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Taxi for Uber

Transport for London (TfL) last week announced it will not renew Uber’s private hire operator licence after its current licence expires on 30 September. TfL said that Uber is “not fit and proper” and has demonstrated a “lack of corporate responsibility.”

The decision not to renew Uber’s licence could end up causing a major upheaval to the lives of the 40,000 licensed Uber drivers and the millions of Londoners who fervently rely on them.

While Uber is often under attack in the media, the service is hugely popular among its 3.5 million London users for a multitude of reasons, from price to feeling safe at night. 

Uber’s new chief executive, Dara Khosrowshahi, wrote to staff confirming that the company would appeal against the ruling, saying he disagreed with the decision as it was based on past behaviour. Uber will be able to continue operating in the city until the appeals process is exhausted. According to the Guardian, that process could take months.

Dara took over as CE of the company last month, and will undoubtedly face a number of challenges in his new role, but it’s said that he seeks to improve both the bottom line and the company’s tarnished image.

“The truth is that there is a high cost to a bad reputation,” he wrote. “It really matters what people think of us, especially in a global business like ours.”

Uber is now left to play politics and rely perhaps on consumers’ outcry. But the question is, does Uber have enough social capital left to convince the powers that be that it’s changed its ways?

So, have we seen the last of Uber in London?

Perhaps not. The tech giant has many resources to hand and an army of supporters in the capital who rely on the ride-sharing service. A petition, started by Uber itself, has already attracted over 811,000 signatures – and became Change.org’s fastest growing petition of 2017.

Uber may have a bad reputation at head office in the US, and it may come out on the wrong side of black cabs struggling in the capital, but the service has focused on excellent customer service at a one-to-one level and is now wielding this significant reputation to fight its case.

In other news this week…

Another company hitting the headlines this week is Ryanair. Its reputation has taken (yet another) beating following further flight cancellations in the lead up to Christmas. However, whereas Uber has always looked to keep customers on board and on their side, Michael O’Leary, CEO of Ryanair, has made a habit of making decisions – and statements – regardless of public opinion.

The fate of Ryanair is unclear, but professing for the past few years to be ‘Always Getting Better’, it will take a significant change to gain the public’s trust and rebuild its reputation.

Similar to Uber’s case, the regulator had to step in and take action, setting Ryanair a deadline to ‘obey compensation rules’. The UK’s Civil Aviation Authority says the airline must correct its compensation policy for passengers by Friday 29th September and stop misleading passengers about the option to be re-routed with another airline.

What can we learn from these greedy brands?

Both companies were called out on their poor management practices. The lesson for both has been that ‘low cost’ can only take you so far. There is much more to a brand than its price tag.

Reputation isn’t always top down; it’s from the bottom up. If you take care of the day-to-day customers, sure, they’ll take care of you. But it’s important that service and substance are (excuse the pun) put back in the driving seat.

In the words of Dara himself: “The truth is that there is a high cost to a bad reputation.”

If we can help manage your reputation, why not give us a call on 0121 454 9707 or send us an email at gary.hebblethwaite@hroc.co.uk.