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Is Uber Living Its Brand Promise?

Posted by Tara Lasker on Thu, Apr 21, 2016

The Uber experience continues to fascinate me with each ride. I pepper my drivers with questions about Uber’s business model, their experience as a driver, and how satisfied they are driving for the sometimes controversial ride-share company. It’s a topic I also bring up around friends, family, and colleagues, and I always come back to the same question: where does Uber win and lose in the minds of end-customers?

I took a look at Uber’s brand promises to see if those promises aligned with my own experiences (as well as the experiences of other people I’ve talked to.) Below, you’ll find Uber’s promises to riders:

uber-2.png

  • Tap a button, get a ride. It’s so nice to be able to request a ride from Uber with one tap and have a clear expectation of when my driver will be there and what my ride will cost. I appreciate having my driver’s information as well as the license plate number on hand.

Verdict? Uber delivers in a big way on this promise. 

  • No cash, no tip, no hassle. Until recently, I thought this was true, and I loved Uber for it. I appreciated that everything was linked to my account and that I didn’t need to fumble around my wallet in a dark car at the end of my ride. I asked a driver about this a little while ago, and I was surprised to learn that not only are tips not included in the fare, but Uber has also begun taking a higher percentage from each ride. I researched this after I got home and saw that the driver was right: tips are not included. The more I researched, the more I realized that I was not the only one who had this misconception.

Verdict? Uber says there’s no need to tip, but it’s not explicitly stated that tips aren’t included in the ride cost at all. There’s a lot of confusion surrounding this issue. Since I now know that tips aren’t included, I plan on tipping my driver out of pocket, which reintroduces the problem of fumbling around in my wallet at the end of a ride. This is an issue that could make me to switch to a competitor (perhaps Lyft, which allows you to tip in the app). In my opinion, Uber owes its drivers (aka “partners”) and its customers clarification on why “there’s no need for a tip.” 

  • You rate, we listen. This might just be my personal misconception, but given that it seems that anyone can drive for Uber, safety is a concern. This steers me in the direction of cabs when I’m alone because I perceive them to be better regulated. However, if I’m with my husband or friends, I’m much more apt to take an Uber for the value. I have colleagues who consider Uber as (if not more safe) than a cab since all rides are tracked via GPS and riders have the driver’s picture and information as well as the vehicle’s information at their fingertips. Every week, it feels like there’s a new story about an assault on an Uber rider or driver, which can make taking an Uber feel like riding at your own risk. So, what about the rating? Does it help? Just like an eBay seller, do positive evaluations help communicate safety?

Verdict? I’m mixed. I’m still not convinced that Uber is any more or less safe than its alternatives. However, as a data nerd, I do appreciate having data on my driver when I request a ride.

Uber filled a much needed void when it launched in 2009. But as the company continues to grow, the promises it makes to customers don’t always ring true. The fix? Implementing a customer measurement system, which will ensure that the company delivers on these brand promises and doesn’t steer off the road of success. 

Tara is a Research Director at CMB. She enjoys nights out in the city with her husband and grilling her Uber driver on the way home.

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Topics: travel and hospitality research, brand health and positioning, customer experience and loyalty