Banking innovation. Aman Narain – Global Head of Digital Banking at Standard Chartered shares his excitment for a tech company ‘Uber’ aka the ‘Apple’ of Limo’s and its inspired focus on design, technology and business models.
As you know, I am a big fan of the Standard Chartered Breeze team. My friend Aman Narain successfully built arguable the most passionate and fun digital banking team in the worldwide financial services industry. No less.
With this article, I am delighted to confirm that he has now officially joined our exclusive group of guest bloggers on Visible Banking. Aman, welcome to the VB Stars!
For his first contribution, Aman opted to share his excitement for a tech company (not so) far from the banking industry, Uber – ‘everyone’s private driver’. I invite you to read Aman’s article and find out how much bankers and insurers can learn from this startup.
Uber: The ‘Apple’ of Taxis Limo’s
Couple of weeks back I was introduced to a service called Uber. A limo service (they insist they are not a Taxi Company, more later) with a big difference – they actually are a tech company that has embraced the experience economy and is changing the way you think about cabs.
Founded by serial entrepreneurs Travis Kalanik and Garret Camp (StumbleUpon) they have raised over USD 32 Mn in Series B funding from Jeff Bezos, Menlo Ventures & Goldman Sachs in just 18 months of operations and scaled to over 25 cities globally including Paris where they got the idea to create the service which launched in 2009 in SFO.
But what is truly impressive is how they have overcome regulation and taken an industry that was commoditized and static by storm. They redefined its value curve and challenged convention to find a profitable play that evokes the same inspired thinking like Apple or Zappos or ZipCar. To do this they focussed on design, technology and business models. Sounds familiar? Well actually not if you are in the Banking industry, maybe it doesn’t, and here’s 10 ways we could learn from them…
1. Simple World Class App
The most powerful thing about Uber is its app. Simple, intuitive and intelligent it just takes all the pain out of waiting for a cab. Booking a cab has never been easier with geo location based on your activities and those of others, who have been in the same spot before.
Waiting or wondering when where your cab is, is no longer a guessing game. You get a map with the location of your cab, time of arrival and details of your cab driver including his name and phone number. And when your ride is around the corner a gentle sms alert reminds you to make tracks to your pick-up point.
Lesson for Banks? I have not yet seen such a seamless offline and online integration of services in Banking. Plenty to learn from here!
2. Consistent Service Experience
Early days yet but in the last two weeks every time I stepped into an Uber it feels exactly the same. The car looks the same externally and internally. The driver offers you a bottled water, checks on the temperature and asks you for your radio preference. Travelling from Singapore to San Francisco the experience you can expect is exactly the same (with more option on car sizes in SFO) just like Singapore Airlines. The big difference is Uber doesn’t own a single car. They are all private limo owners and yet provide the same consistent service. All that in 18 months.
Lesson for International Banks? Flavours are overrated if you have one simple, consistent, awesome offer for customers globally and that itself could be the killer feature customers are looking for.
3. Seamless Payments
Disruptive plays in payments are a hot topic with plenty of talk about contactless, mobile, social and NFC payments. IMHO the folks at Uber have nailed it on payments. They have peeled back all the hype and focussed on the core experience, making it seamless by storing your card details and credits. So when your ride is done no fiddling with coins, no waiting for a card swipe, you just step out and thank the driver. Uber charges your card deducts their 20% and the limo driver’s account is credited including a tip if you pre configure your app to give one based on your rating.
Lesson for Banks? Focus on the experience and creating value through mutually beneficial outcomes will lead to disruption. Technology is the enabler not the answer.
4. Making a Statement
One of the delights of using Uber is getting your receipt by email once your ride is done. If you are a business user this is just super useful as you no longer have to store a stash of receipts as you travel the world. In fact you can log on to their website and print all old receipts when you need them. And they aren’t some ascii code mystery notes to decipher later. Instead they are packed with information about your ride complete with a map. Also making the drivers life easier with no in car printer needed.
Lesson for Banks? Customers transact everyday on us how much insight and ease do we create for them and the people serving them.
5. Monetized Real Time Analytics
When your ride is completed Uber prompts you to rate your experience. In fact it insists you do so before your next ride. The reason – consistency of service. If a drivers ratings fall they get warned with consistent low ratings resulting in them being taken out, which, given the variable cost model of Uber, is easy. Meanwhile Uber know exactly how you are feeling about their service which allows them to crunch this data with their Phd’s to come back to you with relevant offers.
Lesson for Banks? Plenty of talk about big data and analytics. But let’s not forget that little insights collected frequently when acted on make a big difference to customer loyalty. Especially when you are offering a premium service. And connect your Phd’s to your marketing folks that’s when you delight the customer.