Popular ride sharing service Uber is struggling amid controversy. The New York Times reports: “In January, the hashtag #DeleteUber spread after Uber was accused of undermining a strike by New York City taxi drivers during a protest over President Trump’s proposed travel ban, leading more than 200,000 users to delete their accounts.” Soon after, the company was also hit by allegations of a sexist workplace culture, which reached a peak when a board member made a sexist comment at a meeting to discuss the problem of sexism. Meanwhile, the company is defending itself in a Google lawsuit alleging theft of proprietary information about driverless cars. In June, CEO Travis Kalanick resigned amid pressure from investors.
What can you learn from Uber’s mistakes? Here are five lessons.
- Treat your employees (and independent contractors) well. No matter whether your workers are permanent employees or temporary contractors, treat them fairly. You'll not only find it easier to attract and retain new employees and contractors, you'll also impress consumers — who care more than ever about how companies treat their workers.
- Play fair. Accusations that your work environment is discriminatory or hostile to certain people based on their gender, ethnicity or age will do your business no favors. Rumors spread quickly, and whether true or not, they can be equally damaging to your business’s image. Make an active effort to hire a diverse workforce — it will benefit your business by bringing in a variety of perspectives and life experiences.
- Never forget that you are the face of your business. As the founder and CEO, you represent your business to the public no matter where you are or what you're doing. The way you act when you're in a restaurant, at the gym or on social media can negatively impact your business. Maintaining a positive reputation both online and “IRL” is essential to keeping your brand intact.
- Take rumors seriously. If someone at your business is accused of bad behavior or an employee makes a complaint, don't blow it off or assume it's just gossip. As the leader, you set the example for your business, so you need to quickly investigate the issue and set the record straight. Left unchecked, rumors can quickly get out of hand and do permanent damage to your business.
- Don't give your customers a reason to switch to your competitor. While Uber’s main competitor, Lyft, is still number two in the ride-sharing market, the Times reports that the number of people using Lyft in the first quarter of 2017 more than doubled compared to the same period a year earlier. Don’t make it that easy for your competition.
What's the overall take away from Uber's troubles? Reputation matters. Today's consumers seek honesty, transparency and authenticity in the companies they do business with. Not sure what people are saying about your business? Stay in the know by using ReputationAlert, Web.com’s online reputation monitoring and management service. ReputationAlert helps you get the jump on image problems before they get the best of you.