After a productive business trip to London, I was eager to fly home to California. I woke up early, packed and quickly snagged an UberX with a short six-minute wait to whirl over to Paddington and grab the Heathrow Express. Perfect timing.
Unfortunately, my morning did not go quite so smoothly. After nearly an hour and a half later – navigating through construction sites, one-way streets and crazy traffic – I was still one block away from Paddington Station at a standstill in traffic.
I tell my driver that I’ll jump out, grab my suitcase from the trunk and walk. Just as I do, traffic starts moving, the truck driver behind me is honking his horn and I’m juggling my coffee, backpack and suitcase. I slam the car door and start walking fast down the street towards Paddington Station.
All of a sudden I think, “Shoot! Where’s my phone? Did I drop it on the street? Did that truck run it over? Is it in the Uber?”
My heart starts to race. “Which way did the Uber go? Where is he?” I started to pray that my phone is in the car and that he’s still nearby stuck in traffic. I’m frantic. I keep my drivers licence, credit cards and ATM card in a case on my phone. They’re all gone now, too. I run in four different directions from the intersection, dragging my suitcase, searching for him.
Now I can’t order my Uber when I land. I can’t contact anyone. I’ll have to cancel all my cards and get a new drivers licence. What about the email I was in the middle of to my boss? I could contact Uber, but by the time they get my driver and he comes back, I’ll need to leave. And how would I find him anyhow with the chaos of Paddington?
I’m paralyzed. I hope for good luck but I resign myself to the fact that I’ll have 16 minutes on the Heathrow Express wifi to fire up my iPad, cancel my cards, text my wife and email my boss. I have to go or I’ll miss my flight.
And then it happened. There he is. Standing directly across the street from me. He holds up my phone like a gold medal. I race over to him and give him the biggest bear hug imaginable. The people around us are gawking. I give him the £5 I have, but I wish I had £500 to give him. I can’t believe my luck – and thank Monsour, my driver, for answering my prayers!
Why am I writing this? Who cares about my little mishap story, right? Well, this is why I think Uber has changed the world. Uber has mastered the intersection of technology, customer care, convenience, price and self-service. They have changed our expectations forever, and they have done it by bringing drivers and riders together like a farmers market. Two strangers, from across the world with wildly different lives, who both work toward a mutual objective. He wants satisfied customers, and I want a caring driver to get recognition and a reward for his efforts.
Contrast this with the experience my boss had when she left her suitcase in a NYC taxi a few months ago. Without using an app to book the taxi, she didn’t have the name of the driver or a record of the ride. And the driver had none for her. Weeks later – after many phone calls and Sherlock-style searching by our EAs – she learned that her suitcase was in the NYC taxi lost and found, conveniently located in a rundown section of Queens. No phone call from the driver or the lost and found team – despite a luggage tag. Thankfully, she got it back (complete with an Uber to take her to the Queens outpost), but the experience sorely lacked the great experience of technology and customer care that I had with Uber.
It’s easy to say that technology and customer care are mutually exclusive. “What about the human touch” is a common refrain when discussing new technology platforms. At MOVE Guides, we hear this all the time when explaining how our Talent Mobility Cloud platform makes it easy for an employee to plan their move and for a great customer care team to support them throughout the experience. I know because I’m responsible for our MOVE Advocate team that provides this personalized support for employees moving. It’s only possible with the technology platform underpinning it.
Technology platforms unleash the best of convenience and care. This disruption is real and it fundamentally transforms the experience that we can have as consumers. How much would I pay for the level of service I received from my Uber driver? It’s priceless. I already love Uber, but now they have captured me as a loyal customer advocate forever. (I already sent a thank you note to Monsour, my driver, and the Uber Customer Care team thanked me for the feedback exactly 21 minutes later). I hope they recognize Monsour, as well.
It’s this integration of technology and people, like Uber, that is really special – and it’s what I love about building technology companies and launching new products. We are lucky to live in an era where all of this is possible – and I’m lucky to be the president of a company doing just this for relocation.