Uber drivers want a lot of things, but most of them just want to be paid in the quickest and easiest way possible. With that in mind, Uber announced the latest effort in his never-ending quest to repair his tarnished relationships with drivers: an application for the redesigned driver. The application is much less saturated with a better method of tracking general gains and solutions that solve connectivity problems. But it also gives more prominence to the characteristics that some consider psychological incentives to influence when, where and how long drivers work.
"Built for drivers, with drivers"
When redesigning the application, Uber did something it rarely does: it consulted and tested with hundreds of controllers in more than half a dozen cities before implementing it globally, and their suggestions and comments influenced the final product. This more collaborative strategy allows Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi, who personally tested the application before giving it the green light, using soundbites as "designed for drivers, with drivers".
Before going into the design process, let's talk about the differences in the application. An income tracker is now at the top of the screen, allowing drivers to know how much they earned since they connected and how many trips they completed. It also allows quick access to "quests", "badges" and other gamified elements of the controller application that critics dismiss as psychological tricks meant to keep drivers on the road longer. Uber argues that these features are popular with drivers because they often put more money in their pockets.
For example, drivers are rewarded with bonuses for completing 20 trips in a given period of time, or they can earn badges for good comments from passengers. Some drivers complain that these characteristics dehumanize the driving experience for Uber, while others tout their searches and badges with pride. The redesigned driver application puts many of these features front and center.
"We realized that many drivers do not even realize they are in these [quests] and then receive a bonus later," says Yuhki Yamashita, Uber product manager for experiences with drivers. "They do not realize everything that happens because the application does not really put that information in the foreground, it was practically buried, these are some of the areas where we want to make sure drivers have a lot of visibility."
Drivers will certainly appreciate transparency, but it is not clear how well they respond to this type of incentive. (Lyft employs similar methods to encourage its drivers, as do other concert economy companies such as Postmates). Uber drivers are independent contractors who lack many of the benefits and protections of salaried employment. Uber argues that this gives drivers the flexibility to work to their liking and be their own boss, but some drivers feel that they are at the mercy of the Uber algorithm.
"I'm curious to see how the 'Uber driving gamification' continues, as I do not think Uber and his drivers always have aligned interests," says Harry Campbell, a former Uber driver who runs the site. from The Rideshare Guy. "Drivers want to work as little as possible for as much money as possible, so sudden trips and weekly promotions are so important." Uber is looking to maximize a driver's efficiency and get them to work more for the same amount of money "
Instead of bombarding drivers with text messages about the price increase, the new application will highlight the areas of the city where the highest fares are in force and start the navigation process as a way to push drivers harder. to certain parts of the city. Yamashita says the goal was to get drivers away from their daily habits and guide them to places where they can earn more money.
"Some of the suggestions we might have for a way forward may surprise you," he says. "It turns out that many people have this pattern that they build on the basis of tribal knowledge, you know, their daily habits on how to drive in. It may be that conditions change and they do not have all the information necessary to make the right movements."
The new application also seeks to solve a common problem with network connectivity, especially in those cities in emerging markets. Often, drivers in dead zones on the Internet will have to drive beyond the delivery location, sometimes to the next city, before finding network connectivity to complete a trip. The new application will record the location of the driver's GPS on the phone so that a trip can end even in the absence of a signal.
The "feed" of the application, with information on insurance, driving lessons and other things specific market information that Uber sends to drivers, was reused as an input tray so that drivers can review certain items without fear of losing them. The driver's rating page was also redesigned to include passenger compliments and the total number of trips completed during his lifetime. The goal, says Yamashita, was to let the drivers know that they were more than the sum total of their qualifications.
Last year, amid the numerous scandals and lawsuits that affected the company, Uber launched its "180 days of change" effort to improve relations with drivers. Highlights included a new in-app propulsion option for drivers, allowing drivers to send messages to passengers, additional layers of comments for incorrect classifications, and more money for off-route pickups.
Uber sees the redesigned application as Phase 2 in a continuous effort to reinforce driver loyalty. Lyft, emboldened by the Uber public relations disaster and the recent funding of investors like Google, began to promote itself as the "driver friendly" alternative. Uber's only play was to involve drivers directly in their efforts to build better features. Before launching the new application, Uber consulted with hundreds of drivers and the beta version of the application in seven cities: Cairo, Bangalore, Jakarta, London, Melbourne, Los Angeles and São Paulo. "2017 taught us the importance of listening carefully to our customers and that the right thing was not simply to quickly implement this new product no matter how much we believed in it," says Yamashita.
The current version of the application was designed by 30 engineers, while the redesigned application is the final product of more than 300 engineers, says Haider Sabri, engineering director of the Uber driver experience team. The goal was to design it for Uber drivers, but also for those who drive UberEats, UberPool and any future transport services that the company has not yet launched.
"The drivers worry about the payment first".
The new application will be a big business among Uber drivers, who number in the millions worldwide. Most will focus on changes in earnings, says The Rideshare Guy & # 39; s Campbell. "Drivers worry about the payment in the first place, so any improvement or change in the application is definitely welcome, but unless they affect the final outcome of a driver, I do not think a redesigned application will move the needle much for the drivers ".
Most drivers agree that the application needed some improvements. "There are times when the application freezes and does not show the driver moving towards the driver, which causes frustration and cancellations," says Noemi Torres, host of Uber Black in Los Angeles. "That needs to be fixed."
But for Torres and thousands of other drivers, the biggest concerns with Uber are not software-based; they are with the fundamental relationship between Uber and its drivers. "Uber needs to understand that while the brokers are the ones who pay for the service, the drivers are the ones who provide the service, and we keep our side of the bargain," says Torres, who has a rating of 4.96 after four years and 7,000. trips for Uber. "We drivers are the face of Uber, however, we are mistreated, poorly paid, undervalued, without medical insurance, without benefits, without 401K or retirement … However, Uber has the sustainability of this business model due to the unlimited number of drivers willing to work, in some cases below the minimum wage ".