Uber is a marvel.
It rouses a worldwide legion of taxi drivers to take up arms and hold city streets to ransom, leaving politicians scratching their heads as to how to regulate a taxi service, that is , well, technically not a taxi service.
Unless you have been hiding out in an arctic snow cave, you will no doubt be aware that Uber has caused quite a stir around the world since its inception in 2010.
But why exactly does Uber evoke so much emotion?
Life before Uber
I remember life before Uber with clarity.
Endlessly waiting for booked cabs that never arrived. Hours wasted on the phone to operators who never answered your call. Frustrated attempts to hail cabs after dark, only to be refused service because your short ride was not worth their while.
But above all, it was the trepidation of stepping into a stranger’s car as a lone female, in the blind faith, you would be taken home safely.
The road to progress
‘We’re also going after those hundreds of micro-pain points all over the city. Go out on the streets and ask people – every New Yorker has a few that they’re passionate about. Uber is going where New Yorkers get stuck, where the options are few and far between, and bringing everything we can to make life easier’ (Uber 2011).
Garrett Camp and Travis Kalanick created Uber after finding themselves stranded on a Paris street, unable to locate a cab to take them back to their hotel.
Experiencing the problems from a customer’s perspective, Camp & Kalanick, took an ‘outside-in’ approach to product development (Iacobucci 2013), developing a new service to address problems long experienced by consumers, but for years neglected by a complacent taxi industry.
The result was a simple yet effective service, which delivered benefits beyond the core consumer need of getting from point A to B, instead focusing on intangible value add’s, that dramatically improved the customer experience as evidenced by the 8 million users worldwide, who have embraced its offerings.
Uber’s widely successful adoption can be credited to 3 key factors;
It’s straightforward and easy to use , allowing users to hail a cab with the push of a button.
It’s seeming compatibility to the needs of the consumer, enabling them to get from point A to B with minimal effort.
The significant advantages it provides over services offered by the taxi industry.
Helping the customer
Christensen, Raynor and Anthony (2003) encapsulated the spirit of disruptive innovation in a simple sentence ‘Don’t try to change your customers – help them‘.
Deloitte (2016) described how Uber has achieved this by measuring the benefits it offers Australian consumers in comparison to the taxi industry. Some of these benefits include
- Lower fares
- Reduced wait times
- Greater accessibility to transport in ‘black hole’ areas
- Increased perceived passenger safety
It’s these differentiated value-adds that set Uber apart from the taxi industry, compelling 80% of customers to rate its service as 5 stars, well above taxi satisfaction ratings, propelling it’s growth through experiential word of mouth recommendations.
A Fork in the Road
I became an Uber customer in 2013, after recounting yet another distasteful taxi experience to work colleagues. Working in a team filled with early adopter’s of innovations, they assured me that Uber would solve all my problems. I never looked back.
But this may change.
The Melbourne Magistrates Court handed down a ruling last December making it effectively illegal for Uber drivers to operate in Victoria.
The matter is now in the hands of our politicians, who will ultimately determine whether we will be allowed to continue down the road to progress, or be forced to make a U-Turn back to the past.
So as politicians ponder our future, I ask you to consider these questions;
When was the last time you heard anyone complain about taxis?
When was the last time you heard anyone complain about their Uber ride?
In the meantime, I’ll leave you with some thoughts from the people of Melbourne.
Angela Colantuono; Student Id 216002314;
WordPress Username acolantu;
Deakin Email firstname.lastname@example.org
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