Harry right here. I’ll be touring to New York this week so shall be just a little sluggish to answer e-mails however hopefully everybody had a terrific Thanksgiving. If you’re studying this, I’m grateful for each certainly one of you for subscribing to this website and supporting my efforts right here. I actually do recognize it.
Today, senior RSG contributor John Ince takes a take a look at a couple of of the week’s prime tales together with Uber’s new ‘compliments’ function that appeared to rub lots of drivers the wrong way – probably as a result of it wasn’t the one function drivers actually need. What’s the one function you’d wish to see Uber add to the driving force app?
Uber Wants To Make Drivers’ Jobs Easier With ‘Compliments’ [Wired]
Sum and Substance: Starting immediately, if you give your Uber driver a five-star score, your app will ask you to offer them somewhat additional suggestions. It’s not obligatory, however in case you select, you may give them a sticker that claims one thing like “Awesome DJ!” or “Great car!” or “Above and beyond!” Or you’ll be able to faucet a immediate on the backside of the display and depart your driver a extra personalised thank-you notice. Drivers will see these stickers and notes within the suggestions part of their app, which can tally all of the accolades they obtain.
Uber calls the function Compliments, and sees it as the start of what might finally be a strong tradition shift inside its group. The firm has all the time labored onerous to make its product interesting to riders. But drivers? If you’ve adopted the protests and lawsuits and fights over employment advantages, you recognize that Uber’s drivers haven’t all the time felt all that nicely taken care of. And that’s an issue on an entire bunch of ranges. It’s extremely necessary for Uber that its platform be interesting to drivers. That’s apparent, proper? Without drivers, there isn’t a Uber. So for the previous few months, Uber has been working to make the expertise within the automotive extra nice, not only for the rider, however for the driving force.
“What we’re trying to do is rebalance that scale,” says Amritha Prasad, Uber’s product design lead. The suggestions system was a logical place to start out. “It’s the thing all drivers ask me all the time—I want feedback, I want feedback,” says Mike Truong, a senior product supervisor at Uber. The five-star score system—which distills all the things concerning the service a driver does or doesn’t present right into a quantity—has all the time been insufficient on this regard. So a lot so, in truth, that, a couple of months in the past, Uber briefly thought-about ditching it completely. But not one of the proposed options actually caught.
The designers on Truong’s staff created mockups of an emoji-based system. No cube. They tried a thumbs-up, thumbs-down, thumbs-sideways factor. That didn’t work, both. Everyone simply gave a thumbs-up, making it seem like all the things was nice, even when it wasn’t. Ultimately, they landed again on the five-star score as the fitting solution to finish a journey.
What Uber actually wanted was a method for riders to offer extra nuanced suggestions—not only for dangerous, mediocre, and good rides, however for nice, excellent, and distinctive ones. Uber’s spent loads of time engaged on what customers can and will do when one thing goes improper on a experience. But just lately the group’s focus has shifted a bit. They really feel prefer it’s working, like Uber is sweet at doing the essential factor it does, to a primary commonplace of high quality. So they began asking: How can we have fun the drivers who’re doing particularly properly? The ones who’ve gum and water, who play the perfect music, who’ve the good automobiles. How can Uber assist them determine the issues their riders most recognize, and make them really feel higher about their additional effort?
My Take: This easy transfer has turned out to be extra controversial that I think Uber anticipated. On its floor, the notion of asking passengers to offer drivers compliments is a really value efficient method for Uber to curry favor with drivers. Think of the psychology right here. Whenever I might get a low score earlier than this transfer, I instantly questioned who dinged me. The previous means set in movement a downward spiral of thought, as I mentally scanned my current rides to seek out the offender.
This transfer reverses the psychology. Driver’s begin questioning who complimented them and it shifts considering from adverse to constructive. And guess what? It hardly value Uber something, past the engineering value. Good transfer Uber, hope to see extra of them.
But wait, there’s extra. The Verge adopted up with a narrative on this that was principally a knock towards Uber. The Verge story headlined, Uber adds another way to compliment drivers without actually tipping them. That famous, I don’t take difficulty with the Verge interpretation; personally I like the brand new function. I’d prefer it much more if Uber included a tipping choice with it. Your ideas?
Uber coverage change will permit non-violent ex-cons to take the wheel [NY Post]
Sum and Substance: Uber is reportedly set to make use of individuals convicted of being prostitutes in a daring new scheme designed to provide reformed criminals the prospect to show their lives round. The taxi app is getting ready to vary its guidelines in some American states so individuals with non-violent convictions can start working as drivers.
This signifies that ex-sex staff can take to the street, in addition to individuals who have convictions for harassment, resisting arrest, petty theft or minor property injury. The guidelines have already come into drive in California however shall be rolled out in Connecticut at first of subsequent yr. On his Facebook web page, founder Travis Kalanick wrote: “Millions of Americans have served their time and want to earn an honest living. “To break the cycle of recidivism, we need to give them a second chance.” Anyone who has been convicted of a extra critical crime inside the previous seven years will nonetheless be banned from driving for Uber.
My Take: Folks, we will’t make these things up. Add two extra states to Uber CEO Travis Kalanick’s social trigger to “break the cycle of recidivism.” Yes, and now a fortunate few riders not solely within the Big Apple and California, but in addition in Connecticut and Rhode Island could also be given a journey house by a former prostitute or topless dancer. Does this increase ridership or scare individuals away? Your ideas?
