Customer loyalty and advocacy have experienced a shift in gear as of late for Uber in the UK alone. This latest news of a huge hack in the US that exposed personal data of over 57 million customers and drivers is set to see many turn their backs on the ride-service provider and further damage their faltering reputation.
Not only did Uber hide the massive global breach of data in October 2016 and fail to inform those affected, but they’ve also confirmed they paid the hackers to hush them. Uber paid those responsible for the mega-hack around $100,000 to remove the data and keep the accessed data a secret.
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Hackers stole personal data including names, email addresses and phone numbers, as well as the names and driver’s license numbers of about 600,000 drivers in the United States. The company said more sensitive information, such as location data, birth dates, credit card and bank account numbers had not been compromised.
Uber chief executive Dara Khosrowshahi released a statement, “None of this should have happened, and I will not make excuses for it. While I can’t erase the past, I can commit on behalf of every Uber employee that we will learn from our mistakes.”
It’s interesting that each time there’s a falter in Ubers Customer Experience it is not due to a dissatisfaction with the product, which has remained virtually the same, but because of the way the company treats their employees, customers and partners. This widening gap in the customer expectation vs customer perception has instantly had a knock-on effect on satisfaction levels, loyalty and advocacy for the start-up giant.
This throws up questions about the company’s Customer Experience strategy and the failure to understand the importance of internal structures and processes. This is apparent as a result of many news stories around employee mistreatment, customer dissatisfaction and regulation breaches to name a few. In fact, at the start of the year, the company faced the trend-setting #DeleteUber viral boycott campaign. These news stories about the company are a direct cause of its leaders, the company’s culture, business model, and executive decisions. This has meant Uber has produced diminished perceptions both internally and externally.
From the many factors where the strategy has failed, it is clear that transparency is missing. Even today Uber has said in a statement to drivers that it would offer those affected free credit monitoring and identity theft protection, but it’s been widely reported that those drivers have not been informed of this yet. In a time where distrust is already apparent amongst employees, communication and transparency are key.
Its subsequent reputational issues demonstrate how old-fashioned leadership and culture are so vital to a brand’s customer experience. Building a customer-experience culture is about ensuring the employees who interact with customers, directly and indirectly, make the right choices in those interactions to meet—and, ideally, exceed— customer expectations. But, this must start with its leaders and this is where Uber has suffered greatly.
It is what gear Uber decides to move to next to raise or injure customer satisfaction, loyalty and advocacy that will define the company’s questionable future.