10 Lessons Banks Can Learn From a Limo Company [Uber Innovation]

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6. Social Member Get Member

Buzz Marketing is so much easier today with social and Uber shows us just that. They celebrate moments with you. Your first ride. Their anniversary. All of these moments are used to send you links to share your experience and empower you to give a discounts to your friends. And its not about giving, get friends to use them and get credits. Uber is paying its customers to market in the best currency it has – its service which also ensures throughput and growth.

Lesson for Banks? When we delight customers we should give them the chance to share this with others and ‘pay it forward’ in simple social ways that extend our loyalty loop. Bit harder with complex services but possible.

7. Buzz Marketing

Uber does not spend on ‘above the line’ marketing. Instead as Gigaom described it lets its customers do the job with word of mouth marketing. From on demand ice cream trucks
to celebration parties (I was actually invited to a cocktail party after a favourable tweet) Uber recruits young urban, smartphone owning individuals to be evangelists. Some of this cannot be measured by analytics but it’s what brings out Uber’s brand personality.

Lesson for Banks? Focus on delighting customers and recruit them to be your marketing team. And while the internet is the most measurable channel let’s not forget to trust our gut and do things that Kotler may not have written about.

8. World Class Service Recovery

Bad experiences happen and once in awhile we don’t live up to the growing expectations of the customers. But what really matters is how we recover. Uber did this brilliantly recently when I tried the service during their beta and could not get a cab. They wrote a note that seemed heartfelt and gave me credits for my next journey. Not only did they convert me to a
customer they took a detractor and made him a fan instantly and made it easy for me to tweet and share this.

Lesson for Banks? Accept service recovery as a cost of doing business and empower service staff not just to resolve but also promote services. This requires budgets, investing in people and giving them the freedom to interact with customers with a single metric of delighting customers. It is not just good service but also good business.

9. Crowdsourced Scalable Biz Model

There is a lot to admire about Uber’s but what is their secret sauce in my opinion is their business model. They have scaled rapidly and globally in an industry notorious with its large infrastructure and operational costs. They did this by tapping into the latent supply of limo drivers around the world creating a variable model where the only capital investment is a loaned iPhone handed to the no doubt delighted driver with their app on it.

Lesson for Banks? In the new world order do we need to own expensive infrastructure to be be able to deliver a great experience or do we focus on becoming tech companies with great
software and experiences and shared infrastructure with partners who share in a growing pie.

10. Sweating the Small Stuff

Predictive Analytics: Uber has been busy collecting data that it now uses to create capacity models to maximise between drivers ‘idle time’ and riders ‘wait time’. Example, they claim to know exactly how many taxis to send to downtown SFO for Giant’s game and beat this – they change the model if the Giant’s win (demand rises) or lose (opposite).

Cancellation Policy: Many cab drivers complain bitterly about customers cancelling on them at the last minute. They are committed once they take a call the customer isn’t. Uber now has your credit card so they did something simple. Cancel your cab more than five minutes after and you get a fee that goes to the driver.

Enterprise Edition: Uber Perks introduced this year now lets companies offer taxi credit’s at discounts to its employees. Happy employees, smarter billing, breakage if they don’t use their credits and tapping in to a whole new segment.

Lesson for Banks? Creating a profitable proposition isn’t only about adding value but also eliminating value destroying elements.


Unfortunately, I haven’t had the chance to try Uber‘s limo services yet, but I will certainly give it a go next time I am in Munich or Paris!  What a fascinating example of how to leverage technology to remove the frictions (even the financial ones i.e. mobile payments) and simplify people’s lives on daily basis.

A big thank you to Aman Narain for delivering such a strong first guest article as a Visible Banking Star.  And please bear with us, Aman is already working on his next two articles which are going to give you more insights on Standard Chartered’s commitment to digital banking innovations and customer experience excellence.

What do you think of Uber’s model?  Has your bank ever launched an innovative digital banking service with a best-of-breed customer experience?  I invite you to share your best practices here or on twitter.

What do you think?

Written by Aman Narain

Aman is the Global Head of Digital Banking for Standard Chartered and is responsible for all direct to consumer channels, including Online, Mobile & ATM’s, in 36 markets across Asia, Africa and the Middle East.
Leading the largest, fastest growing and most loved channels in the Bank, Aman splits his time between being a Futurist and an Operational Chief.

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