February 14, 2013

Customer Service: The Uber Destination

Customer Service: The Uber Destination

Every once in a rare while a product or service is created that not only delivers what it promises but in fact wildly exceeds our expectations. One such service is the UBER app developed by Uber Technologies, Inc. of San Francisco. Let me tell you how I came to learn about UBER and what it does.

Late last fall my family and I moved into New York City to live full time. Having lived on Long Island for most of my life, I expected there would be an adjustment period in acclimating to city life. One of the biggest adjustments was transitioning from a life of driving a car almost everywhere to one in which you almost never drive your own car but rely instead on mass transit, taxis, car service or just good old fashion walking. I actually love to walk, so my transportation of choice is my own steam whenever possible. I can probably get 95% of what I need in life (other than work) within a 5-block radius of my apartment. For that other 5% and for work-related activities, until recently a taxi was my default. For those of you who know me, I’m sure you’re not surprised that subway and bus wasn’t one of my preferred choices.

As every New Yorker knows, trying to hail a taxi between 3:00 and 5:00 PM on any given day in NYC is like waiting for snow in Miami. It’s a historic occasion if it ever happens. The height of rush hour is when all the taxi drivers in New York have a tacit pact to change shifts, or go on their dinner breaks. On a rainy or very cold day, the sea of yellow cars that normally flows on city streets (except at rush hour) just evaporates altogether. As they say in Brooklyn, fuggedaboudit.

On one of those cold, rainy days before the holidays I was meeting my friend and fellow CPA Richard Feldstein, who was visiting from LA, for a cocktail.  Afterwards, there was not a taxi to be found. At which point Richard took out his iPhone and tapped the UBER app. Within 5 minutes a town car appeared like a mirage in the desert and transported us both to our next destinations.

You can be sure that when I got home, the first thing I did was download the UBER app onto my own iPhone. It couldn’t have been easier. I located it in the iPhone app store, filled out a simple electronic registration, gave them my credit card information and I was set.

I’m now a regular user and a big fan. Anytime I need a car, I open my UBER app. It automatically knows where I am, gives me the choice of a sedan or SUV, tells me how long it will take for the vehicle to arrive, and even estimates the fare if I put in my destination. Once I enter my request, UBER tells me the driver’s name, the license plate number of the car and the driver’s rating. I also get a text message confirming the car is on its way and another one when the car is arriving. Rain, snow, sleet, dark of night, I’ve never waited more than 5 minutes for an UBER car to arrive. And the best news is that no money changes hands. It’s all done electronically and charged to my credit card. Within 5 minutes of arriving at my destination, I get an email with the exact charge, a small map of the route we took, the distance traveled, and the time the trip took.

I have never been disappointed.

Never disappointing customers is the key to the whole value proposition. This is obviously true not just for Uber, but for any business. Being able to deliver on customer expectations is the ultimate end game, but what has to come first is recognizing a market need and figuring out the best possible solution. Often, the solution must evolve along with the need, as the world and the way we live and work in it change. The most successful companies are those that evolve with it, like Apple (iPhone 5, anyone?).

In our business here at Marcum, meeting our clients’ needs for superior accounting, audit and advisory services is our mission, and fulfilling those needs in a way that is profitable, efficient, customized, and highly responsive to each individual circumstance is what has enabled us to grow and to thrive.

The people at Uber really understand this. They have nailed it with a service that delivers on their promise by delivering me to my destination with complete confidence and satisfaction every time.  It’s an uber model for us all.