5 Lessons You Can Learn From Uber
Uber burst onto the scene in San Francisco in 2010 and quickly earned the interest of big-name investors. In the years that followed, the company has achieved phenomenal growth, winning many loyal fans and becoming a role model for other startup founders. A term has even emerged for this trend made up of many crowdsourcing-based service businesses: uberization.
But businesses are gaining inspiration from Uber in ways that extend well beyond the company’s business model. Entrepreneurs look to Uber as an example of the value of making fans out of customers and admirers out of onlookers. To help you emulate this in your own business, here are five lessons you can learn from Uber’s success.
Make Ordering Simple
In any city where Uber is available, customers only have to order a car through the Uber app and generally a driver will show up in just a few minutes. The app makes it easy for both drivers and passengers to accept or decline, rather than simply connecting random strangers without context.
Uber’s ease of use has inspired many businesses to adopt similar business models. Customers no longer want to pick up the phone to order services or make appointments. By adding appointment scheduling to websites and apps, businesses can capture the customers who want an easy way to order services.
Make Payment Easy
The process of providing services and invoicing after the fact can lead to late and missed payments. To make things easier for customers and improve cash flow, make sure your employees can swipe cards on site easily, or if desired, have customer card information pre-entered so it can be charged when needed.
For small businesses, there are options that don’t require extra hardware or a merchant account. When employees can accept credit cards using the smartphones they already have, both your customers and employees will enjoy the convenience.
Meet Customer Demand
Uber moved into a marketplace with a solution to a problem that has long frustrated customers. Before crowdsourced car services, getting from Point A to Point B without a car required relying on public transportation or taxicabs. Customers were dissatisfied by the service they received while using those options.
By connecting drivers with everyday people, Uber both satisfied that problem and created money-making opportunities for its partners. By having the innovation to see a need and meet it in a unique and useful way, you’ll connect with customers from the start.
Disrupt an Existing Industry
Instead of merely competing with taxis, buses, and trains, Uber created a new way to do things using the technology of today. Success comes from seeing a problem and finding a way to address it. But while many people have great ideas, creating a truly successful business out of those ideas requires passion and hard work.
It’s important that the identified problem affect as large a number of people as possible. To disrupt an entire industry, Uber had to create a solution that excited a large population, rather than simply connect with a few people.
Care About Customers
Uber is no stranger to negative publicity, but the company continues to keep customers as its focal point. The company built its model on customer feedback, with reviews serving as an important part of the business. Contrast that with what happens when customers complain about taxicab drivers and you’ll see why Uber has become so popular.
When a company makes customers part of the experience, as Uber has done, customers feel valued. If a customer brings an issue to your attention, you should make a point to show you care about that opinion, even if the customer seems to be in the wrong.
Uber has experienced impressive growth by doing several very important things correctly. A potent combination of savvy business moves and aggressive expansion has the company valued at more than $40 billion. Like many success stories, the company can teach entrepreneurs about creating loyal customers and sustaining success over time. We’ll all be watching Uber in the years ahead to see how it will build on what it has created.
A journalist and digital consultant, John Boitnott has worked at TV, newspapers, radio and Internet companies in the U.S. for 20 years. He’s an advisor at StartupGrind and has written for NBC, Inc Magazine, Entrepreneur, Due, USAToday, BusinessInsider and Venturebeat among others.