Why Uber Doesn’t Have a Loyalty Program

During my presentation in Wichita last Thursday night to the Kansas Society of Clinical Oncology, I showed excerpts from a video of Al Errato, the husband of one of our Mayo Clinic patients, which I had discussed in the post just before this one. (It’s also linked from Slide 27 below.)

One reason for showing the video was to emphasize how the advance of technology makes it much more cost-effective to capture moments and testimonials like these.

But during my conclusion (see Slide 66), I also tied Mr. Errato’s example back to one of the Five Tweetable Truths (which is something of a healthcare-specific distillation of my 35 Theses) I shared as a summary:

Creating a great patient experience is the best way to have positive social media buzz

In other words, the success of a social media “program” depends on the underlying reality of the patient or customer experience. If you’re providing good service, the offline word-of-mouth will be good, and you’ll likely be able to amplify it online. If you have quality and service issues, no “program” to encourage online buzz will be successful.

Back in my hotel room that night, I went online to Hotels.com to get a couple of rooms for Friday night, as my parents, Lisa and I were headed to Milwaukee for my grandson Graham’s second birthday. The site informed me that this rental would put me two nights closer to the 10 I needed for a free night’s stay.

As I headed to the hotel lobby the next morning, opening my iPhone app to get a ride to the airport via Uber, a question struck me:

Why doesn’t Uber have a loyalty program?

I had started using Uber late last spring based on a friend’s recommendation – or rather his use of the service for a ride on which I was a passenger. So then the next day I downloaded the app and used Uber myself for my ride back to the airport. I do recall getting some prompts to share my experience with friends, with some discount or credit involved for making the referral.

Since then I’ve used Uber at least a dozen times. I appreciate that:

  • The prices are lower
  • I don’t have to decide whether to give a 15 or 20 percent tip – it’s built in to the price
  • I don’t have to wonder whether the driver will take my credit card or demand cash after the ride’s conclusion
  • I can have the ride billed automatically to a stored credit card
  • I get the receipt via email almost immediately after the ride, and don’t have to worry about misplacing a paper receipt
  • I always get a clean ride with a courteous driver who has averaged at least 4.5 stars on a 5-point scale from those who’ve ridden previously, and
  • I don’t have risk bodily injury stepping into a busy street to hail a cab

On a recent trip I also experienced being able to split the fare with another passenger. No need for one of us to give the other cash and then mess with reimbursement headaches due to nonstandard documentation. We each got our half-price receipt via email.

I’ve become a regular customer, and yet I’ve never gotten an email that says, “Hey Lee, you’ve used Uber 7 times! With just 3 more you’ll qualify for a free ride!”

Why not? Because that would be a waste of money. I’m already committed. Why would Uber give me for free what I already think is a great value?

Uber doesn’t need a loyalty program because its service IS it’s loyalty program.

I’m glad Delta airlines has its Medallion loyalty program so I can get a few extra inches of legroom in Comfort+ seats at no extra cost, and that I can use accumulated miles for free trips.

And the Hotels.com free bonus night after buying 10 does give incentive to use that site regularly instead of splitting among Orbitz, Priceline, Kayak and the like. I’m not endorsing Hotels.com; I’m just saying that in a crowded marketplace with lots of similar options, a loyalty program can be a differentiator.

But now much better to provide service which is so clearly superior that a loyalty program would be wasteful?

Well done, Uber.


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Two Mayo Clinic Testimonials

Earlier this week, I saw this video from Glenn Beck about his experience at Mayo Clinic:

Partway through, Mr. Beck talks about his conversation with a Mayo Clinic nurse, and how he was surprised to learn that what he was perceiving as being treated “like a king” was actually fairly representative of the experience of average patients. So here’s a video I shot with my Flip camera in our early days of the Mayo Clinic YouTube channel, with the husband of a patient who had traveled from Connecticut:

I enjoy so much hearing these stories from people having their first experience at Mayo Clinic. They’re a great reminder of why we go to work each day.


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Leading Change from the “Other” C-Suite (That’s Communications)

That’s the title of the presentation I’ll be giving in Washington, DC today along with CareHubs CEO Paul Speyser, for the annual conference of the Society for Healthcare Strategy and Market Development, a.k.a. #SHSMD15. Yesterday we had our Social Media Residency at UC-Davis in Sacramento, and so as I write this, I’m at the airport in Detroit on the way to Washington, DC, having taken the Red-Eye from SFO to DTW last night.  If all goes well, I should be in DC by 9 or so.

