23 Feb 2021

Humanising technology should be a top priority in the post-pandemic landscape


In a world where we get our news in 140 characters or less, spend time with our friends and family exclusively over video conferencing and announce our personal milestones on social media, it's no wonder that human relationships and connection should be at the heart of any technology business. Whether you're an online retailer, an independent artist or, like us at UVA UK, a soon to be launched ride-hailing app, emotional connection needs to be at the heart of your digital strategy and technology.

While technology has always been tightly woven into the fabric of our society, the distinction between digital and reality has become increasingly blurred over the last 12 months due to the pandemic. Before 2020, convenience reigned supreme with technology giants such as Amazon leading the way with all manner of items readily available at the swipe of a screen, ready to be delivered at a moment's notice.

However, as the landscape continues to change, it's simply not enough for technology brands to just deliver on their core services anymore, they should be actively trying to make each interaction with their customers as personable, tailored and transparent as possible.

Data from leading management consulting firm, Oliver Wyman, proves how vital this is for tech brands. In a recent study, it showed that some of the technology industry's heavy hitters including Facebook, Etsy, Uber and AirBnB have loyalty rankings of 30% or lower compared to established and trusted brands such as Disney (40%) and American Express (50%). This is largely down to these technologies services lacking softer attributes such as caring for and listening to customers.

While it's true that brands such as Amazon and AirBnB have created immense customer value and convenience, there is a risk that without bolstering it with a service that makes customers feel understood, appreciated and valued, brand loyalty could likely take a hit, especially as consumer mindset shifts to dealing with more sustainable and ethical brands.

On the other hand, this creates the perfect environment for a challenger brand to enter the market and shake things up! Ultimately, it doesn't matter how cutting edge the technology is, it has to enhance people's lives and make people feel valued to be a success.

Looking at our industry, we feel that ride-hailing apps have been taking advantage of drivers with outdated business models for far too long, which has led to a ‘lottery experience' for passengers. UVA was founded on the urgent need to go beyond a name and a rating system to create real trust within our communities.

One way we're committing to that promise is through our driver training programme, which is digitised through the app and measurable every step of the way. Once drivers pass our initial deep-dive tests, they're encouraged to take regular modules on all manner of subjects including Black Lives Matters, LGBTQ+ issues and White Privilege.

We're also serious about safety and to offer further peace of mind, our customers will be able to call our Customer Excellence Centre directly through the app, 24 hours a day, should they have any concerns. We've also introduced Yoti, a digital system that verifies drivers while protecting personal information, for additional security.

We're creating convenience for our passengers, without compromising on stellar customer service, which is a vital part of creating a technologically brand that will drive preference and loyalty. There's still a long way to go in the tech industry to shift mindsets on the equal importance of functionality and emotional connection, but we believe that brands who do it right will be the ones that reap the biggest rewards.

UVA UK is headquartered in Solihull and is set to launch its new app-based ride-hailing service in Birmingham, Wandsworth, Exeter and Islington early this year. For more information visit click here.

Ayesha Rees
Chief Executive Officer