customer experience driver's seat

Get In The Driver’s Seat of Your Customer Experience

Uber’s CEO and other executives recently took to the driver’s seat to fix some of their biggest customer experience issues. For years, drivers have complained about several pain points in the sign up and driving experience. After feeling the frustration for themselves, Uber’s executives took steps to improve the driver experience almost immediately.

The onboarding process was simplified and streamlined, drivers were given the ability to see destination and payment details ahead of time, and the app now reminds drivers when there’s a drink included with a food order.

For Uber, the driver experience was more important than they probably realized. 

Uber relies on a delicate balance between drivers and riders. If there aren’t enough drivers, riders experience long wait times and high fees. If there aren’t enough riders, drivers are left twiddling their thumbs and their hourly rate suffers.

Last year, Uber experienced a slowdown in driver recruitment. In response, Uber’s CEO, Dara Khosrowshahi secretly signed up as a driver to better understand their experiences. It was part of an initiative to get drivers back on the app called “Project Boomerang.”

He went through the process of becoming a new driver, just like every other driver would. This simple immersion into his company’s experience quickly illuminated several issues:

  • The onboarding process was confusing and clunky.
  • He quickly became annoyed because he couldn’t see destination and payment details before agreeing to a certain trip.
  • Despite his best efforts to remember, while picking up a food order for an UberEats customer, he forgot the customer’s drink.

Uber was essentially missing the real issues that led to a driver shortage: a frustrating app experience, and the overall experience was leaving drivers feeling unappreciated. Uber’s default tactics of offering financial incentives wasn’t fixing the problem.

The Best Way to Understand Your Customer’s Experience Is to Experience It Yourself

Customer-centric B2B businesses know that understanding and solving for client needs is the key to building long-lasting relationships with the individuals they serve. They step outside of the business to talk to customers and appreciate the challenges of the buying process, what drives their decisions, and what success looks like for them. One of the most effective ways to do this is by experiencing their customer’s experience first hand.

As we see with the Uber example, actually experiencing what it’s like to be your customer is one of the best ways to pinpoint your biggest issues. If possible, literally get into the driver’s seat like Uber did. Use your own product or service exactly like a real customer would. To add extra legitimacy to this tactic and catch your team performing how they usually do, use an alias and don’t tell anyone what you’re doing.

When you get into the driver’s seat of your own customer experience, you might be tempted to dismiss surface issues, but don’t until you dig deeper. These pain points may be symptoms of more fundamental issues in your business. For example, Uber’s leadership didn’t give the signup process a pass just because it technically worked. When they found himself confused and/or frustrated while signing up, he knew there was a bigger issue at hand.


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Experiencing your customers’ experience can provide valuable insights into the effectiveness of your business processes and systems. You’ll be able to identify bottlenecks, inefficiencies, and areas where you can improve your operations. For instance, if you notice that your customers are frustrated with long wait times on the phone, you can invest in more customer service representatives to improve your response times.

Consider asking existing customers to provide you with valuable customer experience feedback. For example, the Uber leadership team could have asked for feedback from dedicated full-time drivers—the lifeblood of that side of the company.

Experiencing your customers’ experience can also help you empathize with them. You’ll understand their needs, concerns, and preferences, allowing you to tailor your service to meet their specific requirements. This empathy can lead to better customer relationships, increased loyalty, and positive word-of-mouth marketing.

Finally, treat this new approach as on-going review of your business, rather than a one-time check. Build it into your operation as an ongoing process to increase the likelihood of finding issues before they become bigger problems. You should continuously seek feedback, engage with your customers, and monitor your business’s performance to identify areas for improvement.

By adopting these practices, you’ll gain a better understanding of their needs and frustrations, empathize with them, and identify issues that may be hindering their experience. This insight leads to improved customer relationships, increased loyalty, and positive word-of-mouth. Additionally, experiencing your customers’ experience can provide valuable insights into the effectiveness of your business processes and systems, allowing you to streamline operations and improve your bottom line.


So, get in the driver’s seat of your business!


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