Mytaxi Match

2017-2018, Lead Designer, Web & Mobile

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Back in 2017 urban mobility was transforming rapidly with various mobility services and platforms all around Europe increasing pressure on mytaxi. It was the right time to think about sustainable alternatives in urban transportation.

We introduced mytaxi match as a ride pooling experience to match riders heading in the same direction in order to share a ride and the split the costs. The service should make transportation affordable and accessible for a much wider range of people and help cities to reduce the number of automobiles needed by travelers. Furthermore It should decrease energy consumption, congestion and the infrastructural demand.

Video created by explain.ninja

The Challenges

There were various challenges along the way. Let me quickly highlight some of them.

Strategical & Operational
Germany is a highly regulated country with old economic values. Introducing a new service type which is clearly establishing an affordable alternative to one of the oldest industries in Germany was a constant struggle. We had to deal with many restrictions and a lot of law driven decisions.

Being a technology company with an app focused on the taxi market, mytaxi made the first move since its foundation to push additional services for new transportation options. We had to face major protests of taxi drivers questioning the new direction of mytaxi and the consequences it may have on their income.

Experiential
Hailing a taxi is a tailored service for individual users. Getting matched with a stranger, having to potentially face longer trips / waiting times, and having the uncertainty of final costs made this experience particularly challenging to design. Significant fare reductions seemed to be the only incentive to give to users for using this service.

Technological
It’s a data informed and data driven service. The most important KPI was to increase the matching rate. To do so we needed to create the demand and a tailored allocation process to guarantee the success of this service.

Discovery

I was fully involved in the process from strategic planning concept up to the living product.

I accompanied the mytaxi match launch on our first markets Germany and Poland. Rider and driver app were affected and needed to be conceptualised and designed. In addition, we worked on the general communication associated to this service (f.e. Press events, promo videos, facebook ad campaigns, brochures …).

To start with the discovery phase originally, I laid out the process and started with the following steps:

A. I worked closely with our research team to create user journeys for our defined target audience

B. We created a survey and send them out to our active customers fitting the parameters of our defined target groups

C. I sat down with our business intelligence team to identify the allocation of demand and supply as well as the characteristics of thousands of trips within the city of Hamburg and Warsaw

D. I started to scribble the first drafts alongside product management and operations

Research

A. We did a comprehensive competitor analysis including service performance and went out to test it by ourselves

B. We tested our first prototypes internally

C. We scheduled additional testing appointments in a studio environment and interviewed external participants

D. We organised field tests with briefed drivers, employees and external participants

E. We send out post-surveys to analyse the acceptance

We concluded the following aspects:
Being matched is perceived with major disadvantages. Risk of detour, inconvenience of sharing the taxi with strangers, time and price uncertainty. All research measures confirmed that the main driver to use mytaxi match is cost savings. We predicted this service to struggle without the right pricing policy and individuality.

The Solution

I designed a rider and driver flow which highlighted the social aspect of sharing, possibility of cost saving when getting matched and depiction of current match/trip status. Mytaxi match needed to be as certain as possible to create a trusted environment.

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The Impact

Due to low demand around the launch dates we decided to compensate riders who didn’t get matched with fixed 50% off of their taxi ride. This resulted in a hefty cancellation rate (after getting matched) and an even lower match rate. The service was performing below expectations with match rates much lower than expected. We were trapped in a vicious loop. Riders were using mytaxi match to not get matched and get compensated. Once matched they cancelled the ride immediately. The demand was too little to find equivalent matches for the requests and ‘buying time’ by extending the allocation time was resulting in even more cancellations.

We considered to take drastic steps in order to transfer the benefit of the higher match chance to the customer. We needed to encourage the user to be matched.

The following thoughts were taken in consideration of reaching that goal:

A. Get rid of the 50%-off compensation when not getting a match

B. Get rid of ad-hoc bookings and introduce fixed time slots (Get picked up in 5,10,15 mins). This would help to ‘buy’ more time in the allocation process and ensure the commitment of the passenger to wait for a match

C. Introduce fixed prices to lower/eliminate pricing uncertainty and cost transparency even when taking detours

Due to low demand around the launch dates we decided to compensate riders who didn’t get matched with fixed 50% off of their taxi ride. This resulted in a hefty cancellation rate (after getting matched) and an even lower match rate. The service was performing below expectations with match rates much lower than expected. We were trapped in a vicious loop. Riders were using mytaxi match to not get matched and get compensated. Once matched they cancelled the ride immediately. The demand was too little to find equivalent matches for the requests and ‘buying time’ by extending the allocation time was resulting in even more cancellations.

We considered to take drastic steps in order to transfer the benefit of the higher match chance to the customer. We needed to encourage the user to be matched.

The following thoughts were taken in consideration of reaching that goal:

A. Get rid of the 50%-off compensation when not getting a match

B. Get rid of ad-hoc bookings and introduce fixed time slots (Get picked up in 5,10,15 mins). This would help to ‘buy’ more time in the allocation process and ensure the commitment of the passenger to wait for a match

C. Introduce fixed prices to lower/eliminate pricing uncertainty and cost transparency even when taking detours

time slot

On a personal note I still think that services such as mytaxi match are the obvious and right choice with regards to making the future more sustainable. It simply wasn’t the right timing for launching it.

Even though the outcome has not been as successful as initially planned, I still enjoyed working on this project and accompanying it until my very last day at mytaxi. I am truly thankful for all the people who have been involved. It has been a very educational process which taught me a lot!

“Launching mytaxi match was a wild ride with many ups and downs. Alex was a reliable partner throughout the whole process leading design without any hesitation.”

Torben Bursinski
Head of New Mobility Business at FREE NOW (formerly mytaxi)