Lyft will soon start rolling out a handful of notable driver-focused updates as the U.S. ride-hailing battle heats up.
“Default” is one of the key words from the company’s announcements today. First up, Lyft is adding a preset tipping option, meaning riders can choose a percentage to automatically tip drivers once their ride is complete.
Once default tipping is activated, the tip will be applied even if you don’t actively rate a trip and add a tip.
Lyft revealed back in April that riders have tipped half a billion dollars to drivers over the years, and the company said it expects this figure to hit $1 billion early next year.
In addition to default tipping, Lyft said it plans to introduce in-ride tipping in the coming months so you can choose to tip before a ride is over, instead of having to remember to do so as you’re rushing from the car.
“We’ve seen that Lyft riders open the app during 53 percent of trips, and we’re making it easier for them to tip when they do,” the company said in a blog post.
Elsewhere, Lyft is now bringing the drivers’ app in line with the riders’ app. As things stand, passengers are automatically given a five-star rating unless the driver intervenes and grades them down. Moving forward, drivers will also be given a five-star rating unless the passenger interjects with a lower rating.
According to the company, this update came as a result of direct advice from its driver-led Driver Advisory Council (DAC), which launched in 2016. This move does make sense in many ways, given that unhappy riders are typically more inclined to leave a rating, thus potentially skewing a driver’s overall score. Riders who don’t give any rating are more likely to have been happy or indifferent and were likely just too busy or lazy to leave feedback.
Related to this, riders who give a rating of less than five stars will be asked to qualify their score — so if they say “traffic was heavy,” for example, the rating will not count against that driver.
Additionally, Lyft said it will discount the single lowest rating for every 100 rides a driver carries out. Again, the intention here is to ensure that one-off disputes or issues with a specific rider don’t bring down a driver’s overall rating.
One of the final features Lyft is announcing today is a neat new planning tool baked into the home screen of the drivers’ app that shows available bonuses and local events that may drive up demand. It will also display a graph illustrating which hours of the day are likely to be busiest — effectively letting drivers see at a glance when they should work.
In the future, Lyft said it plans to launch “at least one” new improvement feature each month as a direct result of driver feedback.
“Lyft’s Driver Advisory Council is completely unique for the industry, and it is one of our most effective ways of staying tuned into the driver community nationwide,” noted Rajiv Bhatia, Lyft’s head of driver product. “The six new features that we are announcing today and those that we commit to delivering each month are the result of feedback from drivers through channels like the DAC.”
Lyft recently announced that it had passed 1 billion total rides since its inception, after doubling its number of rides in the previous 11 months. But with both Lyft and Uber gearing up for an IPO in 2019, the battle to lock in loyalty from riders and drivers is very much on.
Last month, Lyft launched a $299 subscription for 30 rides a month, and this week it revealed plans for a new rewards program for riders. Not to be outdone, Uber earlier this month launched a subscription service to encourage rider loyalty, and yesterday the company unveiled a new rewards program for Uber and Uber Eats customers. A couple of weeks back, Uber also launched a new initiative for drivers, called Uber Pro, a rewards program that lets drivers unlock bigger fare percentages and extra benefits based on favorable ratings and trip cancellation rates.
This month’s swathe of announcements makes it clearer than ever that Lyft and Uber are going all-in to win over riders and drivers as their businesses prepare to hit the public markets next year.