When people think of “Uber users,” they often think of Uber riders. This makes some sense–it’s what Uber is famous for: “push a button, get a ride.” But for a lot of users, it’s closer to “push a button, give a ride,” because, of course, Uber driver-partners are Uber users, too. And though there are fewer of them, drivers face a much more complex set of circumstances than riders do. As a UX Researcher designing for drivers, my job is learning how to make their Uber experience better–not only within the app but in all aspects of their work–to reflect what valuable partners our driver partners truly are.
To learn, listen
To learn how to improve the user experience for drivers, my fellow researchers and I go to the source: we talk to the drivers.
Earlier this year, four other UX Researchers and I worked on a foundational study to learn about drivers’ long-term aspirations. We combined remote research tools, surveys, and in-home visits to better understand drivers and their circumstances. Personally, it was a very humbling experience to be welcomed into drivers’ homes, to meet their families, and to learn about their aspirations and frustrations. Despite visiting cities as varied as Jakarta, London, Paris, New York, and San Francisco, we found many commonalities among drivers.
Uber driver partners take pride in their work. They adapt trip after trip to riders’ expectations, relying on hard work, patience, and driving skills to get Uber riders from A to B and back again, all the while working to provide a pleasant, comfortable experience.
We want to recognize the valuable services that drivers provide, especially when they go above and beyond to deliver a truly excellent experience. That’s why we’re launching a new program, Uber Pro, to recognize drivers for their commitment to Uber and their great service to riders. Drivers start as Partners and can reach three different levels–Gold, Platinum, and Diamond–each with corresponding rewards such as earning extra money on time and distance rates (for Platinum and Diamond), even greater flexibility, and savings on maintenance and gas. The program just launched in eight US locations and will be expanding soon.
Earn more, spend less
Drivers are hard workers. Many of them drive long hours and rest only one day a week. And they are working hard for a reason: to earn money they can use to build a better life, whether that’s providing for their family, saving to buy their own home, or investing in a future business. To further these ambitions and help give drivers opportunities to earn more money and spend less, Uber is launching new initiatives via partnerships with third parties to provide qualifying drivers with free 24/7 roadside assistance, car maintenance discounts, free dent repair and more cash-back gas rewards with the Uber Debit Card.
Entrepreneurship and education
This focus on the future means that many drivers are interested in furthering their education and that many see themselves as entrepreneurs, using Uber as a springboard to develop their own businesses. We’re working to make sure our driver-partners are able to get the most out of Uber in the way that works best for them.
To help continue their educations, Uber is partnering with Arizona State University to offer fully funded opportunities to complete courses toward an undergraduate degree or a certificate online to all qualifying Uber driver-partners or an immediate member of their family (https://www.uber.com/asu). Whether taking undergraduate courses, studying English as a second language, or enrolling in business courses, Uber driver-partners will be able to use this resource to help fulfill their own visions of the future.
Uber is committed to celebrating our driver community. The foundational study we did this year will hopefully pay many rich dividends well into the future for drivers and their families. I cannot describe how grateful we are to the drivers for helping us make Uber better, how proud we are to learn from such interesting, driven people, and how excited we are for the future.
And speaking of the future…
As these new programs go live, we’ll be following up with drivers and their reactions to see what’s working and what’s not, so that we can continue to improve the driver experience. I’ll be providing updates on the entire process as we go along. I hope you’ll join us in a few weeks for the next post!
About the authors
Big thanks to my manager Saswati Saha Mitra and my fellow researchers Maria Arguello, Tom Wells, Naima Azaiz and Alvin Juano
Eduardo Gomez is an experienced UX researcher at Uber obsessed with creating user experiences that people love and that work for business. Let’s connect: https://www.linkedin.com/in/eduardogomezruiz/