Uber focuses on driver loyalty in bid to boost customer experience

Taxi-hailing app Uber has taken the unusual step of focusing on driver, rather than consumer, loyalty as it looks to improve customer experience and therefore retention and continue its UK expansion.

Momentum

The new loyalty programme, dubbed Momentum, offers drivers that have completed 250 trips or more perks such as free MOTs, a 35% discount on servicing bills and deals on hot drinks from Coffee Republic. The aim is to roll out further rewards in the coming months, offering drivers up to £900 worth of benefits every year by working with brands in various areas, particular lifestyle and automotive.

Speaking to Marketing Week, Uber’s European head of business development, Fraser Robinson, said the aim of the service is to drive engagement and loyalty among its driver partners and, therefore, boost customer retention.

Its success will be judged on engagement, which Uber measures in trips per week or hours that drivers use the service, as well as how many new drivers it signs up. Uber hopes current drivers will use the perks and then recommend the service to others in the taxi community.

“The relationship between the driver and the rider is so symbiotic – they feed off one another. What riders look for in an experience is first of all availability – they want to know they can get a ride quickly and that’s why the first thing you see when you open up the app is how far away the nearest car is. Beyond that, it is about comfort, safety, having a courteous driver – all those things that go into a great customer experience.

“What makes this work is having happy, engaged, enthusiastic drivers. The customer will benefit by availability and having a great, engaged, quality experience.”

Uber criticism

Uber has come in for criticism from the Licensed Taxi Drivers Association in the UK, along with its peers in Europe, which argues that the app is a taximeter – which only licensed cab drivers are allowed to use. It organised a protest in London last year (11 June) with the aim of bringing the city to a standstill.

It has taken its case against Uber to the High Court after Transport for London, which regulates taxis, decided the service did not flout the rules.

Robinson admitted it has seen “friction” from the wider industry, although said this has not been as vehement in the UK as in other countries, highlighting that Uber operates “within the framework of the law in London”.

“The thing about innovating when incumbents are in a place for a long time is that change comes with friction and we are certainly seeing that. Regulators globally are looking at what we are doing with sensible and sane eyes because the consumer likes it,” he added.

Focus on growth

Robinson said Uber is considering launching a customer-focused loyalty programme in future that will look more like the schemes run by airlines and department stores.

However at the moment, it is focused on engaging customers through rewards such as free rides and attracting new ones through its “Give 10, Get 10” referral scheme which offers customers £10 in credit for them and a friend if their friends uses the app.

Sarah Slater, UK marketing manager at Uber, said: “We are a lot about referrals. We have a very positive customer base excited about the brand and keen to talk about us. We want to encourage new people to try the service eand thank customers who are promoting us.”

Having expanded to Manchester and Leeds last year there are more launches on the horizon, with Uber looking to tailor its service based on local needs. It will also continue with what Slater called its “on-demand stunts” – where it offers to deliver items such as ice-creams or cocktails to customers – and keeping those fresh and relevant with a particular focus on tying up with local restaurants to offer a food-delivery service.

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