Friday, June 30, 2017

Uber to Make Improvements to App After CEO Resignation

Uber has been going through issues lately with maintaining a positive public image. Various scandals, especially regarding its CEO, have been hurting the company's public relations, which can hurt its bottom line. Ever since the CEO, Travis Kalanick, recently resigned, the company has been working to regain customer loyalty and get back a portion of their market share that had been lost to Lyft and other competitors. Tracey Lien's L.A. Times article outlines some of Uber's planned changes to make the rides better for riders and drivers alike.

Uber's first planned change is to enable a feature that Lyft has had for a while: passengers will be able to tip a driver through the app. By adding this capability, Uber hopes to show its users that the company cares about improving relationships between drivers and passengers. Additionally, in an effort to make the relationship less one-sided, Uber's policies on ride cancellations is changing. Previously, riders had 5 minutes to cancel a request after summoning a driver, which often left drivers sitting around for a while, waiting for passengers that might cancel at the last second.

The changes make it so that a customer has only two minutes to cancel without paying a $5 penalty, and riders will be charged per minute for keeping their driver waiting for them. In this manner, riders have fewer opportunities to take advantage of their position, in much the same way that enabling both parties to see their own ratings could help both rider and driver modify their behavior in the relationship, which makes for a more pleasant overall experience.

Many of Uber's changes are intended to improve driver-rider relationships, to show that the company cares about its users and to improve customer loyalty. However, one change seems to both address a concern raised by users as well as expand Uber's user base. There are many potential users out in the world who don't own a smartphone or don't have access to mobile internet. To address this problem, Uber's latest update will allow a customer to book a ride for someone else. The driver will receive the passenger's contact information, and the passenger will receive a text message with the driver's description and a link to track their route. This feature is especially useful for seniors and other users who may not be as tech-savvy.

Some of the features designed to benefit the senior demographic were already made available through services run through third parties. For example, Uber has a partnership with 24Hr HomeCare that allows customers to book rides via a phone call rather than through the smartphone app. Additionally, there are other services called GoGoGrandparent, Instacart, Munchery, and Postmates, that all utilize telephone calls to allow users to book rides or have food or groceries delivered. So, it seems that Uber is getting into that portion of the market a bit late. Hopefully, all of the proposed changes will do enough to overpower the negative influence that months of scandals formed.

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