In our industry, we talk a lot about digital transformation and what it means as traditional service providers move to become digital service providers. When I introduce our Nokia Digital Experience (DX) portfolio to customers and others in the industry, I like to use examples from my life to show how digital technologies can enhance any service.
Let’s look my experience with taxis during a recent trip to Prague and compare it with the experience I get with digital-enabled ride services like Uber. I’ll split this experience into three phases: requesting a car, riding in the car, and paying for the ride.
Requesting a car – real-time view vs. long-time wait
Two of us needed to go to the Prague airport from a customer site. We were cutting it close to make our flights. The information desk called a taxi and said the wait would be about ten minutes. After ten minutes of worrying about whether the car would come and walking up to many taxis that were not ours, we eventually went back inside to check with the information desk before our taxi finally arrived.
Compare this with the experience I get from Uber. I usually just enter my destination into Google Maps and get options for driving, public transportation, ride services like Uber, and walking. I have an Uber account, so I can request a ride right from Google Maps. In industry terms, this is a personalized, contextual offer. For me, it’s just easy: I can order a car with a few clicks.
Once I order the Uber, I get detailed information about the driver and car that are coming to pick me up. Most importantly, I get live updates about the car’s location and expected arrival time. I also receive an alert on my mobile phone when the car is a minute away. To me, this real-time view provides great value and peace of mind.
Riding in the car – easy updates vs. uncertainty
We told our taxi driver we were going to the airport. He was helpful, but he didn’t initially understand that we needed to stop at two different terminals. Since we were running late, we wanted to know if we could still make our flights. We spent the ride using Google Maps to repeatedly request directions from our current location to the airport.
With Uber, I don’t need to explain anything to the driver or wonder when I’ll get to my destination. I can see the same route as the driver and track our progress in real time on my mobile phone. I also get continuous updates about our arrival time.
Uber’s digital experience also makes it easy to change plans. On a recent trip to India, I took an Uber to meet with colleagues at a coffee shop before meeting with a customer. We were stuck in heavy traffic. Through text messages, our team decided to skip the coffee shop and go directly to the customer location. I didn’t speak the same language as my driver, but with Uber it didn’t matter: I simply updated my view of the trip with a new destination. After a few seconds, my driver received an alert on his phone. We confirmed the new destination with some pointing and nodding. I saw the route change on my phone and knew we had communicated successfully.
Paying for the ride – predetermined vs. guessing game
Have you ever tried to pay for a taxi with a credit card? If so, you’ll have encountered taxi companies that take only local currency, accept a small number of credit cards, or have unreliable connections to the network.
When I arrived in Prague, I took a taxi to my hotel. I paid with my personal MasterCard (because the driver couldn’t take corporate AMEX) and had to enter my email address so that the system could send me my receipt. While I appreciated the attempt at being more “digital,” I didn’t like giving my email address to a vendor that might sell it to mailing lists.
When I tried to pay for my taxi ride back to the airport, the machine couldn’t connect to the network. I gave the driver three different credit cards to try. He finally removed the batteries from the device to reset it, completed the transaction, and printed my receipt. This took an extra ten minutes. When I finally walked into the airport, the airline’s counter was closed. I got a temporary ticket to go through security and barely made my flight.
With Uber, the payment method is predetermined. I pay with my card of choice in the local currency everywhere. When I reach my destination, I grab my luggage and go. Within two minutes, I receive a message on my mobile phone that says my ride is complete, along with a link I can use to rate my experience. I also receive an email with a receipt and details about my ride including a map of my route. Had I used Uber for my ride to the airport, I would have made it to the ticket counter on time without any issues.
As a digital consumer, I find the Uber experience to be much better than that offered by taxi services. It is faster, easier, and usually cheaper. The digital experience provided by Uber adds further value by letting me see my status at any time. This dramatically reduces anxiety for someone like me, who admittedly should leave earlier but would rather maximize my time with the customer, than in the taxi to the airport.
At Nokia, we believe customers buy experiences, not products. And today’s digital customers expect highly personalized, seamless experiences wherever and whenever they want. How do your customers select your service, use your service, and pay for your service? How positive is their digital experience through the steps?
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