The aptly (app-ly?) named Uber

July 9, 2012 — Leave a comment

So, I heard about Uber via Twitter a few weeks ago while doing some surfing relating to my upcoming vacation to D.C. They bill themselves as your on-demand private driver, and promise clean cars within minutes of ordering via handy app. No more worries about competing for a cab, haggling with the price and putting up with rude drivers and sticky seats. Since I was arriving with a 10-year old in record-setting heat, this seemed more than a little appealing.

Signed up before I left for D.C. which took all of two minutes to input credit card and contact info. Arrived at Dulles, whipped out my phone, hit the Uber app and within 5 minutes a Town Car pulled up. In the short amount of time between requesting a ride and getting a ride, I received text messages from Uber alerting me of my driver’s ETA. The driver’s name and star rating showed up on my screen – along with an option to call him directly.  When our car pulled up, the driver couldn’t have been nicer: introduced himself, helped with our bags, gave us cold water bottles. We felt like V.I.P.s.

When he heard it was Max’s first trip to D.C., he happily morphed into a private tour guide. I couldn’t believe our good fortune. Once we arrived at our destination, the app asks you to rate your driver before it closes out. And unlike most surveys (nuisance!) – the rating (1 to 5 stars) is accomplished with one click. Your score is instantly averaged into your driver’s current star rating for instant accountability! (BTW I never was paired with a driver who had less than a 4.6 rating during our 4 day stay). Easy.

Better still, before I exited the car I already had a detailed email receipt – complete with map of route taken. A great feature for those of us who turn in business receipts that are scrutinized within an inch of their life. I was positively beaming as I headed into our hotel. I couldn’t remember the last time I had a customer experience quite like that. Needless to say, that positive first impression had us Uber-ing through the city for the entire stay and we were never disappointed. Outstanding service even in the throes of the Fourth of July holiday crowds.

An image of a text message apology sent from Uber to me

And here is where it really gets exceptional. Coming back from the Nats game on Day 2,  our driver missed an exit. Not a big deal. He was awfully apologetic and we were happy to see some more sites as we backtracked to our hotel.  As I filled out my driver survey – I noted the missed exit in a comment box. This was not a complaint, more like a FYI. Imagine my surprise when I saw this email (photo on the left).

SERIOUSLY!  How unexpected and utterly cool?  Which brings up some more coolness. The same route capture image that shows up on your receipt is also monitored by management which is helpful when there is a dispute.

I’m going to let this utterly superb customer service experience roll around my brain for a while. Somewhere is a lesson for those of us in healthcare. Not sure if it’s an app – plenty of mHealth coming out. First thought: waiting room times.

It’s the attitude that really resonated with me. Clearly the mission at Uber is to delight the passenger, each and every time.

So to quickly rehash: Need a ride? Tap that app and watch as the blinking car icon makes it way. Need to chat with the driver? Tap the app where it has his/her number – very handy  in crowded pick-up zones. (Hi, Ashley here. I have a neon green t-shirt with an ice cream stain and a 10-year-old with a matching stain – on the corner of 23rd and Constitution). No more worries about enough cash or whether they accept a credit card. No more awkward tip calculations. And at ride’s end there is an instant email receipt for expenses.

Uber: should you come to Austin, I’ll be happy to ditch my car. I think it won’t be long before taxi’s will have no choice but to match this level of service or face extinction.

Taxi anyone? Yeah, I didn’t think so.

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