Why Uber is Dying & How to Fix It
Uber is Dying.
At least, that is the current sentiment. And I agree.
While I’m less of a skeptic of Uber as compared to Deliveroo (I’ll save that for a separate article), I am still a significant skeptic of Uber’s future.
To be clear, Uber has solved a novel problem in a phenomenally creative and thoughtful way. As a Londoner, before Uber I either took the bus or didn’t go out. Uber has completely changed that, it solved a problem that I didn’t really think about as a problem before, and has been incredibly convenient on numerous occasions. So bravo for that!
But there are major problems as the recent string of crises has obviously demonstrated.
The easiest reason to be a skeptic is the pure financials of the model. Uber has been so successful at attracting riders & drivers that it has been able to suppress wages to a minimally viable price (the lesser known MVP of entrepreneurship…)
The price to take a ride is cheap. Universally cheap. But Uber’s focus on gaining a monopoly in every market at any cost means the company isn’t profitable. If it were close, we’d be hearing the rumbling of the near term IPO (Snapchat as the prime example of this scenario). But with the prices so low, how & when will Uber support a profit?
However, that is not the main reason I am a skeptic of Uber’s future.
The main reasons I’m a skeptic is Ubers lack of an understanding of what it is selling.
Uber acts as if it is selling taxi rides from A to B.
Uber is not a taxi company. Uber is a customer experience company.
At times they’ve acted like they get it — they’ve standardized cars so that they’re of a certain quality, they’ve introduced personal Spotify playlists so you can control the music, and their rating system & car tracking platform helps users feel secure.
However, these are largely secondary to what matters most: The experience between the driver and the passenger.
How many times do Uber drivers get asked about Uber?
All the time. Everyday.
The drivers are the face of the company. They are the primary controllers of the user experience. They control its future.
Not the CEO. Not the engineers. Not the investors.
A rating system won’t capture this metric. Plenty of times I’ve had a fantastic Uber driver who was pleasant and friendly to talk to who were upset about some aspect of Uber, normally about the prices or lack of control.
The drivers have been driving for Uber to survive, not to thrive.
And as a frequent user, I’ve noticed. And I’m not alone.
Uber either forget that users interact with drivers outside the app, or needs to learn it quick. Travis Kalanick’s, Uber’s CEO, recent outburst at one of his own drivers was an escalation of my concern of where Uber’s drivers sit within it’s value proposition.
The recent worrying allegations about sexual harassment and the bravado culture may be a further sign of their lack of focus on not only the customer experience but the employee experience as well.
They solved a problem in a phenomenally clever way, and have done so at lightning speed. That has been impressive to users & investors alike.
However, they’re not in the little league now where “talent” alone can help them to outperform others . And even though they have the technology to be successful, they currently don’t have the understanding of what they’re selling to succeed.
Personally, I hope they turn it around. I hope they find a way to build a mindful & inclusive corporate culture that helps it’s employees, which includes their drivers, to live a meaningful life where they all can enjoy the fruits of their labor.
But all of that is secondary if they can’t figure out how to get the customer experience right.
And that starts with price and ends with culture.
If your drivers can’t thrive, you will not survive. Period.
They can’t change if they don’t hear it from their customers.
If you agree, please share this article. Together, we can send a message to Uber, it’s investors, and its drivers that we are paying attention.