When you’re at the forefront of technology, change seems to be the only constant.
Singapore’s transport sector used to be a dull picture, but as we’ve seen in recent years, ride-hailing apps have made sure that there’s always something new round the corner.
And while we are used to hearing about promotion codes aimed at attracting riders, this time, Uber Singapore is focusing on retaining its drivers instead.
The company’s head of operations for Singapore, Jonathan Wong, announced the launch of a new “90 Days of Change” campaign aimed at addressing the needs of its driver-partners at a media briefing today (Nov 9).
The campaign is a localised iteration of Uber’s “180 Days of Change” launched in US and Canada earlier this year, and is based on feedback collected through various types of focus groups with drivers.
You might recall that some of Uber’s proposed changes in North America had caused some worry among riders, in particular the decision to start charging riders an extra fee if their drivers took more than eight minutes to get to their pick-up locations. But the change also brought good news as it was possible drivers would now feel more inclined to accept trips in suburban locations instead of remaining in the city.
While Uber Singapore did not announce any changes to driver earnings on Thursday, it did introduce a number of significant changes to the way its driver-partners could work.
“Some of the things which we wanted to make sure we covered was a sense of being heard and respected… and that’s what kind of catalysed this entire effort,” Mr Wong said.
Among the feedback received, Uber’s Singapore drivers indicated that they wanted a more seamless experience driving with the app, improved infrastructure and policy support, better earnings and perks, and a sense of community with other drivers.
As a result, new changes will be implemented in phases throughout the 90-day campaign, starting with improving flexibility, followed by upgrading the driver experience and by January, Uber would have also introduced measures aimed at improving drivers’ earnings.
Here is a quick look at Uber Singapore’s first round of changes, which are geared at giving its drivers more flexibility:
1) Drivers will now be able to set arrival times for their own destinations
- Uber Singapore
According to Uber of the most common frustrations for drivers is that their trips sometimes lead them far away from their own destinations. As a result, they end up taking a long time to get to where they need to go.
A new feature will now allow drivers to set a specific time they need to be somewhere else, up to two times a day. This way, the system does not allocate them jobs that require them to travel in the opposite direction of where they need to get to.
As most drivers work on a flexible schedule and may have other commitments such as other jobs, picking their children up from school or medical appointments, the new measure could possibly make their lives a lot easier by allowing them to keep an even more flexible schedule.
2) Fewer worries about needing to answer the call of nature
A second measure implemented today is the “long trip notification” which will tell the driver if a potential trip is likely going to take more than 30 minutes to complete.
This could be helpful in instances when the driver is pressed for time, such as when they need to use the bathroom, or if they have taken too many long trips and need a short break.
Given that Uber drivers are not allowed to choose their trips based on rider destinations, this measure seems to be a move in the right direction when it comes to keeping driver’s happier and less tired on the road.
3) Cancellation timer
Drivers will now see an in-app timer that will help them keep track of the time that has lapsed between the moment they accepted the trip and the actual start of the trip.
If a rider then cancels a ride more than five minutes after a driver accepts the ride, the driver will know for certain that he/she is eligible to be paid a cancellation fee.
4) It’s easier to qualify for incentives
Uber Singapore has also removed its 80% trip acceptance requirement for incentive qualification.
So while trip acceptance rates are still calculated and other requirements are still in place, it is no longer necessary for drivers to achieve a certain acceptance rating to be eligible for incentive earnings.
In the past, a driver aiming to earn the incentive payout might force him or herself to work extra and accumulate more trips so that he/she can hit 80% of acceptance ratings.
According to Uber, a trial of this new feature showed that this does not affected the rate of trip acceptance negatively.
Instead, full-time driver Ryan Brown, 39, said he felt liberated from the stress of constantly worrying if he had missed the target.
The increased flexibility, he says, also allows him to spend more time with his young daughter every day.