Rule-breakers convey darkish aspect to ride-share tradition [Star Tribune]
Sum and Substance: An Uber and Lyft driver waited to select up passengers at Lagoon and Hennepin avenues in Minneapolis after bar closing time in August. The automobiles began lining up an hour earlier than pop music star Gwen Stefani wrapped up her live performance at St. Paul’s Xcel Energy Center.
As 5,000 concertgoers streamed out of the world, the drivers went to work. “Do you want an Uber ride?” requested one. Another held up an enormous piece of paper marked “Uber” and advised passersby they might save some huge cash by paying him money for a experience. In the scramble to get house, it was unimaginable for patrons to inform which of the drivers truly labored for Uber.
Half the automobiles weren’t displaying company logos, as required by regulation. Most of the drivers brazenly solicited potential clients on the road or agreed to take money for a experience, techniques which might be unlawful for Uber drivers. Such scenes have turn into widespread within the Twin Cities, the place Uber and the rival service Lyft now present extra rides than conventional taxicabs. Operating with little metropolis oversight and fewer stringent guidelines than taxis, an off-the-cuff and harmful ride-sharing tradition has emerged during which individuals casually hail unmarked automobiles and barter for rides.
Uber and Lyft each inform clients they shouldn’t get in automobiles until they first e-book their experience by means of the businesses’ telephone apps. But many individuals ignore the warnings, accepting rides from strangers who typically become predators.
At least 5 ladies within the Twin Cities have been kidnapped or assaulted by males who introduced themselves as Uber drivers up to now two years, police studies present. In Atlanta, Los Angeles and different cities, males pretending to work for Uber have been charged with attacking ladies after luring them into their automobiles.
Chicago police warned final yr of robbers posing as Uber drivers. “The whole idea behind this service was that people were supposed to know what they were getting,” stated St. Paul Council Member Dan Bostrom, a former policeman. “I am concerned that folks are putting their lives in the hands of somebody they don’t know in a vehicle they don’t know anything about.”
My Take: There have been a flurry of tales operating on this theme: pretend drivers, imposters, rule breakers all making a buck off the platform and probably rendering the service much less protected. These are critical points they usually principally fall upon the passenger to make completely positive to confirm the id of the driving force on the platform. While virtually all the examples cited in these tales got here again to a careless passenger, the purpose stays that folks will do something to make a fast, unlawful buck – or they could be in it for much more harmful causes. Trust, however confirm, earlier than you get into any Uber or Lyft car you name.
How Uber Drivers Decide How Long to Work [New York Times]
Sum and Substance: The ride-hailing firm Uber is greatest recognized for upending the taxi business. Now it might be making waves within the economics career as nicely. For almost 20 years, economists have been debating how cabdrivers determine when to name it a day.
This might appear to be a trivial query, however it’s one which cuts to the guts of whether or not people are basically rational — on this case, whether or not they earn their incomes effectively — because the self-discipline has historically assumed. In one camp is a gaggle of so-called behavioral economists who’ve discovered proof that many taxi drivers work longer hours on days when enterprise is sluggish and shorter hours when enterprise is brisk — the other of what financial rationality, to say nothing of widespread sense, would appear to dictate.
In one other camp is a gaggle of extra orthodox economists who argue that this perverse behavior is essentially an phantasm within the eyes of sure researchers. Once you seek the advice of extra exact numbers, they argue, you discover that drivers sometimes work longer hours when it’s of their monetary curiosity to take action. The query has implications for different staff, like farmers and small enterprise house owners. And it has taken on added significance because the so-called gig financial system grows, leaving extra individuals within the place of deciding what number of duties to carry out every day, from furnishings meeting to tagging pictures.
So who is true? That’s the place Uber is available in. When one of many firm’s researchers, utilizing its supremely detailed knowledge on drivers’ work time and rides, waded into the talk with a paper this yr, the outcomes have been intriguing. Over all, there was little proof that drivers have been driving much less once they might make extra per hour than normal. But that was not true for a big portion of latest drivers. Many of those drivers appeared to have an revenue aim in thoughts and stopped once they have been close to it, inflicting them to knock off sooner when their hourly wage was excessive and to work longer when their wage was low.
… “A substantial, although not most, fraction of partners do in fact come into the market with income targeting behavior,” the paper’s writer, Michael Sheldon, an Uber knowledge scientist, wrote. The conduct is then “rather quickly learned away in favor of more optimal decision making.” In impact, Mr. Sheldon was saying, the widely rational beings that the majority economists presume to exist are made, not born — no less than so far as their Uber driving is worried.
My Take: This is now a really previous article, however hey, it’s a sluggish week and I used to be saving this story for simply such a state of affairs, as a result of it’s an fascinating story – nicely researched, and thought frightening. How do you determine when to flip off the app?
Readers, what do you consider this week’s spherical up? Also, how’s your Thanksgiving driving weekend shaping up, when you determined to drive through the vacation?
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-John @ RSG
John Ince is a former Fortune reporter and Wall Street banker. He has about 1,000 rides underneath his belt driving half time for Uber and Lyft. He’s writing a ebook about his experiences entitled: Travels With Vanessa: A Rideshare Driver Tries To Make Sense of It all – For a sneak peak go to the hyperlink above.