AutoPoint Blog

You can keep the taxi—Uber is a noun now.

Posted by Hilary Biggart Tuesday, May 31, 2016

This is an installment in a weekly series on uncommon tech innovations and implementations across all industries. Get an inside look at how other companies have changed their brands, their sales, and their retention through digital and mobile tech.

It was 2007. Two start-up gurus, Travis Kalanick and Garrett Camp, already had several successful companies under their respective belts. Red Swoosh. StumbleUpon. The former sold off for millions of dollars, the latter for an undisclosed amount. It’s safe to say these two businessman were already successful—and still in their 20’s—but they weren’t finished yet.

Kalanick and Camp lived in San Francisco, where finding a taxi was often harder than just walking home up the steep hills of the city. They set out to build a solution to the town’s transportation troubles—and they weren’t going to settle for the expected.

A new player in the transportation game.

Henry Ford famously said that before he built the Model T, if he’d asked people what they wanted, they’d have said a faster horse. If Kalanick and Camp had asked San Franciscans what they wanted, they might have said “more taxis” or “an easier way to find a cab.” But these men weren’t interested in what the people thought they wanted—they were going to create something entirely new.

And so Uber was born. With just a small network of drivers and a mobile application, Kalanick and Camp launched a transportation revolution, the echoes of which still ring in our ears. We haven’t even seen all the ramifications of the ride-sharing economy Uber started. This ride isn’t over yet. But we can already gather a few valuable insights from the company’s beginnings.

Use the tech in front of you.

Uber’s creators didn’t reinvent the wheel—at least not completely. They took pieces of technology that already existed and combined them in highly effective ways.

Uber uses GPS and mapping capabilities to locate riders and drivers and pair the two together. The app uses mobile payments to transfer money from riders to Uber to drivers—no cash or cards necessary. Finally, Uber uses a rating system to build trust in a situation that might otherwise provoke fear or anxiety. If your driver has 40 five-star reviews from other people, you feel more confident climbing into his car.

When you’re looking to improve your business, whether through greater efficiency, increased retention, or higher sales, the tech you need already exists. You just have to find the right combination of pieces and put them to work in the right ways.

Differentiation matters.

We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: early adoption is a big deal. Uber didn’t have long in the market before other ride-sharing companies came to steal the spotlight. Now there’s a huge variety of ride-sharing services that appeal to different audiences and fight Uber for your ride every time you unlock your smartphone to call a car.

When you think ride-sharing, you think Uber. The name has become synonymous with its service, and that’s not only because Uber was the first, but also because they didn’t stop innovating. The company is still exploring new fields (such as autonomous vehicles). They aren’t going to let the new standard become the status quo.

As more and more dealerships implement assistive technology—especially as part of the customer experience—where your customers see these tools first matters most. Right now, your customers are practically guaranteed to be engaged and connected through an effective dealer-branded app or an app that delivers inspection results. But when those types of technology are everywhere, in every dealership? It will be harder to make your mark.

When your customers think “seamless, effortless, tech-driven customer experience” you want your name to be the only one on their minds. And that means transforming your customer experience before the competition does it for you. 


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