman reports sexual harassment in a Cabify service”
A reaction to the sexual agression scandal on Facebook
Cabify’s Facebook page
Tax-evading accusations

Weak points:

  1. UX compromised by weak customer support as explained by users in reviews. The main reclaims are about the need of a telephone number to solve customer problems.
  2. Negative brand vision relating taxes being payed “partially” or at least that is some of the user’s main critiques and views of the brand.
  3. Recent sexual scandal in one of their cars. The incident was solved by “rewarding” the victim with a next-purchase discount ticket, which made the community even angrier with the company.
  4. Critiques around the lack of electric cars in their services. At this point Cabify is well behind Uber in this matter.

MyTaxi

MyTaxi is the response of the traditional Taxi services to Uber & Cabify. Although it is not as used as the others they have the highest user rating.

Google reviews on MyTaxi in Madrid

Weak points:

  1. Although MyTaxi represents a smaller threat it is still used by a large number of users mainly because of their ethical behavior & support to the traditional Taxi.
  2. No presence of electric cars at all. MyTaxi does not relate to modern & sustainable city transport.

2. SMALL THREAT

Car2Go

Company owned by Daimler AG. Although Car2Go is not a taxi service it does represent a threat in daily transport situations, users drive the car but it is very cheap comparing to other professional-driven apps.

Google reviews on Car2Go in Madrid
Google reviews on Car2Go in Madrid

Weak points:

  1. The company is seen as a fraud. Users report continuous cases of extra charges due to alleged incidents with the cars.
  2. No driver. The need to drive the car itself can be a pain point in the experience, specially in Madrid. Driving a car around the city center when you do not know the streets may turn into a huge paint point for the user.

Emov

Similar to Car2Go except the fact that the company is French owned by Peugeot & Citroën. The car used is the Citroën-CZero. Same system, same problems. Seen as the worst of all.

Google reviews on Emov in Madrid
Google reviews on Emov in Madrid

Weak points:

  1. Users report geolocation problems in the app. The user goes to the selected point to get the car and when he arrives to the place there is basically no car. Huge paint point.
  2. Issues relating battery problems. The car does not communicate correctly with the app and many users run out of battery.
  3. Reported parking & crane ticket situations.

Zity

Renault + Ferrovial’s initiative to compete with Car2Go and Emov in Madrid. The car used is the electric Renault Zoe Z.E. 40.

Weak points:

  1. Severe customer service problems as reported by the users.
  2. Once again, issues relating battery problems. The car does not communicate correctly with the app and many users run out of battery.
  3. Reported parking & crane ticket situations. The customers are charged for a big amount of parking issues.

3. FUTURE THREAT

Google searches in Madrid in the last 7 days
ElPaís, January 2018 “BlaBlaCar’s app is shifting towards a urban Uber service”

The car sharing French company, BlaBlaCar is now an indirect threat but the company has plans to step into the city’s private transport sector in the near future, pivoting towards some sort of shared Uber like service in Madrid.

Google reviews on BlaBlaCar
Google reviews on BlaBlaCar
Complains about BlaBlaCar “Only women” service policy
Complains about BlaBlaCar “Only women” serivice policy

Weak points:

  1. Reported sexual harassment situations in their services.
  2. No professional driving.
  3. Little confidence among their female target audience.
  4. Dangerous drivers, insecure situations.
  5. Money refunds take days, many users are complaining. This is one of the biggest pain points.
  6. No ecological nor sustainability values within the brand.

COUP

Coup is a shared German motorbike service landing in Madrid this summer. The company will use electrical bikes only.

20 Minutos “Coup, share electric bike service is arriving this summer to Madrid”

Weak points:

  1. No professional drivers
  2. Limited use, very few users will be willing to use this service to substitute a regular taxi service when it comes to going to a club at night, to the airport and so on.

3. CONCLUSIONS

  1. None of the competitors have ecology or sustainability as a core value of their brand.
  2. There is general disappointment around these transport brands, a lot of users seem to be unsatisfied with their services. Low ratings and many complains around the web.
  3. Carsharing brands do have electric vehicles but they are not taxi services, users have to drive the vehicle:
  4. The electric vehicles being used by Uber, Cabify & MyTaxi are a minority, optional and premium in some cases. (Uber Teslas)
  5. Overall deficient customer support. Customers reclaim a contact number to solve their problems. (Lack of empathy)
  6. Biggest competitors: Uber & Cabify

4. OPPORTUNITIES

After this online-blitzkrieg research phase it is possible to tell that user experience is not at its best moment nowadays in Madrid when it comes to ordering a transport via app. Users reclaim more corporate ethical responsibility regarding working conditions and ecology as well as better and more human customer services.

There is definitely space for a Spanish Uber like project in the private taxi sector built on key brand values such as ecology, customer care and fiscal transparency. The aim of this brand is to position itself as the sustainable transport alternative in the city of tomorrow.