Uber Service

Volume 14 Letter 12

Many ignore it, some fight it, a few embrace it … the future. It has a way of creeping up on us. Most of us think we’re progressive but the reality is that many of us ignore the future and don’t actively search out new opportunities that changing technology can bring. This is especially true for market leaders and companies in regulated industries.

History buffs may know of the Luddites in 19th century England who smashed the mechanical looms that threatened jobs in the textile industry. More recent examples include Sony and other entertainment companies who tried to prevent the music and movie downloads which jeopardized their CD businesses and we all remember when Kodak was unable to migrate to digital photography. Currently trying to hold back the tide of the future are the taxi companies. The source of angst is, of course, Uber, which connects drivers with riders using GPS technology and a downloadable app. Taxi drivers across Europe and North America have staged strikes and blocked freeways in an effort to get politicians to outlaw the new service.

As far as the consumer is concerned the taxi industry in general has long been in need of a change. Try catching one when it starts raining or during Christmas party season. How about trying to get a one way ride out of the business district into the ‘burbs? Or maybe customers are tired of angry drivers in older model cars. The only new technology introduced into taxicabs in the last twenty years has been the ability to accept credit cards. The techno savvy Uber allows you to schedule a pick up and shows you where the driver is en-route. It tells you how much your trip will cost before you even open the door and since your credit card is already on file the payment is automatic and your receipt shows up on your smart phone along with a questionnaire to rank the service. By the way, ranking is a two way street and drivers also get to rank their fares – were they on-time / sober / polite etc. The system motivates everyone to perform effectively!

No matter how hard the taxi companies fight it, Uber is likely here to stay. As we head into 2015:

  • List new technologies launched in the last few years – could any be applied to your industry?
  • Smart phones are ubiquitous – can that technology be applied to give your customers a better experience with your product or service?
  • Commit to launching two new products / apps / systems that will improve your customers’ experience with your company.

Uber has a simple business model – that’s what makes it so effective. How can you simplify your customers’ lives in 2015?

For more info on Uber see “Disruptive technology claims another unadapting victim; Todd Hirsch, The Globe and Mail Report on Business Dec 2014

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