Ride Sharing Is Just The Start
Startup: Uber
Location: Chicago, IL
Responsibilities: Operations
Date: August 2014 - November 2014

What Is Uber Like?

Startups are interesting. The idea that drives them is based around 'distribution' by means of introducing an innovative solution to a industry that hasn't seen change in some time.

Enter Uber - the change that the taxi industry desperately needed.

With their main headquarters in San Francisco, Uber's Chicago office is dedicated to regional expansion, internal operations, and overall marketing. Working with the operations department I helped identify opportunities for Uber build brand loyalty and trust amongst their two consumer bases. These two groups are the rider and driver partners. Surprisingly - Uber does not hire drivers. Uber views their drivers as 'contract partners' that utilize Uber's application and rider community. 

As Uber expanded into smaller communities in the Midwest, my responsibilities expanded to monitoring and reporting on Uber's rider and drive partners.

Monitoring tickets and flags flowing through Uber's database, provided us with the ability to gain actionable insights for how to improve Uber's overall customer experience. 

Recommendation - Optimizing The Driver Profile

One recommendation that drastically improved Uber's user experience was the was the optimization of the driver's information, as it appears to a rider once the driver is 'en route' to the rider's location. In earlier builds of Uber's mobile application, riders had a difficult time finding and identifying their drive - especially in crowded, public areas. In some cases, this resulted in riders mistakenly entering the wrong vehicle, which often led to the driver ultimately canceling the trip all-together.

We noticed this trend after numerous analytic reports and rider complaints that were flagged in Uber's system. To help correct this issue, we recommended providing the user with the vehicle's license tag and photos of the driver and their vehicle - all of which were incorporated into Uber's mobile interface.  

Recommendation - Optimizing Surge Pricing Notifiers 

Another recommendation was in regards to surge pricing. Surge pricing affects the overall price of a trip by increasing the base fair when the number of users requesting rides disproportionally outweighs the number of available drivers in a particular area.

Through similar analytical reports, we noticed a positive correlation between spikes in surge rates and rider complaints regarding their total trip cost.

From this data, we noticed a trend where a large amount of complaints from riders came from trips taken around the late night hours of 10pm - 4am, due to their trip price being extremely high during periods of surge. During these hours, a decent percentage of Uber's rider user base is out engaging in social environments with friends where alcohol is ( more than likely ) being supplied in one form or another.

Reasonable assumption could lead someone to equate the previous two points. Riders go out and socialize with friends for periods of time while consuming alcohol and fail to understand how much surge pricing is when they are ready to navigate home.

Fortunately, the solution was fairly straight-forward. After certain amount of surge had been applied to a specific area, the rider would have to manually type in the exact surge rate ( ex. 1.6X )  before a ride could be requested. This second level of authorization helped riders better understand what the surge rate was and that it would be applied to their trip.