Uber Trouble – A Communication conundrum

Uber

There are people who swear by Uber. Get on to Twitter & Facebook if you don’t believe me. Within a matter of few years, Uber has reached out to many countries and has been very successful with their operations that has led to a lot of positive WOM. Impressive thus far!

But Uber seems to be hitting some hurdles in India. Nothing that cannot be fixed. It is what Sherlock would’ve termed ‘Rudimentary’. And this rudimentary issue has led to confused signals from the media to naive customers!

To begin with, read this article which appeared on on 8-Aug-2014 in Economic Times. And then read this article in the same newspaper (front page) on 9-Aug-2014.

When your business crosses borders, chances are that the different regulations from your home country could make you ‘illegal’ in the other! It is a very basic issue. Accepting USD and then paying the drivers in INR is definitely a ‘quasi-legal quasi-finance’ issue. This could have been handled by clever structuring which makes the entire operation and routing of the funds follow the law of the land.

Maybe they do it. But…

Letting something like this slip out in premium financial newspaper doesn’t augur well for the brand in India. It can even lead to consumers getting confused on whether their transaction is legal and would they end up facing the not so friendly folks from revenue department!

What now?

India is a market which has shown a lot of promise. With so many start-ups springing out of every street corner and non-existent garage spaces, the leading financial (and main stream) dailies are having dedicated spaces and sometimes pages for start-ups.

Media is a double edged sword.

Some rudimentary suggestions!

  • Have a dedicated media focus.
  • It is okay to be sparsely written with a positive tonality than be written about everyday sending out mixed signals
  • Fix the regulatory issue and go back to the media. It is important to speak with the people. And definitely not wise to get the unnecessary attention of a regulator!
  • Keep the media close. It is important to understand what they publish. As a brand, a lot of ‘crisis’ could be averted by being honestly smart!

Note: This article first appeared as a LinkedIn Post here.






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