I had an opportunity to preview some of what we’ll be discussing in our presentation in a podcast conversation with Stewart Gandolf, which he published last week. As I mentioned in the interview with Stewart, I think it’s been about a dozen years since I’ve spoken at this conference, back when my main job was media relations for Mayo Clinic. It’s fun to consider all that’s changed since then, and yet how our work now with the Mayo Clinic Center for Social Media is consistent with what we were doing in 2003, but also with more than 150 years of Mayo Clinic history.

Here’s the slide deck Paul and I will be using:

We’ll be talking about how we’ve collaborated to create social networking capacity through an owned platform for our Center for Social Media, and how we’re now applying those capabilities for patient education, patient communities, blogs and news delivery.

While many of the slides contain hyperlinks to some of our WordPress-based sites and communities, here are a few initiatives I’d like to particularly emphasize:

Here are a couple of our sites that will have significantly redesigned looks in the next few weeks:

If you haven’t yet signed up, please take advantage of our free Basic Membership in the Mayo Clinic Social Media Health Network.

Finally, here are links to some of the books we mentioned, which have influenced our thinking:

I look forward to a good discussion.

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Periscope goes Horizontal

With an update released yesterday, the good folks at Periscope have eliminated one of the downsides of their video-streaming app as compared with rival Meerkat:

Now we can stream video horizontally instead of vertically, and still have viewers fully able to interact with comments.

Yesterday when I was doing a Periscope from the Mayo Clinic Healthy Living Program, one of the first comments from viewers was that I should switch to horizontal mode. I couldn’t do that in the middle of the broadcast, but after I was done I sat down to give it a try, on my personal Periscope account, and had a nice conversation with viewers.

One of the things I learned is that it worked well for participants who had the updated app, but for those still using the old version it felt buggy.

Takeaway #1: Everybody – please update to the latest version of Periscope for iOS or Android.

Why does horizontal video matter?

As I described in this post on our Mayo Clinic Center for Social Media site, one of the downsides of Periscope is that the archives expire after 24 hours. We want to use Periscope to provide behind-the-scenes glimpses of Mayo Clinic, including tours, and would like to upload the video to our Mayo Clinic YouTube channel.

Unfortunately, vertical video isn’t attractive on YouTube, which uses a widescreen format.

So we developed a hack that involved

  • Creating a Keynote presentation with photos from the tour,
  • Placing the vertical video clips within the slides, and then
  • Exporting the Keynote presentation to QuickTime for upload to YouTube.

It wasn’t ideal, but it at least avoided the letterbox look. And the other downside was that it took another couple of hours to create the video, after the tour was done. Still, it felt worthwhile to get enduring access to the tours.

The new Periscope feature doesn’t completely solve the problem, but it reduces the time for video post-production by about 90 percent.

Why is it incomplete? Because the video saved to the camera roll (at least in iOS) is still in a vertical format, although now it’s sideways like this:

Horizontal vertical

Fortunately, there’s a three-step solution that takes only a few minutes.

  1. Open iMovie for iPhone and import the Periscope clip from your camera roll.
  2. As this helpful article indicates, once you’ve selected the clip in the timeline, just put your thumb and forefinger together and twist 90 degrees, and the clip will rotate.
  3. Finally, export the clip as a new movie file.

Now you’ll have a horizontal video that you can upload to YouTube, or edit further. I’ll likely transfer the files to my laptop, because I’ll be able to edit more precisely and quickly in that version of iMovie.

There will be some bumps in the transition, such as for services like katch.me, which have been archiving ‘scopes. They’ll need to adjust to keep them from looking like this:

Screen Shot 2015-09-11 at 7.49.25 AM

But overall, this is an exciting (and for us, time-saving) advance from Periscope!

Update: Here’s an edited version of my first horizontal Periscope, uploaded to YouTube:

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Getting SMUG in Schuyler

I’m in Schuyler, Nebraska today for the Benedictine Development Symposium, which meets every two years for several days of learning about relevant topics.

Engaged PeopleI spoke to this group in 2013 for a couple of hours, and today they wanted me to come back for some more hands-on training and in-depth discussion. We had a great morning together, and so I’m using this post to both demonstrate blogging and as a way to recap and provide links to some of the resources.

We created a closed Facebook group they will be able to use to share resources and plan for 2017. The major benefit of a group is that you can share files (like Word documents and PDFs) that you can’t share on a page.

I also did a quick demo of Periscope (this archive will only be available for the next 22 hours or so) and showed what we’re doing with Periscope at Mayo Clinic.

Here’s one of the great tweets from the group:

I also gave an assignment to shoot videos. Here’s one of them:

I would welcome any comments or feedback from the group. Please chime in with your thoughts in the comments below!



Posted in Conferences | Tagged , | Leave a comment
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