By Tammy Sachs, CEO
She can easily afford Uber or Lyft, but chooses Via. Not only that, she (and many of my friends) love it enough to be brand ambassadors --converting the rest of us. As predicted, after three rides, I’m now a loyalist spreading the word!
I brought the Via phenomenon up with a friend, Marshall Sitten, who has researched and taught service design way before the practice was in vogue. He told me “Via has successfully removed many of the common friction points that people associate with on-demand car service.” The result: they’ve made it irresistible.
Looking more closely at their service model, it is awesome from start to finish and, unlike NYC’s cabs, Via is completely predictable. Here’s the formula:
- Low Flat Price:
- Rides are $5 if riders pre-pay or $7 if you pay-per-ride weekdays from 6am-8pm. Rides are $5.95 if pre-paid or $7.95 if paid-per-ride on weekdays from 8pm-midnight, and on Saturdays and Sundays. Via takes you anywhere in Manhattan for the same price if you go 10 blocks or 100. There is no sticker shock and therefore, it appeals to a broad demographic.
- You Know What to Expect:
- Each Via car is spacious and spotless. The driver sends the license plate to a rider, so when 6 black cars are lined up in the dark, it’s impossible to accidentally wander into the wrong one. While the majority of their vehicles in NY are large SUVs like Suburbans and Escalades, they do have a variety of vehicle types in their fleet.
- Via always specifies the make and model when booking a car to help make finding your ride super easy.
- You know how long the wait will be before you book. Barring a massive parade, they’re on time with a two-minute warning.
- You know upfront that your ride can be solo or with up to four other people.
- The Interface is Clean, Intuitive Screen and Wayfinding. You can type an address or use the slider rather than type in “the corner of 110th & Amsterdam.” Best of all, for us spatially challenged, the app tells riders not only the corner they’ll be picked up on, they include the name of the store or landmark where they’ll be. This makes it hard to mess up finding that Suburban!
- Own Their Mistakes: On the occasion Via screws up, you get a credit that is instantly applied to your account.
- Fun Ride: Other passengers are usually friendly vs. stressed out and late for a meeting
It is difficult to justify not choosing Via unless you are going to Brooklyn, it’s super late, the wait time for a ride is 17 minutes or are traveling with three others (pricing is per person).
What I like most about Via is the element of surprise and delight. You never know who will join the ride next and the drivers are usually nice as they’re busy versus scrounging for a fare. If there are four other passengers riding with you, a lively conversation often ensues.
This is service design at its best. The end-to-end experience is wonderful and sells itself.