This month, Lyft announced that it is expanding its ‘Wait & Save’ pilot program on rides in Canada and the US. Since COVID-19 prompted the company to suspend its carpooling ride options — offering riders significantly lower rates than regular rides — it recognized that many riders still needed access to more affordable options, especially considering that 40% of its US trips occur in low-income areas. The Wait & Save program rewards passengers with discounts if they are willing to wait longer than usual for a driver to arrive; generally, the longer they need to wait, the less the ride will cost. Drivers’ compensation will not be reduced.
Back in 2015, Uber released data showing how its service has radically ramped up consumer expectations. The feature in its app that displays drivers’ estimated arrival times (which is also, of course, in Lyft’s app) conditioned consumers globally to be less patient when waiting for a cab; see how we covered this in our book, Trend-Driven Innovation.
Yet now we find ourselves in the midst of a pandemic. Consumers’ expectations are already heightened...but brands’ capacity to deliver on those expectations has sharply declined. This of course doesn’t only apply to ridesharing. Every industry, and especially those categorized as ‘on-demand’ — bringing products, meals, medications and more at ever-more-rapid speeds — is being impacted.
But don’t forget that your customers’ behaviors or expectations aren’t necessarily set in stone. Your brand does have the power to change them. Even those as difficult to appease as impatience! In fact, the police in Mumbai tackled impatience on a mass scale, seeking to adjust residents’ habit of incessantly honking during red lights. The police installed noise meters in the traffic lights; the more drivers honked, the longer the red lights would last. Granted, this approach harnesses punishment, rather than a reward system like Lyft’s. And things are tough right now for your customers, so we’d encourage displaying empathy and leaning towards rewards ;). But either way, if your business’ operations have been compromised, what can you do to manage your customers’ expectations?
The TrendWatching content team