In conversation with an Uber driver

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Uber is in the news for all the wrong reasons. The problems they are having are not just India centric. A judge in Madrid has ordered a temporary halt to the service and Thai authorities say the firm lacks proper registration and insurance.

I have been using Uber fairly often and happened to use Uber yesterday too. I naturally picked up a conversation with the driver to gauge what he feels about the whole incident. It obviously pained him and because of that one ‘bad apple’ every one else has to suffer

Ravi (the driver), who has been with Uber for the last 3 months, told me that he has been driving taxis for the last 25 and for the first time ever, he has a bank balance of Rs.25,000 after all his payments. For the first time ever !! All thanks to Uber is what he said.

I had a long chat with him, to understand more about Uber from an employee’s perspective and these are some of the things he highlighted.

Efficiency

Uber has 6000 taxis registered in Bangalore. They manage the entire operation with 5 employees, Their technology is fantastic and they don’t spend money on ads. This money is used probably to improve technology and customer experience. They believe that word of mouth will help them increase their business, and thats why the focus has been on delivering better customer experience

Rewards

Their whole model is designed to make the drivers want to impress and be customer centric. At the end of every ride the passenger has to rate the driver ( this is mandatory) The driver gets paid Rs.50 for a 5 star rating Ravi explained o me that ‘all’ he has to do is be courteous, smile, drive well, keep the car clean, make conversation where necessary and there is a good chance he gets a 5 star rating. If he manages 4 of these in a day, he makes an additional Rs.6000 per month. Big money

Employees feel valued

Uber does not refer to them as ‘drivers’ They are called ‘ partners’. He said this with a lot of pride. No where in the internal communication are they referred to as drivers. From Day 1 this small thing makes them feel valued and increases their sense of belongingness. Other cab companies have now started copying this.

On time payouts

Salaries are never delayed. They get them weekly and on every Thursday . They get their statement on Monday and the money gets credited to their banks on Thursday. The incentive amounts are very transparent and he knows exactly how much he has made . Zero ambiguity

Continuous Feedback

Once a month they meet at Bhagini for tea and snacks. All customer feedback is discussed and they have brief sessions on Customer experience. The Uber employee gives them training on what they can do to make their customers more happy

I for one have never had a single one of these drivers speak badly about Uber and considering how they have grown, it is indeed remarkable to maintain such high levels of Employee satisfaction

The headlines this morning was that, Uber and 3 other operators have been sent off the roads in Karnataka I checked and was able to get myself a cab today too.So much for govt efficiency.

That said, what happened in Delhi should not have happened and I am deeply disturbed. I can only wish them luck and pray that the devil is not on their side. From an employee perspective though, they seem to have got their basics right. Explains their success so far.

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