When thinking about transformative, disruptive technologies in the past decade, ride-sharing is arguably the go-to example of emerging brands coming to market to solve real-world problems in new, simple, and near-entirely customer-centric ways.
Brands such as Uber, FreeNow and Bolt are all now major players in cities across the UK and Europe. And while the market is experiencing a bounce-back across locations where Covid-19 lockdown measures have eased or disappeared completely, brands face the double challenge of retaining regular customers and trying to stay ahead of the ever-increasing competition.
Because consumers in major cities today don’t just have the option of hailing a ride-share, they can hop on a bike, ride an e-scooter, or in some cases, even jump on the back of a motorcycle.
This is why customer experience is so crucial for ride-sharing
Consumers are expecting more and more from the ridesharing sector. They want quick experiences which are personalised. They want price transparency. They want environmentally-friendly options such as electric cars, e-scooters and bikes. And if they’re going to choose you, they want you to be markedly better than your competitors.
Other users are part of the ride-share ecosystem, and their experience also needs to be considered, too. Drivers themselves are increasingly using multiple apps at once. They move between them – even while driving to the next job. If they don’t have a good experience, they won’t be passing down that experience to your customers either.
Plus, given that drivers for many companies in the ridesharing sector are what leads to shorter waiting times and availability of service – retaining drivers, and delivering experiences that make them use your app more than your competitors, are ultimately critical to the success of your business.
Covid-19 and Customer Disloyalty: Putting the ride-sharing sector into context
With cities in lockdown and social distancing measures in place, it’s unsurprising that the ride-sharing market suffered at times when Covid-19 was at its worst.
In June 2021, The Journal of Urban Management published data showing that trip rates for the biggest name in ride-sharing, Uber, fell by as much as 77% in London and Paris during Covid-19.
In the same report, sentiment analysis across Twitter during this time found that negativity for ride-sharing in general increased.
Customer complaints also increased during this time. But as Uber and others were quick to take precautions against Covid-19, increase car availability, offer discounts and drop prices, satisfaction levels were also seen to rise.
A similar study conducted in China and published at the National Library of Medicine looks at the habits of both ride-sharing customers and drivers during and after Covid-19.
The report's headline findings see ride-sharing boast a strong recovery as lockdowns in Chinese cities were eased. The research also noted some interesting trends concerning consumer habits. It found:
“As the number of COVID-19 cases increases, drivers tend to receive more requests from the booking aggregator channel, where passengers can select from a list of service providers. At the same time, we see a significant decrease in requests received via the focal company’s own booking app channel.Such patterns imply that during the pandemic, perhaps due to the shrinkage in overall supplies, passengers tend to switch from a single ride-sharing service provider to booking aggregators, so that they can have a wider range of choices and hence a higher chance of getting a ride.”
This kind of brand disloyalty was typical among consumers in all areas of retail and services during Covid-19. Shoppers switched supermarket brands to find delivery slots, alternative fulfilment options and products they couldn’t get in the usual places.
Likewise, more customers turned to new brands online, such as HelloFresh for groceries, Who Gives a Crap for toilet rolls, and Birchbox for beauty products.
Ride-sharing was no different. Indeed it might be worse. In a Chattermill analysis of over 800,000 pieces of customer feedback across the biggest five ridesharing companies, we see that customer loyalty has dropped significantly and continues to decrease.
And as many CPG customers have opted to stick with new brands and/or channels they’ve discovered during the pandemic, ride-share companies have to fight hard to keep their customers coming back now they’re more likely to have experienced what their competitors have to offer. It’s a tough tangle to untie. Especially with widespread driver shortages and price pressures.
Beating the competition on CX
Ride-sharing companies often face competition from global market leaders and localised players. Increasingly, customer experience is proving to be the differentiator for both riders and drivers.
Within the ride-share apps themselves, better personalisation makes it easier for customers to book rides with a single tap. In some cases, GPS data can even help brands suggest pick-up locations that are nearby but less congested to ensure drivers can pull over safely.
Price and payment options are a big deal in ride-sharing too. Some brands boast pricing that rises and falls during busy and less busy times. Others maintain fixed pricing – appealing to users who want to know precisely what they’ll pay before they ride.
Price has also become even more of a challenge in the past 18 months. Ridesharing companies have been forced into two positions: keep prices low for customers, and risk losing drivers to competitors. Or increase prices to attract more drivers, and risk losing customers to competitors. A tough call, no doubt.
We’re also seeing ride-share companies increasingly diversify their offerings when it comes to modes of transport.
The introduction of E-scooters and bicycles now gives consumers a more environmentally-friendly, active option to get around. In the UK, some apps include the traditional black cabs within their pool, while in Indonesia and other less economically developed countries where traffic can be an issue, it’s possible to hail a ride on the back of a motorcycle. It’s a truly diverse world when it comes to ridesharing.
For drivers, different apps also provide varying CX-oriented perks. These include being able to rate (and view the ratings of) customers, 24/7 support, instant messaging and in-app navigation. In many countries, providing these features is a bare minimum.
Transparency and safety are also a big part of whether drivers decide to log into an app or choose a job – alongside convenience, commission rates and bonuses. To ensure your drivers stick with you, you need to incorporate all of these factors into your offering, offer competitive pricing, and do it better than your competitors. No easy ask.
How Chattermill can help ride-sharing businesses improve their CX
As we have already seen, customer sentiment is crucial for understanding the experience ride-share users have in near real-time. This, paired with analysis of hard data from touchpoints such as apps, ensures ride-share brands have the complete picture from which to optimise their CX.
But to get this full picture, we need to get a unified view of our customers. And to achieve this, we need a technology that enables you to integrate support data, in-app data, customer reviews and surveys.
We call this Unified Customer Intelligence.
This allows ride-share brands to see the true customer sentiment and makes it easy to break out different customer groups and segment them by different challenges and problems.
Just how loyal are younger ride-share users to your app? Why are drivers cancelling trips en route? What are the points of friction for customers in London compared to Paris?
Chattermill can show you.
And if you want to easily segment and differentiate between customer groups like riders and drivers, and understand what matters for each (just to really connect the dots), we can show you that, too.
Our goal at Chattermill is to help ride-share brands find issues and pain points in their CX and strategise how best to approach resolving them. All based on what your customers think and feel.
From immediate discounts to better in-app support – brands need to know how these responses play out in the real world. Are they really delighting your customers and your drivers?
Chattermill uses AI to better process this data at scale – which is critical for brands seeing rapid growth as they move into new cities.
Our tool can also help analyse the feedback your brands are getting and compare it to the performance of your competitors. New names are always coming to market. And established brands are fast diversifying their offering. It’s a competitive world. And it helps to be ahead of the curve.
After all, users of the ride-share ecosystem – whether they are riders or drivers – are quick to give their loyalty to another app if they aren’t getting a convenient, safe, and tailored service, all at a competitive price.
It’s always been a customer-centric world in ridesharing. Now, it’s more customer-centric and more competitive than ever. With Chattermill, you can ensure you’re always one step ahead of the pack.