A case for Uber in Mexico: Are you sure to get there?

In recent years, Uber has become the most recognized alternative to traditional taxi cabs, despite the news and apparent scandals the company has been involved in the past. In Mexico City for example, Uber drivers lease particular vehicles as regular taxis and others use and drive their personal vehicles to offer discounted fare rides. Whether you’re traveling to Aguascalientes, Cancún, Chihuahua or Monterrey, you can expect Uber rides to be available in those cities and other major metro centers in Mexico.
Uber has been a digital disruption of an industry that struggles to ensure high standards at low cost in Mexico. Its business model is simple, but perhaps misunderstood in cultures like Mexico. The idea is to find drivers with access to a car who want to earn money. Perhaps the idea should be finding drivers with access to a car who want to work. Uber offers a highly scaled and distributed transport platform, which allow people who want to make journeys book these drivers via a mobile application. The review system created was to ensure great service, but perhaps the service quality metrics, along with the steps to become a Uber driver, should be reviewed in detail to bring not only a great service, but the best service. Neglecting quality in the service can lead to more confrontations and performance issues that, studies show, affect up to 63 percent of the companies nowadays.
 The aim of this study was to to investigate the Uber service quality in the south area of Mexico City considering various routes and times conditions.
Twenty nine male subjects (mean +/- SD:  40 +/- 4.5 yr) from the US and Mexico, with different backgrounds and random destinations participated in this study for three weeks. Each subject requested a trip selecting UberX and UberXL services within the zone and with a schedule between 9 am to 4 pm. In addition, some of the subjects were using crutches and canes. The metrics considered in the study were empathy, car and driver’s appearance, availability, time of response; and security, as knowledge of the driver role, the city and surroundings. The results of each dimension were normalized during the process for evaluation purposes.
As a result of this study, the service quality in the Uber rides were greater than traditional taxi rides. However, we found several discrepancies in the way fares were rated, along with reluctance from drivers to update routes on the application, despite suggestions made by riders. We also found little empathy towards riders with crutches and canes who asked for the service. From all the rides requested, just one driver followed Uber requirements to the letter, without riders asking something basic from the service; for example, turning the air conditioning on. Only four drivers kept the appearance required by Uber on their vehicles and on themselves. In contrast, fifteen drivers tried to take advantage of riders’s situation, while not closing the application on time after finishing the trip. As a result, those trips were overcharged and riders needed to contact Uber to make adjustments accordingly. In some cases, refunds were made and in others, changes in fares were credited to riders’ accounts. All drivers considered Uber fares too low.
The results found suggestions that the application needed to add new variables, such as real time traffic. This is important in order to allocate the best route and rate accordingly. The application needs to update the route dynamically, but also automatically. Otherwise, drivers will continue to ignore riders’s suggestions and also the updates on the routes by the application, while rating whatever they may feel is appropriate. We found that flat fees are applied in the first half of the day; and fares with a base rate and the correspondent component of time and distance are used in the second half; mainly for traffic reasons. We also found drivers were purposely driving slow in the first half of the day, perhaps because the application is speed sensitive; and hence the opportunity to change the way the fare is rated and get more for the ride.
The results also propose to consider a revision on the processes and procedures to become a Uber driver. Besides the criminal background check and the psychological tests, perhaps drivers should take a personality test indicating their temperament to potentially understand driver’s skills and attitude towards Uber’s business model. In addition to this, maybe Uber should also consider to include training or certifications in service quality or customer service for their drivers, before granting licenses to operate. It’s not a good idea to lower quality standards already set, just because there were some changes in the business objectives.
It seems some drivers do not understand Uber’s concept yet, but most of the drivers do want to do things the old fashion way: work when they feel like it, offer a bad service and control the supply and therefore the pricing. In other words, keep the abuse towards the customers. We foresee a lot of resistance to change in Mexico’s culture with Uber’s business model. Uber will have to solve this issue if the company wants to keep and grow its market share sustainably. Companies can accomplish their business goals without sacrificing service quality. We like Uber’s idea. The company has good customer service. They just need to tune the engine to make it more efficient and exceed customer expectations.
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